Tag Archives: Grace

Wager With the Wind

What Just Happened!?

Well, the time has come. I’ve dreaded this moment for some reason. It’s not hard to tell what happened, as best I understand it. That’s straightforward and easy. It’s because I don’t want to relive the feeling of what we lost.

My wife and I took a 3-mile walk this morning around our frozen neighborhood in the 19° (which felt like 10°), frozen-world, winter, wonderland covered with 2-3 inches of sleet from the previous 24 hours. The silence and solitude were beautiful, as were our brief conversations and prayers. I couldn’t help but look at the hard, sleet-covered surface of the road and think, “I could have landed the Maule on surfaces like that easily, as I have several times. Hard-packed ice and snow isn’t a problem. But soft, wet, dense snow is.

Here’s What Happened

Let me tell you what happened, and then we can discuss lessons learned or what I would do differently if I got a do-over, which in this case, I don’t.

January 26, 2023, in the early morning we flew from Springdale, AR, where we live much of the time and keep our airplane hangared to Hot Springs, AR, to visit my wife’s sister, who has some health challenges. It was a pristine, clear, blue-skies day, and we made the smooth flight in a record 45 minutes due to a substantial tailwind out of the NW. The snow-covered mountains of the Ozarks and Ouachitas were breathtaking, and flying seemed surreal, which it often does.

A Year Ago on the Mountain

After our visit, we filled up with fuel due to the expected weekend flying and headed north to our mountain-top strip, John Harris Field, or AR05, on the aeronautical charts. We flew lower northbound to mitigate the effects of the NW headwind. At 3500′, I slowed the plane and configured it to land to the north. The skies were clear blue, and the north/south runway looked beautiful in the snow. I noted it was 1210 PM. The winds at 2500′ on down to the 1777′ landing zone elevation were out of the NW (310° and steady at 10-15 knots, I estimated from the 3000′ winds aloft at RUE and what I was feeling from the airplane). I held my normal 60 MPH final approach speed steady until it was time to flare. Once we glided near the runway surface, past the windsock at the approach end, and between the pine trees which line the runway, there was practically no wind or drift to correct. Before entering the snow, I held it off in the flare to dissipate as much airspeed as possible.

When I let it settle into the snow, it seemed like our deceleration rate was typical for the landing phase. But it then decelerated faster than I could imagine. The tail came up very quickly, and before I knew it, it was straight up in the air, and then the momentum of the plane carried it on over in a somewhat slow tumble onto its back. 

I would say from the “fairly normal deceleration” assessment until the tail was up vertical only took 2-3 seconds — unbelievably fast, even when I think about it now as I type. I didn’t get the time compression that sometimes accompanies these sudden events. It still seems like a blur. I had my hand on the throttle to add power if needed. If they happen, I’d read that soft snow-related incidents happen at very slow speeds at the end of the landing roll when not much air is going over the tail to hold it down. But nothing I read, thought, or heard about prepared me for this rapid deceleration. It was as if at 15-20 MPH, some gremlins threw chocks in front of the main wheels.

The only thoughts I had, at the time the tail was about 30° up in the air and moving rapidly, were: “I can’t make myself push the power up looking down at the ground at this slow speed, with no real threats around” and, when the prop hit the ground one second later, “This is going to be expensive.”

The next thing I know, my wife and I are hanging upside down in our seat belts. We release them and crawl out of the airplane onto the bottom of the pilot’s side wing. While she released her belt, I turned the master switch off, the ignition switch off, and the fuel selector to off. Then we walked away quickly in shock that it had happened. But we were unharmed and grateful.

The End.

To Stop or Not to Stop, That is the Question

Hundreds experiences work for you when flying in the backcountry from thousands of hours flying fighters and airliners. Then there are a few things that might work against you.

One such thing is the throttle. For many repetitions and landings, when I pulled the throttle to idle, it wasn’t going to be pushed back up. In the backcountry with lighter aircraft, sometimes you need to do so to get air over the control surfaces to control the airplane and prevent mishaps. I have made substantial progress in overcoming this big-muscle memory and demonstrated it at times. But this event happened too fast to react like that.

Secondly, you spend most of your career thinking snow is slick and the primary threat it presents is getting stopped from the momentum of heavy airplanes landing at high speeds. One never suspects it could be an agent for causing you to stop too quickly.

I will continue to mull this over and try to think of what I might have done differently and hear from fellow pilots their thoughts. An F-16 buddy called yesterday and after hearing my story said, “Yeah, but this is different. The snow got hold of you and flipped you over.” That isn’t a bad summary of what happened.

An older pilot friend with lots of experience told me, “CG (center of gravity) might have had some effect on you. When you fly airplanes like the Maule or a Cherokee Six that carry about anything you put in them and feel about the same when landing, one can get a little lax in thinking about it.” That’s possible for sure. If I had remotely anticipated anything like this, I would have extra bags or weight in the back to slow or help prevent the tail from coming up. And I might have landed with a bit of power on until it stopped in its tracks — very counterintuitive though. If I had dreamed it could be a problem, I wouldn’t have landed at all. All of this is hindsight and speculation. But you can’t help but try to problem-solve or be a better pilot, even when you’re still grieving the loss of something.

I wish I had had Don Sheldon to ask about the landing before I attempted it.


I would love to have lived in the heyday of the Alaska bush pilots, my father’s generation, just after WWII. If you want to get a feel for what that was like, as much as we can, read Wager With the Wind by James Greiner. When four friends flew our two Maules to Alaska in 2017, we landed on downtown Talkeetna’s legendary Don Sheldon’s grass strip. Back then, a similar accident would be addressed by friends trying to get you back in the air as soon as possible, with no reports, insurance companies, and massive paperwork to complete. It was more about adventure, courage, camaraderie, and survival together. 

I told the gentleman who called from the Denver office of the NTSB, who was very kind and compassionate, “That’s quite a form. I’m seventy. I don’t know if I have enough time left to fill that out.” I’m just kidding, of course (sort of). I’m not cursing the darkness or calling the NTSB, FAA, or insurance companies bad guys. They are a part of why we have the safest general aviation flying in the world, offering as much freedom to US citizens as we have. And the insurance guy was as kind, sympathetic, and helpful as the NTSB representative. 

I’m grateful for the aviation experience, and we’ll see where this interruption leads us. It has been a magnificent flight in life. Thanks for listening to my story and to you who have reached out, checking on us, and wishing us the best — most hoping we fly again. Godspeed to you on your journey, and His shalom be yours in abundance.

Blessings at Gerizim

Greetings and welcome again to a current thought and my newest book Puzzling 2020.

I consider this book a somewhat eclectic group of puzzle pieces that when connected describe [1] where we are as a culture and church, [2] how we got here, and [3] how we should live in these strange times going forward. It’s addressed mainly to the community of faith and Christians, but truth is truth wherever you find it, and we all profit when we know the truth and act accordingly. “Nothing gives rest but the sincere search for truth” (Blaise Pascal).

In addressing where we are and how we got here I chose to simply point to a time in Bible history 3500 years ago when God spoke through Moses a blessing and a warning to a nation. True it was a nation, Israel, who had entered into a covenant with Him, at His invitation and by their free will. But since He’s the God of creation and the King of the universe, (the same yesterday, today, and forever), these conditions for grace and blessing, judgment and correction have been true for Israel and all the nations of faith and the whole earth for millennia as demonstrated throughout history.

The Times

When I first got the vision and leading for this book, I considered a title like Bonhoeffer, Isaiah, and Solzhenitsyn. I knew that would never fly for a title, but it described what I was seeing. These men lived in times very much like our own, in nations that were not only ignoring God, but shaking their fists at Him, going there own way, ignoring the Bible and His ways while making policies and laws in direct opposition to His truths. The three named above were seers, who saw where this would lead, tried to do something about it by speaking the words of the Lord to the people and their leaders. But the people wouldn’t listen. They were blinded by an enemy, and determined to go their own way, until the evil, injustices, and cancer of their sins invited the action of the Almighty, to save the whole, make a correction, and protect people going forward from themselves. People of faith in Germany, Israel, and Russia had read, but apparently forgotten Deuteronomy 28.

Book Blurb

“Where are we, and how did we get here — as a church and nation? Doesn’t that seem puzzling? It is to most if they are even aware our churches and country have plunged into some moral morass. This swamp has economic, health care, political, national, energy, business, security, and international ramifications unheard of and unexpected two short decades ago.
“Shortly after the COVID outbreak began in 2020, I read this chapter in a daily quiet time of reflecting and engaging the Bible. Deuteronomy 28 is timely and timeless in describing what’s happening in America and speaks to what we need to do in response. As our country went into isolation for the better part of two years, that gave us time and a chance to ponder our ways, consider what was happening, and why it might be happening.
“This chapter of the Bible describes an isolated situation. Still, it’s far from isolated in its summary and the story it tells for ancient Israel, Israel through the ages, all nations through the ages, and the USA today.
“I encourage you to read and meditate on the entire chapter so you can see its relevance. The message is very plain — the imagery is clear and explicit.”

I go on to quote a good portion of chapter 28 which is very straightforward but not unique in the Bible: “…, if you keep the commandments of the Lord your God and walk in His ways. So all the peoples of the earth will see that you are called by the name of the Lord, and they will be afraid of you. The Lord will make you abound in prosperity, in the offspring of your body and in the offspring of your beast and in the produce of your ground, in the land which the Lord swore to your fathers to give you. The Lord will open for you His good storehouse, the heavens, to give rain to your land in its season and to bless all the work of your hand; and you shall lend to many nations, but you shall not borrow. The Lord will make you the head and not the tail, and you only will be above, and you will not be underneath, if you listen to the commandments of the Lord your God, which I charge you today, to observe them carefully, and do not turn aside from any of the words which I command you today, to the right or to the left, to go after other gods to serve them [emphasis added]“ (Deuteronomy 28:1-14).

Daniel and “The Respect for Marriage Act”

As you’re no doubt aware the bipartisan congress of our country passed the act referenced above and the president signed it into law two days ago. Our country and the West has been on this tact for sometime. But this is the most incriminating, public, line-in-the-sand crossing to date. It remains to be seen how and when the Lord will react, and when and if people of faith will wake up and speak up publicly, and to the Lord in prayer.

Yesterday the thought came to me of how Daniel reacted when the bureaucrats, not the wise men, of Persia, the most powerful nation on the earth, pushed through a very bad law. Daniel, the prime minister, and one loved by the King of Persia, and the King of Kings, at great risk to himself, went on to do what he always did, in direct opposition to the bad law, honoring and fearing God more than man. “Now when Daniel knew that the document was signed, he entered his house (now in his roof chamber he had windows open toward Jerusalem); and he continued kneeling on his knees three times a day, praying and giving thanks before his God, as he had been doing previously” (Daniel 6:10).

Something Changed

Has something changed with this latest law being passed and enacted? It seems to me something is changing with the publication of Eric Metaxas’ new book Letter to the American Church. And other books like Strange New World by Carl R. Truman, and a host I’m hearing about but haven’t become familiar. It seems that the Spirit might be leading us to say and do things differently going forward. Stay tuned or wake up! Whatever and whichever applies. Follow Daniel’s lead. More to follow…


“If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be” (Thomas Jefferson).

“Where the press is free and every man able to read, all is safe” (Thomas Jefferson).

Write Your Book !

Go ahead! Write that book. “…Give wings to the truth…” (Gutenberg).

My First Book

All along the authoring path I’ve had people pull me aside and ask questions about the process of writing and publishing a book. So it’s time to speak to that briefly while it’s fresh on my mind.

As far as writing goes, I suggest to aspiring authors, “Just write!” Journal, blog, or communicate with your pen or computer whenever you feel inspired, or are given some opportunity or occasion to express yourself. All practice hones and improves your skill and effectiveness. You know if you enjoy writing and if you have something burning in you to communicate or there’s a message you want to share. Take opportunities and practice.

Personally, I journal a lot and find more and more that inspiration comes as I write. Much of my current book was lifted off the pages of my journals these past two years. In the early morning while fresh is the best time or whenever you feel inspired with thoughts or insights you haven’t known or considered before. Keep a journal or notebook handy.

It seems that the biggest reason people don’t follow through on writing or the dream of publishing a book is the mysterious publishing aspect of the process. That’s what I want to address briefly while it’s fresh on my mind. In a word, what it’s come down to for me is Booknook.biz.

This is my third book so I’m no expert, but I’ll share my experience thus far and at the moment. Amazon is the easiest place to publish — certainly for beginning authors. Their publishing company is Kindle Direct Publishing known as KDP. One can go to their website and they will lead you through their publishing process once you have your book ready as a PDF document.

However, there are “conversion” companies who exist for good reason. They help guide authors through the maze at KDP and perhaps make your book look a good deal more professional than it might otherwise, while avoiding some common pitfalls — for a price, usually a few hundred dollars to a few thousand depending on the size and complexity of your book.

New Book to be Released This Month

After researching the web for the best of these services I chose Booknook.biz and couldn’t be more pleased. They are pleasant, professional, service-oriented, and they employ an excellent website and secure email model to help guide you from start to finish through the Amazon publishing process. They also use a good deal of humor to keep you at ease and in the proper state of mind, during the stressful moments culminating in the publishing process, when you’re trying to get your book finished and get it right.

Kimberly Hitchens is the owner of Booknook.biz, “An Amazon Professional Conversion Service.” She and her staff have hundreds of books under their belts, (actually over 7,000 ebooks and 1,000 paperbacks, over the last 13 years by actual count) and many in production at any given time. They are physically located in Arizona, but everything is done on line. You can read testimonials and reviews here.

Their main service and value is taking your Word or Pages document containing your book, and formatting it to a PDF that is industry standard, artful, pleasing to the eye and attractive to the reader. That’s what you then submit to Amazon/KDP through their website. They also educate you about everything from ISBN numbers to print and book size, with sage suggestions. If you wish help to create a striking, professional cover, which I recommend, they can connect you with those services too, for an additional fee.

My Second Book /by Booknook.biz

We read in the Old and New Testaments: “The laborer is worthy of his wages” (Luke 10:7b). Booknook.biz is one of the most reasonably priced services, and they will expeditiously get your job done on a first come, first serve basis, saving you hours of format correction time. This alone makes them worth their wages. When you throw in their expertise in making your book the right size, look professional, avoid common missteps, and be aesthetically pleasing, it’s a no-brainer to employ their services — unless perhaps you are technically skilled and have the simplest of books. You’ve spent a lot of time and energy writing your book. It’s time to make it the best looking book it can be to expand its reach, make it successful, have your message heard, and give it wings.

Send them your text document containing your book and they’ll give you a free quote. For one fee, they can guide you in preparing your book so it’s ready to be printed on demand by Amazon as a hard cover, soft cover, and/or an eBook. Within a matter of days after your Booknook.biz-assisted submission to Amazon/KDP, your book will be available for purchase and shipping anywhere in the country. Enjoy your journey, and Godspeed as you write and publish what you’ve dreamed in your heart to share.

Oh yes, a word needs be said about editors. Every author needs an editor — another set of eyes and an objective mind to guard against grammatical and mechanical (spelling, punctuation, etc.) errors making your work more readable and enjoyable for your audience. I have a very good friend who’s adept at that, shares my vision for writing, and can also advise me on content due to his wisdom, education, and world view. I will mention I used Grammarly this time, to make his job easier, and my writing perhaps a bit crisper. I feel they are worth the expense. If you don’t have an editor, Booknook.biz can put you in contact with one, for an additional fee of course. That is tedious work.

I’m not sure if writing is a gift, a calling, or a dream — maybe all of those — but I do feel it’s important along with all I’ve shared to spend some time alone, in nature, and in community or people’s lives for inspiration and leading on what to say and how to say it. The most important aspect may be to spend time alone with God while you’re in these places — it is for me. His blessings and leading to you as you write!

Sunrise view to the east from the remote mountain top near our cabin — solitude


“Religious truth is captive in a small number of manuscript books, which guard the common treasure, instead of diffusing it. Let us break the seal which holds the holy things; give wings to the truth that by means of speech, no longer written at great expense by the hand that wearies itself, but multiplied as the air by an unwearied machine, it may fly to seek every soul born into the world!”

Johannes Gutenberg (Inventor of the printing press, Mainz, Germany, 1436)

Happy Thanksgiving!

It’s unbelievable how fast this year has passed as we’re well into fall and slowly recovering from the COVID pandemic of 2020, although some would question our recovery. It’s a good time to focus on giving thanks to our Creator, Father, and God.

Our country has known thanksgiving is important, and our greatest leaders felt from their hearts the need to make it public, mirroring the sentiments of the American people at different times. One of my best friends and mentors published a most excellent blog chronicling the historical, governmental, cultural, and spiritual aspects of Thanksgiving. I recommend you get quiet with a cup of coffee or tea, then read and meditate on it. You’ll be grateful you did.

Last Sunday, a passionate young teacher at our church gave an excellent sermon or teaching on thanksgiving from the Bible — its purpose, what it means to God, and to us. I would also wholeheartedly suggest you give it a look if you’re inclined.

Thanksgiving is the opposite of entitlement, which may be the biggest problem in our nation today. In the book I just finished writing, and will hopefully be available in a few days, I have a few things to say about this topic:

“I have a good friend who was the CEO of a large hospital. He once told me, ‘Entitlement is the biggest problem in our nation today.’ Why would you think that the Almighty owes you anything? Or that anyone else does? Is it your pride? Or your self-asserted importance? Self-exaltation? Who gave you life? This beautiful planet for a home? Air to breathe? Water to drink? Destiny? Purpose? Love?

“Worth is a complex issue to discuss, yet it’s simple in light of the Bible and the Creator. We are made in His image. He made creation for our habitation. This says we are very valuable to him. We are His image bearers, witnesses to angels, and to those who do not yet know Him. Yet our value to Him goes deeper still.

“If being made in His image with this beautiful planet to enjoy wasn’t enough, God gave us free will to make a mark, good or bad, on His creation and to use or abuse the same. Then if that wasn’t enough, we are twice bought, created by Him, then redeemed from sin and death by His cross. So what are we worth to Him? It would seem a price too great to pay!

“Tell me again, what does God owe you? Only a rebellious, spoiled child would think God owed them something or anything. Feeling entitled in light of the gift of life and creation is the height of hubris, the very pinnacle of pride.

“That’s why God won’t stomach it. That’s why He will welcome grace and reject forever self-effort and works or those who claim and act as though they are entitled to something more than the marvelous gifts He has given and ascribed to them. ‘For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast [emphasis added]’ (Ephesians 2:8-9).”

And I didn’t mention God’s nearness — how He walks and communes with those who love Him. If you know Him this way, you will gladly give thanks!


I know you’re thinking, “He misspelled seventy-two.” But I meant it as in “seventy also,” because this is another reflection on turning seventy, and my last. I still feel like fifty, and intend to proceed into the future with that mindset until gravity or revolutions around the sun dictate otherwise.

Do you feel you’re speeding through your life without meaning? Do you think you’re standing still? Are you stuck in the mud in your personal life during difficult times — times that are seemingly getting worse? I can’t speak to those perceived or actual situations, but I can speak to the time standing still part. It doesn’t.

The earth spins counterclockwise 1000 mph at the equator. It travels 67,000 mph around the sun traveling 18 miles per second or 1.6 million miles per day. The sun travels around the center of our Milky Way galaxy at just over 500,000 mph in an almost-circular, clockwise orbit. We won’t even speak to our Milky Way galaxy’s speed and direction or the expanding universe.

Do you feel dizzy? Wonder of wonders, you should feel dizzy and disoriented with all that motion beneath your feet and around your body, but you do not.

Some wise One, a Creator extraordinaire, has so ordered your existence, that you can walk, breathe, observe, live and love on a rock with water and oxygen flying through space for 70 to 80 revolutions around a star called the sun feeling permanency, stability, security, and order.

He’s also gifted us the godlike quality to rule and reign in a garden on this rock hurling through space. He allows us to exercise a choice to have relationships with others and with Him, or not, according to our individual desires and wills.

I would suggest He’s still near and He still helps from behind the veil. History, the Bible, and science would indicate that is so. That said, the space travel paragraphs are also true and utterly astonishing. Selah (Hebrew for “stop and think about that”).


“Thank you Father for 70 revolutions around the sun. Thank You for the gift of the present — today. Thank You for the promise of Your presence in my life in the decade/s to come, then for transport to Your home where there is no time. There is only eternity, and the eternity You’ve placed in my heart. Amen.” A Prayer of Thanksgiving

“Do not tremble and do not be afraid; have I not long since announced it to you and declared it? And you are My witnesses. Is there any God besides Me, or is there any other Rock? I know of none” (Isaiah 44:8).

“The God who made the world and all things in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands; nor is He served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives to all people life and breath and all things; and He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation, that they would seek God, if perhaps they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us” (Acts 17:24-27).


70 is a special number, and a special time in life. Two Greek words for time come to mind. Chronos means sequential time as in day after day, hour after hour, and week after week. Kairos means a special period of time or an opportune time for action. Beginning a new decade, especially the later decades, brings both kinds of time into clearer and more meaningful focus.

Ecclesiastes also comes to mind: “He has made everything beautiful in its time.” And yes, the last part of that verse points out there are some things hidden from us — something mysterious to be puzzled out or revealed. “Yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end” (Ecclesiastes 3:11).

My life has been more than 70 revolutions around the sun.The more time you live, the more knowledge, wisdom, and experience you accumulate. You start to see more clearly “the beautiful” and “its time” — also the mystery. The mystery becomes more beautiful because it points to the Eternal.

One should not take our time in this life so seriously because of what we see with our natural eyes. We know everyone dies. We also sense there is more to life. A long chronology or length of years is not to be our only goal or perhaps a goal at all. Besides, much of that is out of our hands (Ecclesiastes 8:8).

In another sense, we should take our time seriously because it is meaningful and prepares us for something meaningful. This could apply to all of our days, but especially the kairos times that seem to set or alter the course for our future. Examples are important exams, career choices, marriage choices, major purchases, or opportunities and calamities that come our way.

Something very special is hidden from our view behind a very thin but impenetrable veil.

The longer and closer you walk with the Holy Spirit, the more you perceive and know it to be true. The more time you read the Bible and look around at your life and world events, the more you know it and smile inside at the reality assured.

In respect and appreciation I vail before the King, bowing my knee and heart to the One just behind the veil.


“Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen” (1 Timothy 1:17 NIV).

Our days may come to seventy years, or eighty, if our strength endures; yet the best of them are but trouble and sorrow, for they quickly pass, and we fly away [emphasis added]” (Psalm 90:10).

“Lord, you have been our dwelling place throughout all generations. Before the mountains were born or you brought forth the whole world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God. You turn people back to dust, saying, ‘Return to dust, you mortals.’ A thousand years in your sight are like a day that has just gone by, or like a watch in the night [emphasis added]” (Psalm 90:1-4). Moses 1500 BC

“You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever [emphasis added]” (Psalm 23:5-6).

Dwayne Turns Seventy

Midterm Election 2022

On Election Day, November 8, during her early morning neighborhood walk my wife sent me this quote someone tweeted: “Before you vote please fill up your car with gas, buy your groceries for the week, take a peek at your retirement account, and look at current government spending.”

What’s happening at the moment to our economy and way of life is no mystery to those who carefully read their Bibles and have some grasp of history. I would recommend Deuteronomy 28, and Alexander Solzhenitsyn’s One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich as a beginning place. No socialistic, secular-humanist people have lasted long as a nation. Without God’s blessings and actions in our individual and corporate lives we implode, make poor decisions, become easy targets for our enemies, and demonstrate we really do need Him — unable to rule ourselves.

In my upcoming book Puzzling 2020, Connecting the Pieces I mention that I don’t put my hope in the political process or politics. I do think politics are important and touch our lives deeply at times in very personal ways, so I vote and pray for candidates with the best character to win. I encourage my friends to do the same. But my hope is in God, the Rock, the Everlasting One — the God of history and Ruler of nations.

I recall now a favorite quote from Charles Simpson: “Good men can make a bad system work, but bad men can’t even make a good system work.” God is the X factor in making men and women, as well as nations comprised of the same, flourish or perish, for their own benefit.

A few relevant Bible verses come to mind: “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people” (Proverbs 14:34). “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, the people whom He has chosen for His own inheritance” (Psalm 33:12). And, “When the righteous increase, the people rejoice, but when a wicked man rules, people groan” (Proverbs 29:2).

Before leaving you with these thoughts to ponder as fodder for action, I’ll give a shout out to an excellent book addressing this subject in an insightful way. Its title is Letter to the American Church by Eric Metaxas. Our 20/20 Men’s Book Club and friendship group is currently reading it. I’m only 10 pages into this succinct 139-page book and can see it’s worth the money and time spent reading it already. May God bless you and yours.


“Why are the nations in an uproar and the peoples devising a vain thing? The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers take counsel together against the Lord and against His Anointed, saying, ‘Let us tear their fetters apart and cast away their cords from us!’ He who sits in the heavens laughs, the Lord scoffs at them. Then He will speak to them in His anger and terrify them in His fury, saying, ‘But as for Me, I have installed My King upon Zion, My holy mountain’” (Psalm 2:1-6 NASB).

“But where sin abounded, grace abounded much more” (Romans 5:20b NKJV).

Puzzling 2020

“The reading of all good books is like a conversation with the finest minds of past centuries.” 

Greetings All, my blog has been rather silent for the past weeks and months as I’ve focused on finishing my third book Puzzling 2020. It should be available in mid December, and I’m very excited. The book’s cover blurb speaks to its purpose:

“Einstein said, ‘Adversity introduces a man to himself.’ The pandemic and explosion of events beginning in 2020 certainly did that to Americans, both the culture and the church. Many things were stripped away from our lives as we pondered how to stay healthy. Some reacted in fear, and some in faith. It caused everyone to reexamine who they trusted for valid information about safety, health, and hope for the future. Puzzling these events, even after two years, a resolution is still inconclusive. This book seeks to answer some basic questions: “Where are we? How did we get here? Where do we go from here, or how do we live in these puzzling times?” We look to the Bible, history, and God for insight and truth — and for grace to live with purpose and without fear. These puzzle pieces will help you “Light a candle, instead of cursing the darkness.”

I hope you’ll give it a look. I think it certainly gives readers a better grasp on where we are as a culture and church, and more importantly, a healthy paradigm or world view for how to live in our day — the present, a gift from our Creator God.

Its seventy short chapters, or puzzle pieces, could be used as a devotional or daily meditation. Hopefully it will bring spiritual sight, light, joy, and renewed purpose.

By using the Descartes quote I didn’t mean to claim a “fine mind,” but simply give a shoutout to reading as a spiritual discipline. By reading, you humble yourself to hear someone else’s thoughts. You also slow yourself, still yourself, and are alone with your thoughts as you read, away from the din of the media, technology, and rush of our time. It’s like a mini vacation refreshing the soul.

Shalom, and stay tuned for more frequent blogs this beautiful autumn.


“Whosoever is delighted in solitude, is either a wild beast or a god.”
― Aristotle

Easter in Emmaus

Easter 2022

Easter is such a special time, because spring and new life is evident everywhere and coming forth with a ferocity that one can’t ignore. One looks at brown soil one day and a green-grass carpet the next. Trees without a single leaf yesterday now flutter in the wind by thousands or millions, and colorful flowers pop out of the ground from seemingly nowhere. It’s as if Someone commanded them to come forth. It seems mystical, magical, and beautiful. It makes our hearts sing with hope and expectation of warmer seasons, longer days, and more light to work and play.

That’s fitting and apropos, but not the real meaning of Easter per se. New spiritual life has been made possible and commanded to come forth from the original passion week culminating in Christ’s resurrection — life from death indeed. It’s hard to put into words for those who see, yet it makes our hearts swell and feel alive, with hope for better days in this life and then for eternity with the One whose sacrifice made it possible. Amen.

Something changed in response to the light of the sun and the tilt of the earth. Something changed in response to the light of the Son and the inclination of a human heart and head. That’s the spirit and truth about Easter. It’s not that simple, and it’s not that complicated. Maybe it isn’t elementary to explain precisely or in detail, but simple to experience because the grace and revelation are there, awaiting the key of faith.

The Road

The road to Emmaus provides many insights into its complexity and simplicity. And why our hearts are full of joy and excitement at Easter’s realization. Our pastor preached on this today, and most of the insights I share here are from his sermon. It’s beautiful synchronicity to me that I wrote a chapter in my upcoming book, “The Puzzles of 2020?” over the weekend saying that the vision or dreams of many had been altered or crushed by the COVID pandemic, and the cure for crushed dreams and blurred vision is a fresh encounter with God. I used Elijah and Isaiah as examples. Then in a Good Friday blog, I cited this same Emmaus incident:

“Maybe the dashed dreams of his disciples and those who believed Jesus to be the Son of God (as He claimed and His miracles attested), the promised Jewish Messiah and King, are summed up by two of his disciples walking to their hometown, Emmaus. They said to a stranger walking with them: ‘Are you the only one visiting Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days? … ‘About Jesus of Nazareth,’ they replied. ‘He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people. The chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him; but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel’” (Luke 24:18b-21a).

The Luminary

Their answer describes the rather hopeless state of two friends walking home, their vision and dreams crushed. They were about to have a God encounter. But it took a while for the light to dawn. That the light did dawn is the most beautiful part of the story for all of us. But fascinating too is that it took a while for its truth to light upon them. Let’s look at Luke 24 for what it might teach us.

I will take some liberties and assume that most of you have read or heard the story many times and have gleaned lots of truth. So I’ll move quickly and trust your familiarity will help you appreciate these insights and apprehend them quickly. They speak to our day and age of doubt and skepticism. They speak to the need for revelation and illumination. It’s a beautiful mystery that is more easily caught than taught, as this story illustrates. Let’s dive in.

These two travelers are on the dark road of doubt. Are you in a dark place? Are you having a debate or an argument about your faith? Are you slow of heart to believe — foolish? Are you walking away from your faith? Do you think Jesus let you down? Jesus himself met these two on the road in this very situation.

Many of us ascribe to the saying, “Seeing is believing.” But these guys have the resurrection staring them in the face, and they’re not believing. Jesus starts to draw them into a conversation, “What are you talking about?” They answer him with their gloomy and doubting assessment that I recorded above. It’s ironic that Cleopas speaking a bit rudely, says: “Are you the only one visiting Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?” (Luke 24:18). It’s ironic because he’s the one who isn’t aware of what happened in Jerusalem during these days.

They had hoped for what they did not see. How can they reconcile this in their mind? They saw Jesus suffering and then dying. Our suffering can drive us to moments of doubt. Do you have your vision of a king? A savior? What will he look like? Obviously, this is not what they expected of Jesus.

But now we see the stranger (Jesus) rebuke them a little bit: “‘How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Messiah have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?’ And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself [emphasis added]” (Luke 24:25-27 NIV).

What about us?! They should know because of what He told them during 3 1/2 years together. They also knew the Scriptures they had pretty well. Then what about us? Indeed, we have more of the story, more evidence, and more proof to understand the happenings that day and believe Jesus and everything He told us. So we should quickly and easily move into His life by faith. Isn’t this a reasonable expectation? Isn’t this His expectation? You decide. But there are some tricky parts to the story we’ve not addressed yet.

Let’s back up toward the beginning of the story: “As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; but they were kept from recognizing him [emphasis added]” (Luke 24:15). They were kept from recognizing him! What do we make of this, especially in light of the rest of the story? On the surface, it seems that it takes God’s action for people to recognize Jesus, at least in part. Let’s go on with the story, remembering they just received one last Bible lesson.

Breaking Bread

Will they get it? The suspense grows as they reach their home, and Jesus continues to travel onward: “As they approached the village to which they were going, Jesus continued as if he were going farther. But they urged him strongly, ‘Stay with us, for it is nearly evening; the day is almost over.’ So he went in to stay with them” (Luke 24:28-29). 

Then what? They sat down to eat: “When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him [emphasis added]” (Luke 24:30-31a). So it is; your eyes must be opened to see Him as He is. So it is, if He breaks the bread of revelation for you Himself, you know it. And you’re never the same! You don’t live by bread alone any longer, but by every word or revelation that proceeds from God. 

It’s fascinating what happened next: “and he disappeared from their sight” (Luke 24:31b). While He was with them, they didn’t recognize Him. When they recognized Him, He vanished.” Apparently, after you see the Son, then from then on, you relate to Him mainly by His Spirit. It’s not merely semantics, and it doesn’t matter either. You know it’s Him, and He can teach you how it works by walking, or by revelation from His Word, or revelation period. You’ve seen the resurrected Lord, and you can trust Him and live with Him in a new way on a new day. That’s the Gospel, and that’s a fact.

Burning Hearts

How do we know? Burning hearts demonstrated what they had seen and experienced — the living, resurrected Lord. He disappeared from their sight in bodily form, and all of a sudden, they doubted no more and spoke of it: “They asked each other, ‘Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?’” (Luke 24:32). 

Not only that, with their sorrow turned to joy, they hurried back into Jerusalem, but not in the same spirit they had departed. They were delighted with the new reality and couldn’t wait to share it with their brothers. Travel wasn’t that safe at night, and they didn’t have street lights, but off they went on the seven-mile trek to tell their friends what they had seen, heard, and experienced with great joy. It couldn’t wait! Their actions are more evidence of their burning hearts: “They got up and returned at once to Jerusalem. There they found the Eleven and those with them, assembled together and saying, ‘It is true! The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon.’ Then the two told what had happened on the way, and how Jesus was recognized by them when he broke the bread” (Luke 24:33-35).

What Happens Next?

It gets better! And it’s more of the same. Humans are sometimes dull, hard to convince, and slow to believe. The Lord Himself shows up immediately after these two tell their story to the disciples! You’d think this timing and this appearance would do a great deal for them and put all doubt aside about what had happened. Wouldn’t you?

Let’s take a glimpse: “While they were still talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, ‘Peace be with you.

They were startled and frightened, thinking they saw a ghost. He said to them, ‘Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds? Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have.’ When he had said this, he showed them his hands and feet. And while they still did not believe it because of joy and amazement, he asked them, ‘Do you have anything here to eat?’ They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate it in their presence [emphasis added]” (Luke 24:36-43). 

I’m sure Jesus enjoyed the fish and the beautiful reunion moment with His followers and friends, but He had to shake His head at their continuing unbelief! At first, they didn’t believe because of fear and disillusionment. Now they don’t believe because of joy and amazement!

I will choose to believe the best and step out on a limb a bit and say they couldn’t be rational or use their hearts and minds to believe or process because of all the joy at His surprise visit. He was alive! With them! Just like before the crucifixion and burial. It was like being surprised by a dear old friend who’s come knocking at your door late at night, and you say, “I can’t believe it’s you!” Or, “I can’t believe you’re standing here!” But multiply that feeling times a quad zillion. They had been separated by death!

That said, I still find this a bit puzzling or disconcerting. Maybe you can’t process things with all that flood of emotion, but you still know Who is standing there, and it shouldn’t take anything else to believe. Well, let’s move on to what happens next. It does add a little bit of clarity.

Jesus went on: “He said to them, ‘This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms’” (Luke 24:44). This reminder was helpful and got them to piece the puzzles of Scripture together again with what they had just seen happen and experienced. But what happens next seems to be the rest of the story and the part we usually don’t notice and don’t understand.

What did Jesus do next: “Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures [emphasis added]” (Luke 24:45). 

Is this the same as breaking bread for them and with them? Maybe so. At any rate, what they didn’t believe before, they understood and believed now. Again, there appears to be an unseen God part in moving from doubt to belief. Because we have grown up in a secular, materialist culture and churches many times, we have trouble with the unseen. But it’s central to the Bible, and we must be schizophrenic not to realize it and function in that realm. Jesus told the woman at the well: “God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth” (John 4:24). And what Jesus told Nicodemus in John chapter 3 is the key and secret (an open secret) to life in the Spirit and life in the Kingdom.

What A Day!

Jesus was now telling His disciples something for the last time. I think He had their attention: “He told them, ‘This is what is written: The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high [emphasis added]’” (Luke 24:46-49).

So Jesus finished this welcome surprise and exhilarating visit with a charge and a promise to them. Wow! What a day! Easter, April 7, 33 AD! They know again they are accepted by God, their sins are forgiven, taken away by His sacrifice, and now they receive new directions and vision for the future — a future not devoid of Him. What could be better?! They could now sleep in peace! Or maybe they couldn’t sleep at all? Because He told them He would do something else for them not many days from now. 

Then he led them out to Bethany, a place they had often enjoyed with Him, blessed them, and left them — but not for long. To be continued in ten days, on Pentecost.


“He is not here, for He has risen, just as He said. Come, see the place where He was lying” (Matthew 28:6)

An Easter Hallelujah of Innocence and Beauty

Ben Wilson’s Easter Sermon at Harvest Church Fayetteville AR

Requiem & Selah

I wrote a blog yesterday morning, or actually, a chapter in my next book, “The Puzzles of 2020,” about broken dreams and visions and needing a fresh encounter with God to repair our hearts, renew our vision, and fix our focus. I used Elijah and Isaiah as examples, which was instructive for me.

This morning, when one considers the gravity of this day and what happened on a cross in Roman Jerusalem 1989 years ago today, there is no comparison for matching broken dreams and crushed visions in the history of humankind. Every human soul on that day, before, and since was on a slippery slope to hopelessness and oblivion.

A miracle-working king, good and just, merciful too, kind and gracious, morally astute, with the appearance of a Divine, also a link to heaven and the Holy One, the Creator, had just died.

He died the cruel death of a sinner, a transgressor, a criminal, no less. The hopes and vision of thousands of his followers were crushed with his ebbing bleeding, internally and externally, and each labored breath.

Maybe the dashed dreams of his disciples and those who believed Jesus to be the Son of God (as He claimed and His miracles attested), the promised Jewish Messiah and King, are summed up by two of his disciples walking to their hometown, Emmaus. They said to a stranger walking with them: “Are you the only one visiting Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days? … ‘About Jesus of Nazareth,’ they replied. “He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people. The chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him; but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel” (Luke 24:18b-21a).

He didn’t say much. He just hung there, painfully suspended between heaven and earth.

There was a simple sign over his head. It read: “Jesus of Nazareth, king of the Jews.”

Requiem & Selah

Let today be “an act of remembrance” and of us “resting in peace,” as we “stop and think about that.”

We pause and remember. So does Heaven. Let all the earth be silent.