As we delve into today’s Scripture, we encounter a profound message about leadership and character.

An elder must be blameless, faithful to his wife, a man whose children believe and are not open to the charge of being wild and disobedient (Titus 1:6)

It reminds us of the qualities that should be present in those who hold positions of authority and responsibility. It speaks to the importance of living a life of integrity and faithfulness, serving as an example to others.

The passage encourages us to examine the qualities of leaders, specifically focusing on the virtue of being “blameless.” This doesn’t mean perfection or never making mistakes, but rather a consistent commitment to living a life of righteousness and faith.

It challenges us to reflect on our own lives and consider whether we are modeling these qualities in our own spheres of influence.

In our world today, we often witness a lack of integrity and moral character among those in positions of power. But as followers of Christ, we are called to a higher standard. We are called to be people of integrity, displaying a character that reflects our faith in all aspects of our lives.

Our words, actions, and decisions should align with the teachings of Christ and demonstrate our commitment to truth, justice, and love.

Take this message to heart and endeavor to be blameless leaders, not just in formal positions of authority but also in our everyday lives. May our words and actions bear witness to the transforming power of Christ in us.

May our example inspire others to seek after righteousness and to follow in the footsteps of our blameless Savior.

Posted by onthesolidrock in Daily Inspiration, Discipline, Ministries
Hungry and Thirsty

Hungry and Thirsty

Matthew 25:35 reminds us of the importance of showing compassion and care for others.

“For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in”

Jesus commends those who have reached out to the vulnerable, providing them with food, clothing, and support. This verse highlights the significance of practical acts of love and kindness, emphasizing that when we serve others, we are ultimately serving Christ Himself.

The message of this verse aligns with the teachings of Jesus throughout the Gospels, where He repeatedly emphasizes the value of loving our neighbors as ourselves.

It challenges us to examine how we can extend a helping hand to those in need, whether it be through providing physical sustenance, emotional support, or any other form of assistance.

It reminds us that even the smallest acts of compassion can have a significant impact on someone’s life.

As followers of Christ, we are called to be instruments of His love and mercy in the world.

Matthew 25:35 serves as a gentle yet powerful reminder that our faith is not merely about beliefs or rituals, but about actively living out the love of Christ in tangible ways.

Posted by onthesolidrock in Daily Inspiration, Ministries
A Treasured Possession

A Treasured Possession

God speaks to the Israelites through Moses, telling them that they will be His treasured possession and a kingdom of priests, Exodus 19:5

“Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine”

This verse reveals an important truth about our relationship with God and the calling He has placed upon us.

God sees each one of us as His treasured possession. He values us deeply and desires a personal relationship with us. We are not just random beings wandering through life, but rather chosen and loved by our Creator.

Additionally, God calls us to be a kingdom of priests. In ancient times, priests served as intermediaries between God and the people, offering sacrifices and representing the people before God.

We are also called to be representatives of God’s love, grace, and truth in the world. We have the privilege and responsibility to reflect His character, share His message, and intercede on behalf of others.

Embrace your identity as God’s treasured possession and an ambassador of His kingdom. Recognize your worth and value in His eyes. Cultivate a deep and intimate relationship with Him through prayer, study of His Word, and fellowship with other believers.

And as you go about your daily life, remember that you are called to be a light, bringing God’s love and truth to those around you. May your life reflect the beauty of being a treasured possession of the King.

Posted by onthesolidrock in Daily Inspiration, Faith, Holiness, Humility, Ministries
Now this is Grace!

Now this is Grace!

It’s easy to get caught up in comparisons and self-doubt, but Paul reminds us in 2 Corinthians 8:9 that our worth and value do not come from what we have or accomplish, but from the grace of God.

“For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.”

Jesus, who had everything, gave it all up to become a human and live a humble life. He didn’t come to be served, but to serve and give His life as a ransom for many.

This selfless act of Jesus is a powerful reminder that true greatness is found in humility and service to others.

We don’t have to have it all together or be the best at everything to make a difference in the world.

As you seek to live a life that reflects the love of Christ, focus on serving and giving to others rather than striving for success or recognition.

When you take our eyes off yourself and your own limitations and focus on the needs of others, you are able to make a real impact in the world around you.

Follow the example of Christ and use what you have to serve and bless others, knowing that your worth and value come from Him alone.

Posted by onthesolidrock in Daily Inspiration, Faith, Humility, Ministries, Trust
Holiness – Can’t See God Without It – Part 1

Holiness – Can’t See God Without It – Part 1

There may be no other word used in the Bible that congers up more confusion and misunderstanding than the word holiness. Sometimes when we think of holiness, we see visions of a stern and stoic group of people, living under harsh rules and regulations, devoid of laughter and mirth.


Many of us grew up with a skewed view of what holiness is, and many think being holy will cause so much discomfort that they choose to avoid getting to close to churches that espouse to be a holiness church.


I am hopeful we can shed some light on what exactly it means to be holy and why it will bring joyful exuberance to your life; more than you ever could have imagined!


The Bible reveals how very important holiness is; without it, we are in trouble!


Hebrews 12:14

Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness, no one will see the Lord.


In light of this, it is important to understand what this means, so much depends on it! The word used for “holiness” is this:

Hagiasmos     hag-ee-as-mos‘   –  purification, a state of purity; to be consecrated, sanctification


When the Hebrews established a system of sacrificing to God, they built a large temple in Jerusalem. All of the temple equipment went through a ritual of cleansing and was consecrated to God; that ceremonial cleansing, made those objects, holy unto the Lord. All of that equipment was declared to be “set apart” different from other items, because they were dedicated, and consecrated to God and His use.


Remember, God is Holy and CANNOT be in the presence of sin; to be in God’s service, holiness is NOT OPTIONAL! To be Holy unto the Lord, is to be set apart for God and for His purposes ONLY.


Holiness is a product of Grace; none of us did anything to become holy. In and of ourselves there is nothing holy about us; but by faith, through grace, we came to Christ . . . and He declared us holy!


God’s greatest desire is that we would enjoy close friendship with Him. He wants us to “hang out with Him” and He wants us to share His nature too. When we come to Christ, we were, as the Bible declares . . .


Colossians 1:13

For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves . . .


We were rescued from a life of darkness and brought into a new place; the Kingdom of the Son. We are a part of a new family and the way this family operates is very different from the way we used to do things. God wants us to get to know Him and to become more like Him, and He is holy.


There is a great deal of confusion over what true holiness is and we can easily get caught up in what we often refer to as legalism. I define legalism as “legislated righteousness.”


When we lay down a bunch of rules and regulations, declaring that holiness is granted, according to our obedience to these rules, insisting they be followed; that is legalism.


Jesus alone declares us Holy by virtue of being “washed” in His Blood!


The Israelites received the Law of God through Moses; yet following it to the letter never brought salvation. The law was a continual reminder of the sinfulness of the people who were to live by it!


Even today, those attempting to live under those laws, certainly feel a sense of condemnation hanging over their head. They cannot keep to the law entirely; try as they might, they just can’t do it; they live with an overwhelming sense of guilt and shame for being unable to.


James 2:10For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it.


We soon find ourselves in the predicament Paul spoke of in his letter to the church in Rome . . .


Romans 7:14-20

We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. 15 I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. 16 And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. 17 As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. 18 For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.


Does this sound familiar; perhaps is may very well describe the way you feel.


Too often, folks will want to “try to be a Christian.” It is in the trying that life often becomes so unbearable that they slip away, never feeling as though they will ever measure up to the standards that God has laid down for them to live by. Disillusioned and sad, they go away hurt and confused; some never recover from this!


When we try to be a Christian, we fall into a performance-based religion and we quickly realize that something is out of kilter here. While the mind and heart may want to change and fall in line with these new rules and regulations, something deep inside intuitively knows that this is not the “real” you.


We tend to base our Christianity on how well we perform it. Instead of “being” a Christian, we try to “do” Christianity; we put on happy Christian faces and say all the right Christian things, trying to assure folks we are certainly a Christian. We tend to wear “two hats” one when we are around church folks and another around worldly folk; the difference is glaring!


When it comes to God’s law, we know it is good. The whole purpose of God’s law was to show us what He is like. It is as if God is asking; “Would you like Me to be your God? If you do, then this is what I am like.”


The law of God, quickly reveals that we are nowhere near being like Him; those laws reveal just how far away from God we really are! Recognizing this disparity causes us great conviction and we humble ourselves and come to Jesus. The law of God helps us understand our need for salvation; it moves us toward salvation.


Jesus declares in John 6:44; “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them” Drawn to God, we come to a “flash point” and then in an amazing, God inspired act of grace, we come to faith and believe in Christ, rescued and brought into His kingdom. The law of God accomplished its mission!


Now, as we learn to live in this new kingdom, the law no longer has hold over us; or rather, it does not condemn us. Oh, it still stands, and it is still righteous, and it remains a strong reminder of what the character of God is like; but we are now on the other side of that law, and we are now safely in the kingdom.


  • Without the gift of Christ, the law stood in judgment of us and we were certainly condemned. The law stood as a reminder of our sinful nature and we lived in fear. Now, as a redeemed child of God, that fear is lifted, and we live in, and under, grace!


We can go back to that amazing passage in the Book of Romans we referred to earlier . . . the one where Paul struggled with sin. The following chapter is a celebration of life being lived differently.


Romans 8:1-11

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, 2 because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death. 3 For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering. And so, he condemned sin in the flesh, 4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

5 Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. 6 The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. 7 The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. 8 Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God.

9 You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ. 10 But if Christ is in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the Spirit gives life because of righteousness. 11 And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you.


So, we can clearly see that when we come to faith in Christ, we are set free from the law; it has done its work and we are now living by the Spirit . . . this is really good news!


Remember, the purpose of holiness, is to allow us to be in right relationship with God Himself; set apart for Him and His purposes ONLY. When we believed in Christ for redemption and we transferred into His kingdom, we became holy; not by anything we did, but by what He did. His sacrifice and His Blood washed away the stains of sin and we were declared holy!


Now here is the clincher . . . listen to these three passages . . .


Hebrews 12:14

Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord.


2 Corinthians 7:1

Therefore, since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God.


1 Peter 1:13-16

Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming. 14 As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. 15 But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; 16 for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.”


In all three of these passages, the admonishment to be holy and to keep ourselves separated to God is clear. Unlike the articles used in the temple of God, we make choices and we have free will. Now rescued from the world of darkness, we have an obligation to stay in the Kingdom of His Son.


We are part of a family, God’s family, and there ARE rules to follow and new ways to learn.


These passages; written to us so that we would be mindful of the awesome responsibility we all have as followers of Jesus and that is to keep ourselves holy.


It is here . . . right here, where the issues of legalism and rule-making and breaking come into play. We not only have a responsibility to God, but to one another. In order to keep everyone on the same page . . . so to speak, we often make additional rules and regulations to live by; markers along the way to keep any wayward folks in check.


While rules and regulations have great value, they do not save. These man-made rules and regulations may keep you from getting hurt or hurting others, but they, in and of themselves, cannot save you, nor can they keep you saved!


Once the law propelled us to Christ and we were born again into the Kingdom of the Son, the work of the law was finished; its mission accomplished!


Under the Spirit, when we sin, we are no longer condemned, but convicted and there is a huge difference! Under the Spirit, we don’t want to sin; we are getting to know God more and more; Jesus is the One who extends His hand to us and says; “Come, follow me.” It is in the following, that we grow and find our place in the Kingdom of God. It is in the following that our lives begin to take on the likeness of Jesus.


I have often been asked by anxious people; “Pastor; is my lifestyle going to send me to hell?” The real issue is not lifestyle, but life. Anyone one without Christ is lost and according to Jesus, they are condemned already.


 “Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already. . . “               John 3:18


The person who is lost will spend eternity without Christ, not because of a lifestyle, but because they have not come to Christ.


I say to that questioning soul; they need Jesus, redemption is only in Him. When Jesus reaches out His hand, and you decide to follow Him; your lifestyle will begin to look remarkably like His! Oh, and by the way, His lifestyle is holy!


Walking with Jesus is not for the fainthearted. It is not an easy walk and the way can be difficult. He quickly reveals areas of your life that need attention. He will want you to learn to trust Him; with relationships, finances, children, your future, your health and much, much more!


Keep in mind that you have been transferred out of the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of light, and it may take a while before you get everything right; just remember, as a child of the King, you are no longer under condemnation, but you have been set free!


Let’s keep pursuing the way of holiness together and see where it leads . . . this is going to be good!


Next week, Lord willing . . . Part II

Posted by onthesolidrock in Discipline, Faith, Family, Holiness, Humility, Ministries, Prayer, Thankfulness, Trust, 0 comments
2019 – What a Year!

2019 – What a Year!

We wanted to drop a note sharing a few highlights of our evangelistic endeavors for the calendar year 2019.

We had the privilege of preaching (35) Sunday services in various churches across Pennsylvania. Our target churches are primarily Free Methodist Churches, but we were also thrilled to share in several “Wesleyan” churches as well.

We also had the joy of leading the Pine Grove Family Camp in Saratoga Springs this year. We led the evening preaching, and the morning Bible studies, an amazing time for sure!

While in Saratoga Springs, we met Nick Caras, the area director of the Saratoga Springs Race Track Chaplaincy. He gave us the grand tour of the Racetrack in Saratoga Springs, introducing us to many of the workers there. Prior to the annual races, over 3500, mostly migrant workers arrive and work behind the scenes to make the race happen. Nick Caras and his team minister to those workers, providing counseling, worship services, and prayer. What a ministry!

Along with preaching, Sherri led several women’s retreats, performed a wedding, and led a memorial service requested by a family we had known for many years.

We traveled over 7000 miles sharing the Gospel, challenging churches to step up and step into, the calling God has graciously given to everyone who names Jesus as Lord!

We are looking forward to another exciting year serving the church; if you need us, give us a shout and we will do our best to help where we can!


Posted by onthesolidrock in Faith, Ministries, Trust, 0 comments
The Lamb of God

The Lamb of God

Dear Friends,

I love all of you; this not a cliché, I mean it! If you get into trouble, I would do my best to help you. I would go to great lengths to provide hope and give a hand where I can.

That being said, if I found you in a situation, where the only way to secure your rescue, required my death, I am not sure you would be on the list, there may be a few, very precious few!

If securing your freedom required the death of one of my children, that list goes to zero. I love you, but not that much!

As we come near to this Good Friday, we are, faced with the reality of what God the Father did on your behalf. You are broken, lost, and beyond repair; according to the Bible, you are condemned already!

God the Father dispatched His ONLY begotten Son, to suffer a gruesome death on your behalf, thereby securing your freedom; the cost was high, the suffering real, and the outcome secure.

When you accept the gift He gave, you can be sure the Father is delighted, that this sacrifice was not in vain for you!

When you reject it, you will grieve the loving heart of God, and His wrath remains on you; wrath rightly deserved. Think twice about casually casting the idea of Jesus death, burial, and resurrection as a light thing; it is YOUR ONLY hope!

Take a moment, and consider Jesus, look into what He did, and why . . . then make a decision, but do not make it lightly!


“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.”     ~Jesus~

Posted by onthesolidrock in Faith, Holiness, Humility, Love, Ministries, Trust, 0 comments
Roaring Lion

Roaring Lion

Satan has considerable influence in our society. His malevolent intentions are evident the world over.

It seems with each passing day, the darkness of the devil’s evil persuasion is poisoning the hearts and minds of humanity in ever increasing proportions.

We must remain vigilant and on guard, keeping our minds clear of distractions, otherwise we fall into sin, becoming ineffective in our prayer, and even becoming a tool in that hands of our enemy.


“Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”

Posted by onthesolidrock in Discipline, Faith, Holiness, Ministries, Prayer, Trust, 0 comments
Pray Upside Down Series

Pray Upside Down Series

For many years I have been trying to put together a series of Bible Studies designed to help the Christian understand their true position in Christ.

Finally, I have set aside the time and put them altogether, The studies were born out of my own desire to understand the power of prayer, and how this meshes with our relationship to Jesus.

My experience in pastoral ministry took place in rural Pennsylvania; nestled in the mountains of Cameron County, the heart of the Pennsylvania Wilds.

A small community with big problems

 Like many small rural communities, the one my wife, Sherri and I served, had its fair share of problems. Having lived in the community for many years, we knew in detail the problems associated with the town; problems of drug abuse, alcoholism, suicide and sexual abuse. These issues were far more common than folks there care to admit.

As pastors in this community, we saw firsthand the hurt and pain the devil had inflicted upon the community, and we began earnestly to pray for the deliverance of this town.

For many years, every Sunday morning, Sherri and I would head to an overlook that provided a stunning view of our little town, and we would pray there.

On one particular occasion, I went alone and began praying over the town; what happened that day would change my life forever!

An encounter with God on the mountain

I stood where I could see the whole town and began praying against the powers and principalities that had been enslaving the people in my community.

Determined to see a breakthrough, I was passionately praying aloud, fists punching at the sky as if pounding on the devil himself!

It was then the most unexpected thing happened; the Lord seemed to draw near, I could sense His Presence, and while I was praying, He asked me a question. To the best of my recollection, here is how the conversation unfolded.

The Lord said to me; “Rock, what are you doing?”

I was somewhat taken aback, it seemed obvious to me what I was doing, so I answered the Lord; “I am praying.”

He said in the kindest way possible; “Why are you praying like that, punching at the sky?”

I was not sure what He was getting at, and I really did not know how to answer, so I responded; “This is how I do it.”

There was a pause, and then he asked me another question; “Rock, where are you?”

I am getting even more confused now, and all I could do was to say; “I’m here, Lord!” There was another pause, and then He rephrased the same question,

“Rock, spiritually where are you?”

I responded by saying, “I’m with you, Lord.” It was then that the Scripture from Ephesians 2:6 (And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus) came rushing to my heart.

The Lord asked me again; “Rock, where are you?”

 I responded; “I am seated with Christ in the heavenly realms” What the Lord said next would forever change my life and ministry!

The Lord said to me; “Rock, stop praying with your fists pounding at the sky, as if you were fighting an enemy that you are in subjection to. Start praying from your true position in Me.

God taught me to pray Upside Down

Instead of praying with a down-side up mentality, pray from the up-side down; from the heavenly realm where you are seated; the battle is not over your head, but is under your feet.”

Wow, stunned by what had just taken place, I realized that much of my prayer life took place without recognizing the authority with which one could pray.

I learned that I do have authority and that I can pray expecting powerful answers. That day on the mountain changed everything!

 It was out of this encounter with the Lord on that mountain, the idea of Praying Up-side Down and consequently the name of our ministry; Faith Up-side Down came to fruition.

The Faith Upside Down Bible Study Series will help you to understand the truth of who you are in Christ and you will discover the powerful position you have, and your prayer life will take on new passion and power!

You can check out our new series at Pray Upside Down.

Posted by onthesolidrock, 0 comments
Lights Out

Lights Out

It was early in my pastoral career; I was serving two small community churches about 16 miles apart. I received a call from a woman at one of the churches. The woman told me that a friend of a friend, heard of a family in the community, whose mother was in critical condition at a local hospital; and would I go see her.


New to ministry, and wanting to be a good pastor, I said that I would go. I put on my pastor suit, grabbed my Bible and headed to the hospital. I was ill prepared for what I was about to encounter.


When I arrived to the hospital, I asked for the room number of the ailing mother. I approached the room with a great deal of anxiety; not knowing what to expect.


The door was open, so I gently entered the room, standing in the doorway. I saw about 8 people in the room, and an elderly woman in the hospital bed. She was on life support; a respirator was helping her breathe; I could tell she was not long for this world.


 When the family in the room turned to see who I was, they recognized I was a preacher; two of the teenage granddaughters, burst into tears and ran out of the room past me. The rest of the family just looked at me, not saying a word.


I began to stammer a bit, as I struggled for something to say. I told them that a friend of a friend of theirs had mentioned to a friend of mine, the situation regarding their mother and I thought I should come . . . awkward silence ensued!


As I stood there, in that tongue-tied, odd moment of indecision, the Lord took action; the power went out to the entire hospital! The room went dark for about 30 seconds; which seemed like an eternity.


The magnetic doors to all the rooms slammed shut; the poor woman on the ventilator began to choke and gasp for air, alarms were going off and the family in the room began to panic!


The whole power outage was short lived, but it created quite a stir; the nurses came bursting into the room, caring for the elderly woman; resetting the alarms and making sure she stabilized.


 When the pandemonium calmed down; I whispered, “Lord, You don’t ever have to do that again . . . I know what I need to do and why I am here.”


I went to the bedside of the woman and I took her hand. I could not tell if she could hear me or not; she never once opened her eyes. I told her that I was a pastor who came to pray for her. I began to tell her how much Jesus loved her, and that she needed to trust in Him right now.


I shared a little more about Jesus, and then I asked if she was trusting in Jesus right now; at that instant, she gripped my hand hard, an indication to me that she heard everything I was saying, and that she was indeed trusting in Him.


I told her that if Jesus comes to her soon, that it is all right to go to Him. I said a prayer for her, and then quietly left the room.


The next afternoon, Jesus came to receive her and she went quietly with Him.


The family, none of whom attended any church, called me to see if I would do the funeral for their mom, since I knew her. I graciously accepted the request with honor. I began the funeral service by telling the very same story, I just told you!


God helps us in our walk with Him, going to extraordinary steps, to getting our attention. He got mine that day, and reminded me that I am on a mission to let people know, sick or not, that He is near, He loves them, and wants them to follow Him . . . It is that simple!


Isaiah 61:1-3


 “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me,

Because the Lord has anointed Me

To preach good tidings to the poor;

He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,

To proclaim liberty to the captives,

And the opening of the prison to those who are bound;


To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord,

And the day of vengeance of our God;

To comfort all who mourn,


To console those who mourn in Zion,

To give them beauty for ashes,

The oil of joy for mourning,

The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness;

That they may be called trees of righteousness,

The planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.”










Posted by onthesolidrock in Faith, Family, Humility, Ministries, Trust, 0 comments
Crying in a Bucket – A Lesson in Humility

Crying in a Bucket – A Lesson in Humility

The year was 2000 and our church had just undertaken an amazing act of faith; we purchased an old school building. Built in 1924, it served as the High School in our community for many years. Later, it became a middle school; in the year 2000, the school placed it for sale, and by God’s provision; we bought it!


We began to renovate the building, a little at a time, but the task was daunting. As we went about the work of renovating the building, we also went about the work of renovating the hearts of people as well.


We developed a food ministry, and outreach center, along with a variety of ministries aimed at helping g the poor and disenfranchised.


Over the course of the next few years, we met dozens of wonderful people; many of whom came to a saving knowledge of Jesus. The folks we encountered were interesting, to say the least!


One of the folks I was privileged to know, was a gentleman named Brad. He was a tall, lanky man, about 65 years old at the time. He would frequent our center, stopping in several times each week.


Brad was a pleasant man; witty with a wry sense of humor. He was a chain smoker, and chose to live outside, under a bridge during the summer months. He would stop in my office and chat endlessly about everything!


I had a large comfortable, cloth chair, in my office that Brad’s thin, gangly frame would disappear into as he chatted. The chair would retain the “essence” of Brad, long after he left. It was during this time that I learned of the blessing of Febreeze air freshener spray!


As time progressed, I found myself cutting short some of my visits with Brad; not wanting my office overly saturated with the scent of stale cigarettes and campfire smoke.


Sometimes I would see him sauntering down the hall toward my office and I would quickly meet him in the hall; feigning some work project, I needed to get to!


One day, the phone rang in my office and it was one of the wealthiest people in our community. He previously owned a large manufacturing center in our area and was a multi-millionaire! The conversation went something like this . . .


“Hi Rock, this is **** and I would love to come and talk to you about your building, I have some great ideas that may interest you and your church, can I stop down next Tuesday morning and see you?” I was stunned and said, “I would love to meet.”


Over the weekend, my head was spinning. One of the wealthiest men in our community was coming to see me; I wondered what he wanted. I wondered if he would want to help us renovate; with one stroke of the pen, he could cover the entire cost of the project, with room to spare!


Monday came, and I looked at my office and realized how dirty it was. I figured I had better give it a good cleaning, since I was going have a very important meeting the next morning; a meeting that could alter the direction of our church renovation project immensely!


I got a bucket of warm soapy water, a scrub brush and a couple of rags. I got on my knees to wipe the dust off the baseboard. As I was scrubbing, I got the sensation the Lord was nearby.


I continued to scrub and I felt the Lord ask me a simple question; “Rock, what are you doing?” With a little excitement, I began to share that a very important man was stopping by the next day; perhaps he would help finance our project!


There was a moment of silence; I was waiting for some indication that God was listening; perhaps He would help persuade this wealthy man. As I waited for His response, I felt Him ask another question; it was a simple one, and it changed my life.


He asked; “So Rock, how is it that you would clean your office for this very wealthy man, but you never even swept it for Brad?” I was undone, busted if you will! Still on my knees, scrub brush in my hand, tears began to splash in the bucket.


I stopped cleaning, emptied my bucket, and spent most of the day repenting of my foolishness, reminded of the passage of scripture in Matthew . . .


 Matthew 25:34-40

“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’


God helped me to see that my motives were askew; revealing that I was more interested in financial support, than I was for the soul of kind old man.


A couple of years later, Brad moved from our area; he stopped to see me before he left. He brought me two antique oil lamps; a gift thanking me for spending time with him. Those lamps meant more to me than anything the other man could have ever done.


Oh, by the way, I did meet with the wealthy man; we had a pleasant, albeit short meeting. He wanted to turn our center into a museum . . . go figure!


God is great; I love Him so much! The lessons He teaches last a lifetime!

Posted by onthesolidrock in Discipline, Faith, Humility, Ministries, Trust, 0 comments
Dance with Me

Dance with Me

The following story I wrote for my true love, Sherri for Valentine’s Day, 2018.


Falling in love is easy, and can happen instantly, staying in love and living life together can be hard. A marriage is like a dance, It requires give and take, and yielding to each another.


This true life love story, is a heart-warming journey of one couple and the dance of life they began together.


Would they make it; or would they need an intervention from the Master Dancer?



Dance with Me


I dedicate this story to Sherri, the love of my life. She captured my heart many years ago, and I am still captivated by those inviting, mysterious eyes.


I have uncovered many treasures exploring the heart of this amazing girl; perhaps there are still undiscovered treasures; I will keep searching until I have them all!




A silver thread


It is January, and getting late in the evening; it is cold outside, four below zero, according to the weatherman. The wintry wind is gusting hard, and there is a chill in the house.


I glance across the living room and I see her, sitting sideways on the couch, feet stretched out, her favorite blanket snuggly tucked in around her.


As look over at her, I smile to myself; so glad she is warm on this cold night. As I walk past her, on my way to the kitchen, I see something unusual; a small silver strand, could it be? On my way back from the kitchen I walk closer to her, looking to see if my suspicions are true, and yes, there it is, a single silver thread, peeking out from her beautiful golden blond hair.


She notices my glance and quickly asks what I am looking at; “Oh, nothing” I say, as I head back to my seat, across from her, in our living room.


I dare not tell her what I found, or she would certainly be off to the hairdresser to vanquish that silver thread from the other recently highlighted strands. As I sit there, looking in her direction, she notices and asks what I am looking at; I just smile.


The silver thread causes my mind to drift back in time, the silver tint bringing memories of our first meeting; well at least the meeting that stands out to me. She recalls meeting me much earlier, and I vaguely recall it.


I do not dance!


I had just turned sixteen years old, recently getting my driver’s license and was out cruising. I decided to check out a school dance. As I went in to see what was going on, I recall a little blond-haired girl, all bubbly and chatty, bouncing over to me with some of her little friends; asking me to dance. I do not recall having ever seen her before, but as it turned out, she was best friends with my kid sister.


I looked at her and said quickly; “I do not dance;” thinking to myself, even if I did dance, I would not be dancing with a little twelve-year-old girl. I decided I had better get out of there, and off I went, never thinking again of the little blond-haired girl I had just met.


Little did I know that after I left the dance, she would go and tell all her friends that one day she was going to marry that boy she just asked to dance!


She recalls that meeting clearly, for me, it was a vague memory. Five years later, however, I would meet her again, a meeting that would change my world, and I will never forget it!


Who is that girl?


I had been away for nearly a year, living in the Pacific Northwest. I had returned home that winter, certain I would be heading back soon. I had been home for a few weeks and on one occasion, while stopping in to see my parents, there she was; the same little blond-haired girl that asked me to dance 5 years ago; wow . . . could this be the same girl?


She was still best friends with my kid sister and was down at my parent’s house visiting when I stopped in. My sister introduced me to her; reminding me that I had seen her before. If I ever did see her before, I never took much notice, but today, she had my full attention.


She was wearing blue jeans and a super soft, tight-fitting, long-sleeved turtleneck sweater; grayish silver in color, a perfect match to the silver strand I saw just peeking out from her golden hair a few moments ago in our living room.


She was all grown up now, she had all the right parts, in all the right places, and I took notice! I often joke with her, that I fell in lust with her that day, but truth be told, there was something much more intriguing to me than her perfect looks.


She makes my heart giggle


Our conversation was not very long that day, but as we chatted, I began to study what I was seeing, and I liked it . . . a lot!


She had a cute little thing she did with her glasses that made my heart giggle. She wore glasses that would occasionally slip down on her gently upturned nose; rather than constantly push them up with her finger, she would wrinkle her nose a little, and while doing that, her eyebrows and ears would lift a wee bit too; it was the cutest thing ever!


She still does it, and it is as cute today, as it was then.

It was not the glasses or the cute way she moved them with her nose that gripped me that day, nor was it her perfectly proportioned body; it was her eyes; gentle, olive green, with brown accents; tiny specks of gold dancing behind the lens of her glasses.


It is getting hot in here!


When I moved a little closer to her and she looked at me, I was startled; I felt flushed and could feel my face beginning to redden, so I moved off to the side of the room, pretending to look out the window, hoping she would not notice my reaction.


When I regained my composure, I wandered back over to her and we spoke some more; I needed to get another look at those eyes. There they were, captivating and mysterious. I could see that there was treasure hidden inside those eyes, there was an adventure in those eyes, and those eyes were calling me.


In that brief moment, time seemed to stop, those eyes were calling me to dance; not in the sense of being on a dance floor, but more like; “do the dance of life with me.” Her eyes were not asking me to dance; they were challenging me to dance; almost like, “I dare you, to dance the dance of life with me!”


Whoa! What was happening to me! Again, I felt flushed and I knew I needed to get some air. I made some lame excuse to leave, and jumped into my car and sped away, going for a long drive.


It was still winter, but I drove with the window down, trying to cool off, trying to shake the crazy feelings going through my being!


Was I falling in love?


A few weeks went by, and I still could not shake the feeling I had; was I in love? How can that be? Torn inside, all I could see were those eyes, calling me, beckoning me, and daring me.


Well, it turned out that my kid sister had a crush on my best friend, so it seemed like a good idea, to get together for a double date. Yes! I was so excited, I would get to spend a whole evening with this girl; I could not wait.


A day before the date, we got word that she could not go; her parents refused to allow it. Not wanting to ruin the weekend for my sister, another girl would take the place of her best friend on the date.


She was a cute little blond-haired girl, bubbly and full of herself. We all went out and tried to have fun, but my mind was in another place; all I could see were those eyes, those beautiful eyes, calling me.


I tried to be attentive to this other girl, but was distracted; to be honest, I could not wait for the night to be over. I am sure the little blonde-haired girl knew I was distracted too; the night finally ended and I laid awake, thinking of how I could get close to those eyes again.


It is time to meet her father


I got courage a couple of weeks later and decided to go to her house and take her for a ride. I recall knocking on the door of her home and her father answered the door.  I stood there and I said to her father; “Hi, I am here to see your daughter.”  It only took him a millisecond to say; “no you’re not” and he promptly shut the door in my face! Well, that did not go the way I thought it would!


I found out that she was a babysitter on the weekends, so I decided to stop in and “help” her. I would go week after week; then my car broke down, and then I would walk, run, or hitchhike the 6 miles to town just to see her. I had fallen deeply in love with this girl; I was in, lock, stock, and barrel; I wanted to dance!


Later that summer, I had a job offer; it would take me to Ohio. I needed work, and was having trouble finding a job in our hometown; I made the decision I would go to Ohio and take the job. I would be leaving in a couple of days.


Arrest warrant issued for kidnapping . . .


I asked her if she wanted to go too, and those eyes looked back at me and in a flash, said yes! I would pick her up at midnight; she came sneaking out of her house, with a pillow and some clothes; jumping into the car, we sped off into the night . . . is this what it means to dance?


We ran off to Ohio, soon to realize that her family was not happy about this; since I was 21 now and she was still only 17, there were warrants put out for my arrest; the charge was kidnapping! Her father was best friends with the county sheriff!


She was able to call home and told her father if he ever wanted to see her again, to get the charges dropped, which he did, and we proceeded to dance in Ohio.



Neither of us knew how to dance the dance of life, so we just went for it; creating our own dance moves; some of those moves were wild, crazy; even dangerous.


No constraints to hold us back, no idea of what the future looked like, we were dancing out of control but did not care, we were together, and that was all that mattered!


My mind comes back to the living room, I glance back over at her, still snuggled in her favorite blanket; a new pair of pink slippers, caressing her feet; a recent Christmas gift from our daughter; our firstborn child, and the memories return once again, and my mind drifts back . . .


We are going to have a baby!


Later that fall; still living in Ohio, I came home from work one afternoon, she looked at me, her eyes full of concern; she was pregnant; we were going to have a baby!


Oh no, what are we going to do? We decided it was best for us to head back to our hometown and I would find a new job. In May, we are going to have a baby!

I will never forget the week our daughter was born. It began Sunday evening; labor pains began in earnest, but a false alarm, no baby yet. The next day the pains would come again, even stronger now, still no baby.


I remember on the 27th, the pains were unbearable and she was struggling. She motions for me to come near and I bend down close to her; as she begins to have another contraction, she reaches up, grabbing my beard, pulling me close to those eyes and she says; “I hate you, I hate you.” 


I pull back a bit, her eyes are full of fear, unsure of what is next, she grabs my hand and pulls me in closer, and says; “I love you, I love you.”


Those beautiful eyes looking into mine and they say; “Is this dancing?”


On the 28th, we became proud parents of the most beautiful baby girl; and we continued to dance the dance of life together.


Time for a wedding


Not long after our daughter was born, we decided it was time to tie the knot, so we got married. I remember the excitement of that day. It came time for the wedding dance, and she stood on my feet; eyes sparkling, and she looked at me and said; “Dance!”


I laughed as we danced around and around, her feet on top of mine.


After the wedding, we jumped on my dad’s motorcycle; I did not have a license to drive one, but it did not matter. We had a small overnight bag strapped on the back of the motorcycle and we headed off to the movies, watching The Fox and the Hound on our wedding night!


Not many years after our wedding, we began to realize that our dancing was becoming harder to do. I was working away from home each week; she was raising our daughter alone and without much support.


It seemed that we were each dancing a different dance and our lives seemed to be drifting apart.


Her eyes were on fire!


I recall one night, coming home from work, and rather than heading straight home to be with my wife and daughter, I decided to stop at a nearby pub to unwind.


I recall hearing a loud noise, it was the front door of the pub slamming hard, everyone turned to see, and there she stood, holding our little daughter in her arms; those beautiful eyes that once dared me to dance, were now on fire!


Her words were sharp; “Your wife and your daughter would like to see you this weekend if that’s not too much to ask!”


She spun around, taking our daughter home; I felt like she just threw her dance shoes at me. I wondered; are we finished dancing? Is this the end?


We tried to change our lives, but it was so hard. We would have another child soon, a son and we did our best to keep dancing.


Our dance moves became confused; I still wanted to dance to all the fast songs, she wanted to dance the slow dance. We began to step on each other’s toes, and the dance of life was getting harder and harder to bear. We were growing weary and did not know what to do.


Back in my living room, emotions are welling up, as my mind takes me on the roller coaster ride, which was our life. She is still over there, and she looks over at me and asks if I am ok, I smile and say; “I’m fine.”


I noticed a new purple Bible in her hand, another recent gift. She has become a real student of that Book, and once again, the memories come in like a flood!


The Master Dancer


One hot summer night, we found ourselves in a new dance hall; a place we had never been to before, with people we barely knew.


As the last song was being played, I found myself at one side of the dance hall, and she at the other; both of us in tears, not knowing what the future would bring; we were both out of dance moves, perhaps this was, the last dance.


As the last song began to wind down, the Master Dancer brought both of us together. He looked into our eyes, and without saying a word, His eyes said it all; “Dance with Me.” It was there, in that hot, musty old dance hall, we said yes to the Master Dancer, and we asked Him to teach us how to dance.


We learned new dance moves


Since then, we have learned some new moves, we have learned how to let the other lead, we have learned when to slow dance and when to dance fast. The Master Choreographer has given us new dance steps; dance moves we never knew existed.


Not long after we met the Master Dancer, we found out that we were going to have another baby; something we did not expect! We would have another son, and what a blessing! Is this what it means to dance?


Oh, occasionally we have stepped on each other’s toes, but we have the best Coach, He is always there to help us when we falter. We have learned to love the Master; He has taught us so much about life, about ourselves, and about Him.


Over the years, we have danced in front of hundreds of people. The Master called us to lead by example, showing others how to dance the dance of life.


The Master has allowed us to dance in many places; we have danced in Canada, Norway and we have danced all the way to the Pacific Ocean and back. We have danced in the Caribbean Ocean, in Puerto Rico, and a hundred places in between.


I am a blessed man!


Back in my living room, as I look over at that beautiful person across from me, I truly begin to understand how blessed I am. I have been dancing with this girl for nearly 40 years, and I plan to finish the dance of life with her. She is my lover, my confidant, and my best friend.


Someone once said, that falling in love is not a choice; but staying in love is; those words are true. When I walked past that 17-year-old girl in my parents’ house that winter afternoon, and I saw those eyes looking at me; calling to me; I fell in love; smitten if you will! No dating necessary, no long courtship needed, I was in love.


To stay in love required more than I was capable of giving, my own shortcomings got in the way, my own wants, my own desires, began pushing out hers, and this would become a great problem.


I am forever grateful for the intervention of the Master Dancer in our lives; He rescued us in so many ways.


To the dear blond-haired girl, with the captivating eyes, I just want you to know how very much I love you. You mean the world to me; thank you for dancing with me for all these years. I cannot wait to see what new moves the Master Dancer has in store for us; whatever they are, dancing with you, will always be a joy.


To those who have been listening in . . .


To my children, grandchildren, or anyone else, who may have a chance to read this love story, I encourage you; do not be afraid to dance.


If you choose to live your life as a single person, make sure your dance partner is the Master Dancer. Life with Him will NEVER be dull, boring, or unfulfilled, learn His steps, and do the dance with Him; your life will have meaning, substance and great joy.


A single person can live a life unfettered by the demands of raising a family and can do amazing things with the Master.


If on the other hand, you wish to fall in love, as we did, let me warn you, it is risky business. Look into those eyes if you dare, and if it is the right person, you will know. Open your heart to them, keep nothing back, and keep pressing in.


A married life is not easy, it requires that you submit to one another, it requires a yielding of your lives to each other; this can be very difficult; you will need much help.


Be sure that the Master Dancer is a part of your lives. Learn from Him, trust Him, and let Him lead. If you do this, your life together will one of tremendous joy full of many great rewards.


Life is risky, after all, none of us get out of this life alive; however, with the Master Dancer, the dancing does not stop when this life ends; it continues and with much more fervor and energy!


So . . . are going to just sit there, or are you going to dance? The music is playing, it’s time to put your dancing shoes on . . . Go!


What the Master Dancer says about Marriage


Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body. But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything.


Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless.


So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself; for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church, because we are members of His body.


For this reason, a man shall leave his father and mother and shall be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. This mystery is great, but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church.  Nevertheless, each individual among you also is to love his own wife even as himself, and the wife must see to it that she respects her husband.





Posted by onthesolidrock in Faith, Family, Ministries, Trust, 0 comments
Holier than Thou

Holier than Thou

Early in my pastoral career, I felt I had a corner on what it meant to be a Christian. My views were set, or so I thought! As an evangelical Christian, I always found it difficult to listen to opposing views; perhaps more accurately, different views, and I would do my best, to keep “my people” away from those who saw Christianity through a different lens than mine.


Annually, in our small rural community, through the season of Lent, area churches would come together in a show of Christian unity and share pulpits.


We would invite guest speakers from the local ministerial association to speak in our home churches each week, as the Lenten season progressed.


It was great; a Baptist preacher would share the message at the Catholic Church one week, then a Pentecostal preacher would share a message in the Baptist church the next week. The Christian community traveled to different churches, meeting new friends and sharing times of fellowship following the services.


Some of the more evangelical pastors were skeptical of having a “non-evangelical” pastor preach in their church, so they would quietly ask evangelical pastors if they would speak in their church the week the community came to their place of worship. I was one of those pastors.


On one particular week of the Lenten services, a “non-evangelical” pastor, known for occasionally shooting down claims made by the more evangelical pastors, would soon preach at one of the churches.


As the week for him to speak approached, I purposefully “forgot” to announce the location of that week’s Lenten meeting; secretly hoping many of my people would “forget” too.


The night of the Lenten service arrived, and I felt obligated to go to the service. I went prepared for a message that would be high and lofty, with very little, if any mention of Jesus Name; I was not disappointed.


I found myself analyzing every word; glad in my heart that few of “my” people attended!


Following his message, a fellowship gathering in an adjacent room, separated by a narrow hallway was getting underway. As people began to make their way to the fellowship gathering, I decided I would join them for a moment and headed in that direction.


As I moved into the narrowing hallway, and kindly old woman, with a crown of white hair, came toward me, gently grabbing my arms, pulling me in. She looked at me, her eyes looking larger than life, through glasses with thick lens, fogged up as tears streamed down her cheeks.


As she drew me in, she said to me; “Pastor Rock, was that not the most moving message you ever heard?”


I was speechless; I mean . . . I had nothing, not a word! The best I could do was gently form a smile; she smiled too, then released her grip and ambled down the hallway.


I stood motionless for a moment, stunned by her words, and I distinctly heard the voice of God; “Rock, you missed it; you missed Me, I was there, where were you?”


I focused entirely on my own narrow view and my own self-righteousness; so much so, that I never noticed God’s Holy Spirit moving in that place. I Left quietly and went out to my car and sat there sobbing, sorry for my ignorance and pride.


God taught me, one of the most valuable lessons I ever learned, and that is He has far more grace than I ever will have.


He taught me that I do not have a corner on Christianity; others have a place at the table too. I have heard it said; “someone does not have to be wrong, for me to be right.”


A Scripture in the Gospel of Mark reveals an important truth . . .


Mark 9:38-41

 “Teacher,” said John, “we saw someone driving out demons in your name and we told him to stop, because he was not one of us.”

“Do not stop him,” Jesus said. “For no one who does a miracle in my name can in the next moment say anything bad about me, for whoever is not against us is for us. Truly I tell you, anyone who gives you a cup of water in my name because you belong to the Messiah will certainly not lose their reward.


I think the point Jesus was making to John was a simple one; just because they do not belong to your group, does not mean they do not belong to Me.


I have seen Jesus work miracles in ways I never dreamed of and He uses people that I never would! His grace is indeed great, and I for one am very glad; He even has space for someone like me!


Posted by onthesolidrock in Faith, Holiness, Humility, Ministries, 0 comments
A Sheep not a Lamb

A Sheep not a Lamb

I have to admit, I am a sucker for old poetry, Today as I was looking over my collection I ran across this one and felt compelled to share! Enjoy!


Lost Sheep


‘Twas a sheep not a lamb that strayed away

In the parable Jesus told,

A grown up sheep that had gone astray

From the ninety and nine in the fold.



Out on the hillside, out in the cold,

‘Twas a sheep the Good Shepherd sought

And back to the flock, safe into the fold

‘Twas a sheep the Good Shepherd brought.



And why for the sheep should we earnestly long

And as earnestly hope and pray?

Because there is danger if they go wrong

They will lead the lambs astray.



For the lambs will follow the sheep, you know,

Wherever the sheep may stray

When the sheep go wrong it will not be long

Til the lambs are as wrong as they.



And so with the sheep we earnestly plead

For the sake of the lambs today

If the lambs are lost, what terrible cost

Some sheep will have to pay!


Posted by onthesolidrock in Faith, Family, Ministries, Trust, 0 comments
Take up Your Cross

Take up Your Cross

Our first church assignment came; it was a beautiful red brick structure, interlaced with sandstone from a nearby rock quarry. The church windows made of stained glass added to the sacred atmosphere.


The church had a working bell; rung by pulling on a long rope; the children would take turns tugging on the rope until the bell began to resound; reminding the neighborhood that church would begin soon.


When you came inside the church, you noticed the bright red carpet blanketing the floor; blonde oak church pews filling the sanctuary, and soft yellow walls beckoning you in. In the front of the sanctuary stood a large oak pulpit on a raised platform overlooking the congregation, and on the wall behind the pulpit, a beautiful wooden cross. 


The cross, fashioned of solid golden oak, stood four feet tall with the cross piece about three feet across. The wood beams, at least four inches thick, had a soft smooth beautiful shiny finish, very pleasant to look at, a reminder of the Cross of Christ. A person could not come into the church without noticing the cross.


As the Easter season approached, I preached a message on the cross of Christ.  As I studied for that message, I realized that the beautiful shiny, pleasant looking cross on the wall, wasn’t even close to the cross that Jesus suffered and died on.


I began to think about it, and I felt deep in my heart that I needed to fashion a real cross of life-sized proportions; a cross you could actually crucify someone on, to show the people what a cruel instrument it really was.


I would go and cut down a tree and make a cross


I got an ax, and I jumped in my pickup truck, driving into the mountains of Northwest Pennsylvania. I walked into the forest looking for the right tree; a tree you could build a cross from; strong enough to crucify someone. I wanted to cut a tree that was dead.


I did not want to take down a live tree, I needed something sturdy, something solid, and as I walked around the forest, I saw it; an old weathered maple tree that would work very well for a cross.


I stood there looking at the tree, and I took my ax, taking a hard swing at the ten-inch base of the tree. The weathered hard maple tree was not going to come down easy.


As I continued to slice into the base of the tree with my ax, my mind began to think of Jesus and the Cross He carried. Each time I swung and struck the base of that tree, I recalled an ugly sin in my own life; a sin His death atoned for.


I kept striking the tree; each strike bringing forward more pain; more remembrances of all the sins that I had committed. Tears began to flow down my face, as I thought of what Jesus did on the cross for me.


Not only, was it for the sins of the whole world He died, but it was for my sins, the ones I committed, and as I continued to chop, the tears flowed. The tree finally fell down with a loud crash, I went over and sat by the tree and I wept as I thought of what Jesus did.


I stepped off about twelve feet for the upright post; taking the ax once again, cutting off the cross beam making it eight feet long. I stood up the twelve-foot post, placing it on my shoulder, and I started carrying it out through the woods; once again, the tears came like a flood.


Bringing the cross to the church


I remembered Jesus trying to carry his cross, battered and beaten, blood running down his face, as he tried to carry it. I went back picking up the eight-foot cross piece bringing it back to my truck.


When I got back to the church, I unloaded the two pieces, and before taking them inside, I notched the upright post and the crossbeam, so they would lock together. I took them inside the beautiful, stately sanctuary and carefully lashed the two pieces together with 30 feet of half-inch rope. Once secured, I groaned as I stood the cross upright in the sanctuary.


I firmly secured the base of the cross, to the platform at the front of the sanctuary, walked back and sat down. The cross was large and rough, not at all like the pretty, shiny one behind the pulpit. It was evident, this cross, was a true representation of the instrument used to kill our Savior; once again, the tears came.


Finally, I found an old hammer, along with three ten inch spikes and I hung them on the side of the cross. I fashioned a wooden sign that read “King of the Jews,” and I placed it at the top.


Over the years, people would come from miles around to gaze at the cross. Some would come just to sit in front of it; most would begin to sob.


We even had people drive hours to come, asking if they could spend the night in the church, sleeping at the foot of the cross.


The Bible says it best . . .


“For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.”              

1 Corinthians 1:18 (NKJV)






Posted by onthesolidrock in Faith, Humility, Ministries, Trust, 0 comments
Jesus Counts

Jesus Counts

While serving as pastor of a small church my wife Sherri, did far more than anyone would ever know. The pastor’s wife is often the unsung hero of any ministry endeavor! One of the many tasks Sherri took on was to record the attendance of the various meeting we would be holding.


Sherri would often get volunteers to count the folks who attended Sunday morning services; but when those volunteers were unable, she would do the count.


We held a mid-week Bible study too; Sherri also attended, and at the end of the week, she would let me know how many had come.


One particular week, I saw a discrepancy in the numbers she gave me. I remembered clearly that seven people attended; five others, Sherri, and myself yet she marked down eight. I went over it again and counted only seven.


I mentioned to her that I thought the count was off a little and I shared with her the names of those who attended. She looked quizzically at me and said; “you forgot one.” No, I am sure seven, were there that night. She looked at me again and said a little indignantly; “how can you forget the most important person.”


Did you forget Jesus?


I finally blurted out . . . “Who am I missing!” She looked at me and said; “Jesus was there, and He counts.” She went on to say that every time she takes attendance, she always counts Jesus, because He is always there, and He matters.


As I pondered her reasoning, I began to realize that many times we have had meetings and never acknowledged Jesus was there; and I started to wonder how many times He did not come, for that very reason!


Since then, I have made it a point, to always acknowledge that Jesus is present, and to never just assume that He is. I try not to talk about Him as if He were in another room, but rather as a distinguished guest. I do not always get this right, but I do make a concerted effort to remember His significance and to not just assume He is there.


Yes . . . Jesus counts; are you including Him on your rolls?





Posted by onthesolidrock in Faith, Humor, Ministries, Trust, 0 comments
The Sandbox

The Sandbox

I was sitting outside recently looking at the landscape of our small yard and I noticed a slight depression near the edge bordering the alleyway. My mind drifted back 4 years ago, when in that very spot, there used to be a sandbox, and I recalled how the story of the sandbox unfolded.


I had built our youngest son a sandbox, so he could enjoy the fun of building and dozing in the dirt; something every little boy loves to do. During the summer months, he and neighborhood friends, day after day would occupy the sandbox.


As the years went by and our son grew older, the sandbox received less and less attention and began to fill up with weeds, and the fancy digging toys, now rusted tight, had lost their luster.


That year our youngest son Luke, spent most of his time riding bikes with friends, playing basketball down the street, and really did not spend too much time in the sandbox. I considered pulling out the sandbox, filling it in with topsoil, and planting grass.


As I contemplated the fate of the forgotten sandbox, memories of my own childhood flashed across my mind. I could remember hours playing in the dirt, the fun I had with the neighborhood children.


I remember walking into our house, gathering scornful looks from my mother, as I left a trail of dirt on my way to the kitchen sink to clean up.


What was to become of the old sandbox.


I asked my son one day what he thought about the idea of filling in the sandbox, and he seemed a little indifferent about it; as if it was not terribly important to him either.


Over the next few weeks, I gathered up some of the older toys, sending them off to the trash heap, never to be used again. I must admit I had twinges of guilt as I did it.


School let out for summer vacation, and one day I noticed my son, and a couple of his friends, ages 10 to 14, digging in the sandbox … and I mean digging! Over the course of the next 3 weeks, we had as many as 10 neighborhood boys, coming to dig in the sandbox; they were coming with shovels!


The sandbox measured about 12’ x 10’ and they had dug a hole in the sandbox that was about 5’ in diameter and about 4’ deep.


Soon, the neighborhood moms and dads were coming to our yard to gaze at the sight; at least a half-dozen boys or more, with shovels digging away, no set purpose, just digging.


Well, I was astonished and amazed. I asked the kids what they planned to do with this incredible “hole.” It did not seem right to fill it in, but what could they do with it. They thought of all kinds of things from a swimming pool to a well.


After several weeks of intense cogitating about what to do with the hole; to my amazement when I came home from the office one day, I saw that the kids had filled in the hole, and was starting another project in the sandbox.


This time they created incredible miniature cities, with lakes, roads, parks, stores; their imaginations were running wild. Kids were coming to the sandbox with dozens and dozens of matchbox cars, boats, and all kinds of “things.”


Night after night, the kids were filling our yard, and as daylight turned to darkness, they began planning the newest addition to continue the next morning. Amazing!


Important lessons about life were being learned in the sandbox.


The kids were learning incredible lessons at the sandbox, lessons like; cooperation, sharing, vision casting, honing leadership skills, teamwork, and so much more!


After watching this incredible display of innovation and leadership coming from kids, 10 to 14 years old, I wondered; what would happen if the church could catch this determination.


You see, the kids had one objective; “dig dirt.” What it looks like, how it happens, is not important; what is important, is dirt digging!


As long as “digging dirt” is the main objective, then everyone is happy. The minute one of the boys sees his corner of the sandbox becoming more important than someone else’s corner, the whole project gets bogged down; dirt digging comes to a sudden stop.


Only when there is a resolution to the favoritism, or if the pet project is relinquished, can the real work of “digging dirt” begin again.


I wonder if the church could learn these lessons too.


How many times do we forget that our primary focus in the church is to reach lost people with the Good News of Jesus Christ? As long as we stay focused on “Knowing God, and Making Him Known” then we can get much done.


We tend to bog down when we think that our particular ministry, or service project, is the best, or the most important. Our feelings get hurt when someone else’s idea eclipses our own; we take offense and go sit down in the corner, and the work slows down, joy ceases, and very little “dirt digging” takes place!


Sometimes we simply need to come to our senses and fill in the hole and start over! Then digging dirt becomes the primary focus again.


Works for the kids; maybe it will work for the church too. I for one want to spend more time digging dirt than slinging it.


Jesus said that we should be about the Father’s business, and what is that? It is reaching God’s cherished missing with the Good News that Jesus is Lord!


Grab a shovel and let’s get digging!


Posted by onthesolidrock in Faith, Family, Ministries, Trust, 0 comments
A Plea for Fishing

A Plea for Fishing

Now it came to pass that a group existed who called themselves fishermen. And lo, there were many fish in the waters all around. In fact, the whole area was surrounded by streams and lakes filled with fish. And the fish were hungry.


Week after week, month after month, and year after year, those who called themselves fishermen met in meetings and talked about their call to fish, the abundance of fish, and how they might go about fishing.


Year after year they carefully defined what fishing means, defended fishing as an occupation, and declared that fishing is always to be a primary task of fishermen.


Continually, they searched for new and better methods of fishing and for new and better definitions of fishing. Further, they said, “The fishing industry exists by fishing as fire exists by burning.


They loved slogans such as “Fishing is the task of every fisherman.” They sponsored special meetings called “Fishermen’s Campaigns” and “The Month for Fishermen to Fish.” They sponsored costly nationwide and worldwide congresses to discuss fishing and to promote fishing and hear about all the ways of fishing such as the new fishing equipment, and whether any new bait had been discovered.


These fishermen built large, beautiful buildings called “Fishing Headquarters.” The plea was that everyone should be a fisherman and every fisherman should fish. One thing they didn’t do, however: They didn’t fish.


In addition to meeting regularly, they organized a board to send out fishermen to other places where there were many fish. The board hired staffs and appointed committees and held many meetings to define fishing, to defend fishing, and to decide what new streams should be thought about.


But the staff and committee members did not fish.


Large, elaborate, and expensive training centers were built whose original and primary purpose was to teach fishermen how to fish. Over the years courses were offered on the needs of fish, the nature of fish, where to find fish, the psychological reactions of fish, and how to approach and feed fish.


Those who taught had doctorates in fishology, but the teachers did not fish. They only taught fishing. Year after year, after tedious training, many were graduated and were given fishing licenses. They were sent to do full-time fishing, some to distant waters which were filled with fish.


Many who felt the call to be fishermen responded. They were commissioned and sent to fish. But like the fishermen back home, they never fished. Like the fishermen back home, they engaged in all kinds of other occupations. They built power plants to pump water for fish and tractors to plow new waterways. They made all kinds of equipment to travel here and there to look at fish hatcheries.


Some also said that they wanted to be part of the fishing party, but they felt called to furnish fishing equipment. Others felt their job was to relate to the fish in a good way so the fish would know the difference between good and bad fishermen. Others felt that simply letting the fish know they were nice, land-loving neighbors and how loving and kind they were was enough.


After one stirring meeting on “The Necessity for Fishing,” one young fellow left the meeting and went fishing. The next day he reported that he had caught two outstanding fish.


He was honored for his excellent catch and scheduled to visit all the big meetings possible, to tell how he did it. So he quit his fishing in order to have time to tell about the experience to the other fishermen. He was also placed on the Fishermen’s General Board as a person having considerable experience.


Now it’s true that many of the fishermen sacrificed and put up with all kinds of difficulties. Some lived near the water and bore the smell of dead fish every day. They received the ridicule of some who made fun of their fishermen’s clubs and the fact that they claimed to be fishermen yet never fished. They wondered about those who felt it was of little use to attend the weekly meetings to talk about fishing. After all, were they not following the Master who said, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men”


Imagine how hurt some were when one day a person suggested that those who don’t catch fish were really not fishermen, no matter how much they claimed to be. Yet it did sound correct.


Is a person a fisherman if, year after year, he never catches a fish” Is one following if he isn’t fishing?

Posted by onthesolidrock in Ministries, 0 comments