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December 7

Thursday, December 7th, 2023

One of my favorite short stories of all that generally is read, seen, or heard during the Christmas season (besides the real story of the birth of Jesus), is the one written by O’Henry called The Gift of the Magi.ย  It would be hard for me to find or believe there being someone who has not read or heard of this story, but just in case…

I understand that O’Henry’s personal life was in turmoil at the time of writing this story, which makes this story even more incredible. He tells the story of a young couple (Jim & Della) who are deeply in love but dirt poor. It is Christmas time and they each wanted to get the other a gift. To summarize: when it comes time for them to give each other their gift, Jim gives Della combs for her beautiful, long hair, and Della gives Jim a beautiful gold chain for his pocket watch. The beauty of the story is that Della cut her hair and sold it to buy the chain: Jim sold his watch to buy the combs. The ending of the story says, “Of all who give and receive gifts, these two were the most wise.”

The story has one overarching lesson (among many): sacrifice for another is the greatest gift of all. Speaking from a 2023 viewpoint, can you imagine the love they had for each other to 1) take a most prized possession (hair and watch) and sell it for 2) the ultimate gift of sacrifice to one you love? After Della hands Jim the chain which she is so proud of buying, he tells her about selling his watch to by her combs and then tells here, “We should put our gifts away and have our meal.” O’Henry’s point can’t be missed: is there any greater gift than sacrificing for another?

Need I make the point? Jesus. Cross. Sacrifice. Giving up His life for those whom He loved and loves.

We are wise (magi) if we follow His example.

November 22

Wednesday, November 22nd, 2023

Throughout the month of November, I have been encouraging the people of the church I pastor to take time to be truly thankful. Since tomorrow is Thanksgiving Day and I will not be posting until Monday (unless I get a wild hair to do so), I thought I would do what I have encouraged them to do and write down some things I am grateful for. This list is by no means exhaustive. It is a starting point, maybe a guide for you as well.

*For the God who loved me and continues to love me; sent His Son to die for me; gave His Spirit to live in me; promised the return of His Son; and for all He has given me, I give the highest praise of all. Words fail to adequately express my gratitude.

*For my wife of 50+ years who has stuck with me through all kinds of stuff. I don’t deserve her.Thank you for doing life with me.

*For my two adult daughters who call me “Dad,” the loftiest word in the English language. They continually bless my life with their love and presence.

*For Braden, my one and only grandson, who is forging his way in life, in sports, and in the world. May he always know how proud Grandpa is of him (even though as a 17 year old he now finds other things more important than sitting on Grandpa’s lap and watching Transformers movies). ๐Ÿ™‚

*For the church family called Owen Valley Christian Fellowship (OVCF) I am honored to pastor. I started my 19th year this past Sunday. To say how truly blessed and grateful I am to be their pastor cannot be expressed. I pray the Gospel is preached; Jesus is Honored; Grace is offered; Lives are Changed; and Obedience is Encouraged. I truly hope that those who find their way to OVCF can say, “I’m home.”

*For you who read “Shadow.” Thanks. Blogging is not what it used to be in popularity or influence. Life changes. But each day I journal during my Encounter Time at my kitchen table before anyone stirs (maybe even the mice if there are any). ๐Ÿ™‚ As I journal, I write my thoughts and musings which become my daily posts here at “Shadow.” Each day you get to read my heart and mind. How scary is that? ๐Ÿ™‚ I do hope these devotions spark a desire in you to know Jesus deeper, and to face life in His strength. Selfishly, I wish more would read, but I’m thankful to you for reading. And, of course, it is all up to Him as to what happens with “Shadow.”

Have a grateful Thanksgiving my friends. May you truly find much to be grateful for.

November 16

Monday, November 13th, 2023

We all have a story. We all have a past. We all have a present. We all will have a future (although as Doc Brown says in Back to the Future: “Our future hasn’t been written yet.” Doc Brown is right, and he is also wrong.ย  We don’t know what the future holds. God does. He has written our future. What that all means is a discussion for another day).

I repeat: we all have a story. I’ve been reading each morning from a book entitled Limping with God by Chad Bird. It is a book solely committed to tell the life of Jacob. Jacob’s name means “supplanter, deceiver” and it seems his whole life was one big story on that idea. Many incidences in his life stand out, which would require far more space than I am able to give right now, but two stand out head and shoulders above the others. One was in Genesis 28 where Jacob dreamed of a stairway to heaven (yeah…don’t go there.ย  ๐Ÿ™‚ ). The other is in Genesis 32 as he goes to meet Esau and wrestles with God and comes away with a limp.

There is much to learn from diving into that story, but one I read this morning stuck. Mr. Bird writes, “Jacob limped into the future bearing the burdens of his past-burdens that were lightened by the memory of the God who christened him with a new name.” (p. 174).ย  BTW: that new name was Jacob to Israel.

We all carry scars of our past. Jacob’s (Israel’s) was a limp where his fellow wrestler (God) touched him on his hip because Jacob said he would not let him go unless he blessed him. Thus, the limp.

I have discussed this before: anyone who think becoming a follower of Jesus releases us from a tough time in life is whacked. No where, NO WHERE, does God promise us an easy road. Quite the contrary, what He does promise is that our present and future might be a life of pain from our skirmishes and scars, but one in which we are never left alone.

November 9

Thursday, November 9th, 2023

I don’t know about you but there are times (more than I care to admit) where I feel like I’m losing more than I’m winning. I lose my patience more than I should. I show a lack of faith in God’s ability to work things out (without my help even!). I squirm and get impatient because God isn’t working as fast as I think He should (His timing and mine are way off). I fall to temptation again instead of standing firm (I can do it on my own I say or think).

I was reminded of my failure to win on my own as I read Revelation 17-18 this morning. Revelation 17 sets the stage with talk of a woman sitting on a scarlet beast with blasphemous names on it. Skipping a few verses we come to verse 14: “They will make war on the Lamb, and the Lamb will conquer them, for He is Lord of lords and King of kings, and those with him are called and chosen and faithful.” (ESV).

Then in chapter 18:2 it says, “Fallen, fallen in Babylon the great!” Reading ahead to verse 18 it says, “Therefore, these plagues will overtake her in a single day-death and mourning and famine. She will be completely consumed by fire, for the Lord God who judges her is mighty.” (NLT)

Putting aside who this is referring to (not part of this devo), notice both speak of victory for God’s side. God’s people. God’s army. Call it what you like…God’s people-those who follow Him-will win. We will win because He has won and will win in the future.

Judgment will come to the enemies of God. They can shake their fist at Him and challenge Him. They will lose. Attack Him or His people (I’m not speaking of physical warfare). They will lose. God and His people will ultimately be victorious. They can have their protests against Him. They can have their protests against His truth. Denigrate His Name and strike out against His people. They can have their “fun” now.

They will lose in the end. GUARANTEED.


Friday, October 13th, 2023


Perhaps you have heard the story of the 6 year old boy who was drawing a unique picture rather furiously. The adult who saw it asked him what he was doing. Tommy answered, “I’m drawing a picture of God.” The adult said, “But no one know what God looks like.” To which Tommy said, “They will when I’m done.”ย  ๐Ÿ™‚

With this sermon bringing my part of this series to a close (Pastor Ryan is preaching next week), we have spent almost two months looking at the God we worship. In no way have we exhausted what we can know, but what we have seen is that He is not a God who is unreachable, unknowable, or untouchable. He is very much a God who is alive and interested in every detail of our lives. He is a God we can K.N.O.W.ย  As you can guess, I have taken the word K.N.O.W. and made an acrostic out of it using Psalm 18 as the catalyst Scripture to paint a picture of God, which I hope will stick with us even though I am bringing this series to a close.

I won’t keep you in suspense as to what the K.N.O.W. stands for though:





The dominant theme of Psalm 18 is that God is our Rock! He is our shelter and our refuge.ย  He is the “Rock of Ages” as August Toplady once wrote and we sang about. Please join us in person at 9:00 and 10:45 or via live stream.


October 12

Thursday, October 12th, 2023

We jokingly talk about, how as a person gets older, forgetting seems to be part of the equation. As we age, our memories aren’t as good. We don’t remember names and faces like we used to. Memorizing sentences, speeches, verses, directions (you name it), just doesn’t go as smoothly as it used to…if at all.ย  I used to never forget a name and a face. Now I’m good enough to remember my own name, and the face staring back at me in the mirror doesn’t look like I remembered. ๐Ÿ™‚ย  I also used to memorize my sermons and then graduated to a very minimal outline. COVID and age changed that!

I’m sure we have all heard of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery. The original bill establishing the Tomb was in 1921 in remembrance of the unknown soldiers who fought in WWI and were buried on the battlefield, often where they fell.ย  In 1956 President Eisenhower signed a bill to pay tribute to soldiers who died from WWII and the Korean War.ย  The tombstone reads, “Here rests in honored glory an American soldier known but to God.” That tomb has remained guarded at all times, in all kinds of weather 24/7/365 since 1937. On April 6, 1948 the Third US Infantry Regiment took over the task of guarding the Tomb.

In Psalm 78, the psalmist is reminding the people of Israel of all God has done for them and that they must not forget. He recounts the goodness of God because, as we all know, it is easy to forget. I realize Thanksgiving is still over a month away, but why not start now remembering all of God’s goodness to you/me over the year?

In fact, why did you/I ever stop?


Jo, Tami, and I are leaving this morning for a quick trip to Ohio to see our family. We will be returning on Saturday. Prayers for our safety would be appreciated. I will respond to comments as I have time (and Wifi). Have a great weekend.

October 10

Tuesday, October 10th, 2023

I had a good day yesterday…my birthday. I did absolutely nothing. That’s good and bad. While I worked in the office early and had a staff meeting that lasted all morning due to various reasons, I was unable to go to the Y or for a ride.ย  ๐Ÿ™ย  However, I had lunch with Jo and Tami (our adult daughter who is on Fall Break from teaching K kids…thanks Tami), then drove to Terre Haute to pick up my Pathfinder. It had been in the shop since last Thursday. That’s when the fun began.

I did absolutely nothing. Unless you count reading, laughing and eating ice cream nothing.ย  I call it doing what I like to do when I don’t have anything else to do or want to do! ๐Ÿ™‚

Honestly? I needed it. After a very busy weekend (I had a wedding rehearsal and ceremony), preaching twice in the morning, and small group I needed a slow day. Plus my schedule in 2023 has been full and hectic. Time away is needed by me and Jo, but such is our life right now and the holidays coming, that it isn’t going to happen. I do have several outletsย  (biking and the Y), but sometimes one needs more. Sometimes time away is essential.ย  We are hoping 2024 works out for us.

What started me thinking of this (besides my own fatigue and realization)? I read a quote by former MLB player, Andrelton Simmons: “Most people carry scars that others can’t see or understand.”ย  He walked away from baseball in 2020 due to mental health issues.

Several thoughts went through my mind when I read about him. First, we are sometimes very good covering up the real “me.” “Never let ’em see you sweat” is the saying that goes through my head. To let someone see who you really are is often seen as a sign of weakness to admit we even have a struggle. NO. NO it’s not! It is a sign of strength to admit it.

Second, no one dare criticize another who is going through a crisis. I need to constantly remind myself that “there but by the grace of God go I.” That could have been me. He is right. We all have scars. I know I do. And I need to remember to do as Joe Simon once sang about: “Walk a mile in my shoes.” Truthfully, we all need to walk a mile in someone’s moccasins before we dismiss or criticize them.

Jesus empathized with us. Hebrews 5:15 says, “For we do not have a High Priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.” He knows. He understands. He stands with us. Next to us. Holding us up. Giving us His strength.

Don’t hide. Don’t pretend all is okay. Get help. Be honest. You are not alone.

October 9

Monday, October 9th, 2023

Today is a milestone day. Today is year #71. I have no desire to talk about my history, my life. In reality, all lives are the same with a few exceptions. We are born. We live. We die.ย  We spend eternity in heaven or hell based on one decision: What did you do with Jesus?

Instead, I want to reminisce another way. Here goes:


Abandon me.

Give up on.

Quit on me.

Fail me.

Say good-bye to me.









A Refuge.



In Control.

That’s a quick list. I’m absolutely positive I could and would add more given time. I’m open to you adding to my list. What would you add?

And, oh yeah…Happy Birthday to me! ๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ™‚


Friday, October 6th, 2023


First, a confession. “Good Good Father” is one of my favorites.ย  “You’re a good good Father that’s who you are/And I’m love by You, that’s who I am, that’s who I am.”

All of us have different experiences with our dads. But what unites us is the need that’s woven into our souls-the need to be loved, and treasured, and noticed, and accepted by our fathers. No matter how much we try to defiantly deny it, we all need our father’s approval. It is the same with God. We want and need our Father’s approval, our Father’s blessing.

The Bible is filled with references to God as our Father. Deuteronomy 32:6. Psalm 103:13. Mark 14:36. Romans 8:15. Galatians 4:6 (the last three refer to calling Him “Abba”).ย  This Sunday I’m going to expound further on this idea of God as our Father.ย  Surprisingly, even though I thought this would be an “easy” sermon to prepare, it has actually been the most difficult one of this series. God is our Perfect Father.

Please join us in person or via live stream at 9:00 and 10:45.ย  I would be honored if you would do so and thank you for your presence.


October 2

Monday, October 2nd, 2023

If there is one thing I know for sure, it is the fact that there are many, many people today who are missing one key ingredient in their life: peace. I recently finished a two month sermon series focused on anxiety, worry, and fear.

I cannot begin to tell you how many people asked me to pray for them because of one of those three emotions. Those who seem to have it the most “together,” who give off the air that “I’m cool and all is okay,” those who exude confidence, were some of whom came to me and asked me to pray for them.

You see… anxiety, worry, and fear show no favorites. Young. Old. Well-to-do. Struggling financially. White. Black. Hispanic. Male. Female. No respecter of persons.

There are some great examples in the Bible of people who found a calm and a peace in spite of circumstances.

Three Hebrew boys- Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego- were faced with a furnace made 7 times hotter because the king was so ticked off they would not bow down and worship the king’s idol. They refused and even the king stood in amazement as a 4th figure appeared in the furnace and they were removed unscathed.

Daniel spent the night in a lion’s den. Hungry lions, who the next morning had a great meal of Daniel’s antagonists, never bothered him. He got some good z-z-z-z-z-s that night.

Even Job, who lost everything, except his relationship with God, refused to curse God and die (per his wife’s suggestion). Job kept his eyes on God.

All three of these example are just snippets of people who trusted in spite of circumstances. They exuded a peace we are often missing in our “know everything” age. Sadly, the one thing many don’t know, is how to find peace.

I do. It is found in the One who said, “My peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you. Don’t let your heart be troubled.”