Impact and Influence are two very powerful words. Everyone has impacted or influenced someone. We may not want to admit or realize that we have had an influence on another person, but we all have! With that being said, everyone has been influenced or impacted by someone. That’s what I am meandering about today.
I want to tell you about some of the people that have either had an impact or an influence on my life.
First, let me tell you about my high school football coach, Walt Fiegel. He taught me to have self-respect and confidence (a little shout out to coach Hughes, my wrestling coach, for teaching me discipline). He would treat students as well as athletes with respect. Coach Fiegel encouraged every student to live a life of character. Here’s one of my favorite Fiegel quotes, “Go home and give your mom a hug and tell her you love her.” I could say more but let me end here by saying, “thank you, Coach, for impacting my life! I sure wish you were alive to thank in person.”
The second person I want to tell you about is my junior high youth minister, Kurt Olson. He forever influenced the music I like and showed me what a true faithful follower of Jesus looks like. I’ll tell you upfront that he called me out and confronted me on the lifestyle choices I was making and held me to higher standards, the standards that Jesus set for all of us. Again, I could say so much more, but let me end by saying, “thank you, Kurt, for showing the love of Jesus to a teenager that needed it, love ya, man!”
I’m going to pause for a moment to tell you why this is on my heart. In the last two months two people that have impacted my life passed away. On Christmas day, Bob Agee, the father of one of my closest friends passed away. Just last week Lorena Byrd passed away. Both influenced my life greatly. Bob & Lorena were alike in many ways. They both loved people, rich or poor. Often times you could find them helping people by teaching them or listening to them. I would love to have sat them down in the same room to meet one another. “Thank you, Bob and Lorena, for impacting my life!”
The third person I want to tell you about is my dad. Wow, where do I start? My dad is a strong man in many ways. I have a picture of my dad holding my brother and I over his head, one in each arm. He wasn’t very big when he did that but he had strength from working hard at Wilson Trailer for over forty years. He taught me to change the oil in my first car and required me to mow our yard and shovel our sidewalks. He loved my mom and would not put up with “us boys” giving her a hard time. Yet, it was evident that he loved us. I remember when my dad was baptized and he became a follower of Jesus, after that, he started reading the Bible to us around our kitchen table. “Dad, I love you! Your example and life of character have truly influenced me to be the man I am today.”
And then there is my wife, Laurie! Where do I start? We met our freshman year of college. We will celebrate our 37th year of marriage this May. What an amazing ride it’s been! Here are a few ways she has impacted my life…first, she said, “YES”, woohoo! Second, her love for Jesus has influenced me incredibly. Her discipline in studying the Bible is amazing, and she doesn’t just do it for knowledge, but to know Jesus better. She has shown me Jesus in every avenue of her life, as a wife, mother, sister, daughter and truly as my best friend. “Laurie, your impact on my life has had an amazing influence on who I am. I am a better father, husband, friend, and follower of Jesus because of you. Thank you, Laurie, for loving me as I am, my friend!
The most influential person to impact my life is Jesus! I am forever changed because of Him! I have learned to be humble and kind because of Jesus. I have learned to be strong and courageous because of Jesus. I have the capacity to love because of Jesus. My life forever changed the day I was baptized at camp Nebowa. But let me tell you this, I was not even close to being where I needed to be as a faithful follower of Jesus. That’s what I love about Jesus, He takes us where we are and helps us get to where we need to be…closer to God! I am nothing without Jesus Christ! He is everything to me. I pray that you are faithfully following Him, too. If not, let’s sit down and talk, over a coffee or a Coke. “Words can’t express how thankful I am to be following you, Jesus. Thanks for impacting my life forever, I love you, Jesus!”
Trying to make an impact for Jesus, Mike
Happy New Year ~ 2022
I know what you’re thinking, it’s almost February and I am wishing you a happy new year! And my answer is yes! Let me say it again, but a little louder this time, HAPPY NEW YEAR!
Okay, now that I got that out of my system, let’s move on. We have entered a new year and I am really ready to move into 2022 and not look back! Why, you ask? Because it appears to me that our country doesn’t want to move on! I know you understand what I am saying. I pray that this year will truly be new, that our minds will shift the focus off the negative around us to the things above! God has so much good for us right now. We can’t be overwhelmed by the negativity of this world. I’ll saying even bolder than that, we must not be overwhelmed by the negativity of this world!
That’s why I titled this meandering, happy new year! We need to acknowledge that 2022 will be a good year, a happy year! Will there be struggles and unforeseen stuff? YES, but God will be there with us, through it all!
In Hebrews 13:5-6 God says, “I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you,” 6 so that we confidently say, “The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid. What will man do to me?”
God will be with us every step of the way! Through the ups and downs of life. I am so looking forward to what God has instore for us this year! I am excited to follow His lead and make the best of each day I am given! How about you? What do you say, will you join me??
Let me end this meandering by sharing Romans 8:31-39 (ESV) with you.
31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? 33 Who shall bring any charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 36 As it is written,
“For your sake we are being killed all the day long;
we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”
37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
WOW, that says it all! Nothing can separate us from the love of God!
This year is going to be an amazing year if we faithfully follow Jesus together! Are you willing to put Jesus first and share His love with everyone around you? I am! Let’s make 2022 our best year yet!
Happy New Year, Mike
As I was reading my Bible this morning, I felt God talking to me! No, I didn’t hear His audible voice, like I said, I felt God talking to me, but it was clear and vivid in my mind. So, do you want to know what He said to me??
God said, “Mike, you’ve got it good, so do good.”
Now, let me make this clear. I sat down to write this meandering and thought I was going to write about Fall coming and the joy it brings me because the temperature is cooler, football is back, and the trees are starting to change. But I guess that’s not what God wanted me to write about…that’s why I call these articles “Mike’s Meanderings,” because that is really what they are, my meanderings. I hope you are uplifted and challenged as much as I am!
Ok, back to what God said!
I was reading in 1 Timothy and that’s when God put this in my head. Here’s what I was reading:
17 Teach those who are rich in this world not to be proud and not to trust in their money, which is so unreliable. Their trust should be in God, who richly gives us all we need for our enjoyment. 18 Tell them to use their money to do good. They should be rich in good works and generous to those in need, always being ready to share with others. 19 By doing this they will be storing up their treasure as a good foundation for the future so that they may experience true life. ~ 1 Timothy 6:17-19
Now let me tell you this, when I first started reading this I breezed right past this section of scripture. Why, you ask? Probably for the same reason you did when you read it! I wouldn’t consider myself “rich” and I can bet neither do you. That’s when God said, “Mike, you’ve got it good, so do good!” Did you notice the exclamation point?? I don’t think God was yelling at me, but He wanted my attention. He wanted me to go back and read it again, but this time in the context of knowing that I live in rural Iowa, in America, where I have so many luxuries! So, I did, and wow God’s voice was loud and clear!
Take a moment and read those verses again. Did you get the same sense that I did?
We are so blessed in America and really, we are rich!
We must never put our trust in money or be conceited. We nee to put our hope, our trust in God because he gives us all we need!
God continues to open our eyes and shows us how we should live. We must never forget that we’ve got it good, and we need to do good to others! As we put our trust in God, we will become more generous and willing to share with others in need.
This must go beyond the money side of things! We must be willing to share our faith with others. We must be willing to share the forgiveness we’ve received with those in our homes, our neighborhoods, and our workplaces!
We’ve got it good, so let’s do good! ~ Mike
Delight in the Lord!
In my Experiencing God devotion by Blackaby this morning he said that we need to delight in the Lord. So as my morning went couldn’t get the idea of delighting in the Lord out of my head. It kept coming back to me as I thought (or as I like to call it, meandered) about the Lord and what it looks like to delight in Him.
Let me share the quote that really hit me, “Your relationship with God ought to bring you more joy, satisfaction, and pleasure than any other relationship, activity, or material possession you have.” WOW, I know, right!?! My relationship with God should be the most important relationship in my life, and yours! He went on to say, “Scripture says delight in the Lord! And as we find joy in the Lord, we will see what is truly important, and we will long for these things as the Father does.” Isn’t that incredible to think about? If we delight in the Lord, we will find joy and see what is truly important. Not just that we will see what is truly important but that we will long for, yearn for these things as our Father in heaven longs for them!
Let me share a few verses from the Psalms that confirms what I’m talking about.
Psalm 37:1-6 (NIV)
1 Do not fret because of those who are evil
or be envious of those who do wrong;
2 for like the grass they will soon wither,
like green plants they will soon die away.
3 Trust in the Lord and do good;
dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.
4 Take delight in the Lord,
and he will give you the desires of your heart.
5 Commit your way to the Lord;
trust in him and he will do this:
6 He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn,
your vindication like the noonday sun.
1 Blessed is the one
who does not walk in step with the wicked
or stand in the way that sinners take
or sit in the company of mockers,
2 but whose delight is in the law of the Lord,
and who meditates on his law day and night.
3 That person is like a tree planted by streams of water,
which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither--
whatever they do prospers.
What amazing pictures those are and what amazing promises! So, here’s my challenge to you, grab hold of those promises and delight in the Lord every day!
~ Delighting in the Lord, Mike
Clinging to What is Good
Mike’s Meanderings ~ May 2021
As I sit here trying to decide what to write my mind wanders, meanders if you will. There is so much happening around us. So, as I meander through my thoughts, I ask myself, “Self, what can I say to encourage others?” I often put a burden on myself that really isn’t there. God made it clear to me that I need to stop trying to say the right thing or do the right thing and just listen to Him. As I opened my Bible this morning I read from the book of Romans and God spoke to me. Listen to what He said to me through the words of Paul.
9 Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good. 10 Be devoted to one another in brotherly love;]give preference to one another in honor; 11 not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; 12 rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer, 13 contributing to the needs of the saints, practicing hospitality.
I had to stop and read this passage over and over. I read past it and tried to lose my focus multiple times as God was speaking to me.
A couple words kept screaming at me. Here they are: cling, honor, fervent (Laurie’s favorite word), persevering and practicing.
When we look at the world around us and then try to focus on God it is often difficult. So, when I read this passage, I kept wanting to write what you guys need to do from Paul’s writing, but God kept saying, “this is for you Mike!”
Back to those words!
Cling, cling to what is good! God is good and I must cling to Him and abhor what is evil.
Honor, honor God of course but here Paul is telling me to give honor to others, thinking of other peoples needs before my own.
Fervent, fervent in spirit, I must diligently serve the Lord with all that I am.
Persevering, I will have struggles and God will be with me so I must persevere through them and stop whining about them all the time and let God lead me through them and not wallow in them!
Practicing, I must actually do what God tells me to do. It’s great that I read the Bible and study to get to know God better, but it means nothing if I don’t put into practice what He tells me! He makes it clear that I must treat people with honor and respect and treat them like family.
There is so much more in Romans chapter 12, I would recommend that you take time to read it. Don’t just read it once, take time to read it through multiple times, maybe even take a whole week and meditate on it.
Clinging to what is good, Mike
He is Risen!
Matthew 28:1-7 (NASB)
Now after the Sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to look at the grave. 2 And behold, a severe earthquake had occurred, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled away the stone and sat upon it. 3 And his appearance was like lightning, and his clothing as white as snow. 4 The guards shook for fear of him and became like dead men. 5 The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid; for I know that you are looking for Jesus who has been crucified. 6 He is not here, for He has risen, just as He said. Come, see the place where He was lying. 7 Go quickly and tell His disciples that He has risen from the dead; and behold, He is going ahead of you into Galilee, there you will see Him; behold, I have told you.”
He is risen!
Those three words changed everything!
We celebrate the resurrection of our Lord and Savior once a year, but that’s not enough! Those words should be celebrated in how we live our lives every day. How we live and interact with others should reflect this one event! People should look at us and ask, “Why are you the way you are?” And what should our response be? We should boldly say, “Jesus has changed my life!” The fact is this, our sins were nailed to the cross with Jesus! He has forgiven us and wants us to live like we are forgiven!
What does it look like to live like we are forgiven? Will life always be full of sunshine and roses? Will all my problems and struggles totally go away? NO! But we will have a different perspective. A perspective that looks to the risen Lord first and then allows Him help put our struggles in their place.
He is risen!
As we look at the events of Jesus’ final days on earth, His final meal with His disciples, His arrest, His beating, His trial and ultimately His death on the cross we see what His true character is! That character is love.
Up from the grave He arose! For you and for me! We must reflect that fact in how we live!
I’m choosing to reflect the joy of Jesus’ resurrection!
Will you join me?
Because He lives, I can face tomorrow… Mike
Is your life comfortable? If you have made the choice to follow Jesus, did your life change in anyway? Has it cost you anything to follow Jesus? Or has it been pretty easy? Have you thought about this much? I think about it all the time.
With these thoughts in mind, I want you read about a man who really wanted to see Jesus. He was willing to do whatever it took to see Him. You will probably remember the story as you dig into it.
Luke 19:1-10: He entered Jericho and was passing through. 2 And there was a man called by the name of Zaccheus; he was a chief tax collector and he was rich. 3 Zaccheus was trying to see who Jesus was, and was unable because of the crowd, for he was small in stature. 4 So he ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree in order to see Him, for He was about to pass through that way. 5 When Jesus came to the place, He looked up and said to him, “Zaccheus, hurry and come down, for today I must stay at your house.” 6 And he hurried and came down and received Him gladly. 7 When they saw it, they all began to grumble, saying, “He has gone to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.” 8 Zaccheus stopped and said to the Lord, “Behold, Lord, half of my possessions I will give to the poor, and if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I will give back four times as much.” 9 And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because he, too, is a son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.”
Have you ever been like Zaccheus? Totally committed to getting to Jesus no matter what. Has your life changed since you became a Christian? Or are you a lot like those who grumbled at Jesus being the guest at a sinner’s house? I love that Jesus wasn’t concerned about the grumblers. He went where He was needed most. He loves us where we are at, but He makes it clear to us just like He did with Zaccheus, we cannot keep living in our old way of life. We must move forward.
It’s a lot to think about and process, but we must address it! Know that being a Christian is costly. We are called to be counter cultural as Christians. It will get uncomfortable but it’s so worth it!
One of my favorite songs came up on my play list the other day. I want to share the lyrics with you.
Casual Christian by Degarmo & Key
It's more than a wish, more than a daydream
It's more than just a passing whim
Yes, I've said this all before,
A thousand times or more,
I don't want to waste my life
In chains of sin
I don't wanna be, I don't wanna be
A casual Christian
I don't wanna live, I don't wanna live
A lukewarm life
Cause I wanna light up the night
With an everlasting light
I don't wanna live a casual Christian life
This life is filled with strong distractions
One pulls from the left, one from the right
I've already made up my mind, I'm gonna leave this world behind
I'm gonna make my life a living sacrifice
Are you willing to make your life a living sacrifice? Don’t let the distractions pull you away from God! Don’t live a lukewarm life.
I will echo D&K’s words. I don’t want to live a casual Christian life! I have already made up my mind, I’m going to live my life for Jesus and leave the sins and desires of this world behind. Will you join me???
Faithfully following Jesus,
P.S. Here is a link to a quick message from Francis Chan that is well worth your time to watch: https://youtu.be/oSw7-Vbm3bU
Are You Serious??
Are You Serious?
That’s probably what most of America asked on Tuesday night, September 29th as we watch the Presidential Debate Debacle (which is what I call it now). Are you serious? These two men can’t even have a civilized discussion. Was I surprised…NO! Was I disappointed…YES! Now that I got that out of my system let’s move on.
Are you serious? This question has been uttered by many as we’ve worked through the last eight months of this virus. I don’t know where you stand with it, but it is real. But fear cannot become the norm! It must not control us! We need to be wise and respect each other as we navigate through this. We must care enough for each other that we will try to protect the most vulnerable. Ok, enough about this let’s move on.
Are you serious? This must have been what the disciples were thinking when Jesus said, “In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me (John 16:16).” What?? Are you serious?? Where are you going? They had lots of questions. The world had not really jumped on board with Jesus’ message and honestly the world was kind of fighting it. To say it nicely the religious leaders were not on board with Jesus being the son of God. And now Jesus is talking about leaving.
ARE YOU SERIOUS? You are going to leave us now? What are we going to do?
Listen to what Jesus went on to say in John 16:31-33:
31 “Do you now believe?” Jesus replied. 32 “A time is coming and in fact has come when you will be scattered, each to your own home. You will leave me all alone. Yet I am not alone, for my Father is with me. 33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
Jesus said you will be scattered, and you will have trouble! But He didn’t leave it at that. He made it perfectly clear how to handle that trouble!
So here it is! Jesus’ words to His disciples in their time of crisis is the same for us today in our crisis, pandemic, riots, struggles or lets just call it an overall mess!
Let me repeat those words of encouragement that Jesus left:
33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
Don’t miss it! Don’t let the question, “Are you serious?” be where you stop! Get past it!
Jesus told His disciples to have peace in Him. He told them to take heart. Why did He say those things.?
Because He has overcome the world!! Jesus overcame the world back then. And He has overcome anything and everything we will ever face. Do you believe it?
We can be overcomers as well. Not on our own, not by our own power but by taking Jesus to heart. Believing His words and grabbing hold of His peace and genuinely believing that He has overcome the world!
This is not what I had written for my meandering this week, but I felt led to share it! Be encouraged in the midst of this chaotic world we live in and know that God’s got this!
We’re in this together! Don’t let the divisiveness of this world pull you down and suck you in! ~ Mike
It’s a Tuesday morning and I’m sitting in my office thinking. Thinking can be dangerous you know! Come on, you know what I mean. My mind can wander to so many different places and with all that’s happened in 2020 it has taken me on a whirlwind of a ride already this morning. From last Sunday’s sermon, to a family that is hurting at the loss of a loved one, to wondering how the teachers and students are doing. I even pondered briefly what football was going to be like this Fall for our High Schools all the way through college to the NFL. What will fantasy football look like this year? Know this, it’s a dangerous thing to ask me what I’m thinking.
But one thing kept coming to the forefront of my thoughts. Do you want to know what it was…??? Well, I’m going to tell you anyway :^) FRIENDS!! That is what’s on my mind. Aren’t friends great (that’s more a statement than a question)!? What would we do with out them? Friends help us when we are down and celebrate with us during the joys of life. Man, I love the friends God has put in my life!
I have been blessed through the years to have great friends. And at this moment I have a couple friends going through cancer, another one going through depression, another one fighting addictions and yet another one who is searching for what’s best for his family. As you read this you can identify can’t you! You have friends who are hurting, searching, and depressed. We’re all in the same boat. Life is hard, life is tuff and life downright stinks sometimes. BUT, life is also fun, exciting, challenging and just outright good! Friends make life better no matter what is happening!
There is a song by Geoff Moore & The Distance called “Life Together.” It’s a great song and I would encourage all of you to listen to it (you can find it on YouTube, Pandora, Spotify etc.). Here is part of the lyrics:
It's life together
Together we live, together we walk
Together we stand, divided we fall
When you are weak, I will be strong
When I fall back, won't you pull me along?
This is life together, I'll stick with you through any kind of weather
Life together, it's meant to be forever and ever
In honor of the one who paid the price
His gift of love that gives us life
Together, I'll stick with you through any kind of weather
Life together, it's meant to be forever and ever
Let me put it this way, life is better together. I learned this when I was a kid playing “Cowboys and Indians” or football with those from my neighborhood. If life was good then, think how much better it is for us as adults. We’re stronger together! If you fall, I’ll pick you up. If I stumble you will be there to hold me up!
When we live life together this way, we will truly honor Jesus! He gave His life for us! He sticks with us through all kinds of weather.
Are you up for it?
Let’s do life together.
At the Feet of Jesus
Do you ever get frustrated? I sure do!
You know what I’m talking about, you are trying to open a document but it won’t open and no matter what you do the computer just makes that annoying noise when it won’t budge. You have worked all day and you get home to find your house in the same mess you left it in. You have tried over and over to get the faucet to stop leaking and it just won’t stop! Come on admit it, you’ve been there just like me. Life can be difficult and challenging. But no matter what you do nothing works.
Let me tell you at the get go, I’m just like you. I don’t always have great days. I don’t have all the answers and I definitely have a lot of questions when it comes to trying to understand things. So, with that being said we are all in this great adventure we call life together.
This year has definitely been, how can I put this? Frustrating. But as the months continue to go by, I have surprisingly found peace. Not on my own mind you! I just finally listened to what I’ve known for years.
To truly be at peace, I have to be willing to let go of circumstances and lay them at the feet of Jesus.
One of my favorite singers is Glenn Kaiser (formerly of Resurrection Band). He wrote a song that has helped bring me a focus more than I would have ever imagined. Normally I like my music loud and upbeat but this song really hit home with me and I listen to it often if I begin to lose focus.
Glenn has real life experience and was once an addict. He wrote this song specifically with a slow tempo and from the heart. Here are the lyrics of his song At the Feet of Jesus:
I lay all I am at the feet of Jesus, counting the cost
I lay all I am at the feet of Jesus, trusting His cross
I lay all I am at the feet of Jesus, faith in His love
I lay all I am at the feet of Jesus, enthroned above
Lay it down, lay it all down, give it up, give it all up
Lay it all...down, I lay all I’ve done at the feet of Jesus, trusting His grace
I lay all my walk at the feet of Jesus, to finish the race
And I lay my faith at the feet of Jesus, trusting His choice
What I think I know at the feet of Jesus, I’m seeking His voice
I lay it down, I lay it all down, I give it up, I give it all up
I lay me down; I lay me all down...Before my Lord and Savior Jesus
I have learned the hard way that may way is not always the best way. Life experience has really opened my eyes to the importance of giving all I have to Jesus and lay it at His feet to lead me through whatever it is that I’m facing. Will you join me in trusting in His grace?
That’s my challenge to you as we travel this great adventure, called life together! Lay it all at the feet of Jesus. It’s so worth it!
P.S. Look up Glenn Kaiser’s song At the Feet of Jesus on YouTube. You will be glad you did!
I have decided to start writing some of the things that meander around in my mind. So, if and when you choose to read these meanderings know that some are just that, meanderings. But sometimes it may be stuff that I’ve thought about in great depth. With that being said I pray these thoughts will inspire and encourage you on this great adventure called life!
Primghar Church of Christ