Monday, August 29, 2011


And then came Day 7 in My Walk in Silence.  I've always like the number seven.  I think back to when I was growing up and Mickey Mantle, the New York Yankee legend,  wore the number, "7".  He was my all-time favorite baseball player.  I think that's where my fascination with it all began.  Now seven has a different feeling.  It's where it days of prayer time.  Sure, I stumbled a couple of times, but for the most part, I kept my mouth zipped.   That in itself was quite an accomplishment. 

Did the final day have any capper to it?   In a simple reply....without a doubt.  Sunday, I had 3 plus hours of meetings on the launch of the Johnston-Grimes satellite church.  The meetings were a little frustrating in that I had to write down any question I had.  Some people were understanding and others seemed a little bothered by my silence.  Sorry about that.  It was really a lesson in patience on both ends.  But then came the real education.     

Afterward, I attended the 5 p.m. service at Lutheran Church of Hope in West Des Moines.  Our pastor, Mike Housholder, told of the story of a young woman surfer, Bethany Hamilton.  Hamilton was an up and comer...destined to be one of the best in her sport.  Or so people had deemed.  But something happened on that journey.  One night, the little 13-year old was surfing with some friends and a shark attacked the group.  In one quick moment, Bethany's life changed.  The shark attacked Hamilton and tore off one of arms.   Her career, her life, her love for the sport of surfing was in jeopardy.  At least that's what anyone thought who didn't know the Hamilton family. 

But Bethany's parents had prepared themselves for these happenings.  From a young child, her mother and father had instilled the word of God in her.  In every situation, they said, God can be your rock.  And they reinforced those words time and time again.  This was one of those times......

"I can do all things".........

Bethany's story is told in a recently released movie, "Soul Surfer".  The scene in the hospital as she comes out of surgery depicts a conversation between her and her father.   "When can I surf again", she questions.  Her dad responds, "aren't you a little busy right now".  "When then?", was Bethany's answer back.  "Soon", said her father.  "Remember.....I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me", he recited.  And she repeated it back to him, ever so slowly, "I.... can do..... all things through Christ,..... who strengthens me".  Isn't that the truth?  If we'd just walk that piece of wisdom out in our daily lives.

Continuing the Hamilton story, Bethany eventually returned to surfing and has been quite successful, despite the loss of her left arm.  She seems undaunted by her shortcoming.  Her words attest to that.  A reporter asked her one day what she would do if given the chance to undo the loss of her arm. She says that she would still lose it because she can "embrace more people now than she ever could with two arms".
"I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me"...........

So, you can see....this was the perfect ending for me.  Those words, "I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me", was exactly what I needed.  Not only did Christ provide me with the strength to make it these past seven's the fuel I can rely on each and every time life throws its challenges my way.  BOOOOOOOOOOOYA. 



P.S.  My wife asked me if I have observations that I want to share about these past seven days.  I do.  But for the meantime, I'm going to take a little time to do some sorting out.  But I want to share them with you.  All I know is....a little over a week ago, I read a short little story about a young lady who did a week of Silent Prayer.  And it challenged me.    And it just might you too, at least I hope it does.       

Sunday, August 28, 2011


Today was a frustrating day.  Not only for me, but for those around me.  When I thought about it, it was  surprising that this didn't happen on Day Three or Four.  Maybe it was the culmination of alot of things, I'm not sure.  I do know, though, this day wasn't totally unexpected.

Let me start from the frustrations of those around me.  "It will be nice when you're able to talk again", my wife related.   Had she hit the wall?  Probably.  I'm sure trying to initiate some discussion only to realize it won't go into any frustrating.  And there are times that she and several others have asked me questions, only to quickly realize they weren't going to hear my voice.   Even a question like, "what time is it?", brought forth a hand point to the clock from me rather than a vocal response. 

Back on Day Four a number of us were in a meeting.  One of the participants started to ask me a question in a rather loud voice.  He must have thought the louder he talked, the easier it would be for me to hear.  One of the other members quickly interjected, "John's not deaf, he just can't talk.  You don't have to talk louder".  Forgetfulness....frustration....maybe a little of both.  Anyhow, it had to be one of the funnier situations of the week.

My biggest "downer" today had to do with people and their inability to acknowledge others.  I took an early morning bike ride.  During my little 10-mile jaunt I encountered over 25 people.  Some were biking, others walking and some jogging.  I figured today, more than any other day, I would seek some sort of reaction from people by simply waving "hi".  Want to take a guess how many either waved back or responded by saying something?  Less than 50%.  Wow........WOW.  What's with that?  I was taken aback when one biker went far beyond the "normal" connection.  "Hi, how are you?", he inquired.  Thanks, dude.  Hope my wave back was enough.

If a Duck can wave, why can't WE?

Have we become such a self indulging society we can't acknowledge others?  Are people that miserable they can't share a little happiness?  Have the stalkers of the world caused us to "bubble" ourselves?  How much effort does it take to say hello in some sort or fashion?  That's what I found frustrating about the day for me.

We can do something, you know.   A friend of mine makes it a point to smile or say hi to others when he is on the skywalk in downtown Des Moines.  It's his way of giving something to others because he feels that might be the only time that day someone showed them some acceptance ....and maybe, just maybe a little LOVE.

God can teach us alot in regards to this subject of frustration.  Let's see what he has to say.:                  

"I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.  For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed.   For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God".-Romans 8:18-21

Another thought.  Continue to be a light for those around you.  There will be frustrations no doubt....but there will also be rewards.  A smile, a wave can go a long way......longer than you can ever imagine!!

On Day Seven, I'll be in 3 plus hours of meetings on the launch of the Johnston-Grimes Lutheran Church of Hope Church.  It will be quite a day not being able to talk.  Hopefully, people won't be too frustrated with my silence. 

I can see it now.....I'm going have to do alot of smiling and waving!  Just to let them know I love them. 



Saturday, August 27, 2011


When I reflected on my Day Five Walk in Silence....I couldn't really come up with anything of  note to pass along.  It was pretty much an uneventful day.  Or perhaps I should say it was a day that was smooth sailing.  Nothing tragic, health was not an issue and the puppy didn't make any mess in the house.  Perhaps I should rejoice in that last one....maybe I'll look back on that as eventful, who knows!!

Regardless, we all need days like this.  But something kept churning inside me.  I  need some further explanation.  Could our days short of adversity be some of the most profitable to us?   Should we embrace the uneventful days more than ever?

During an uneventful time in Israel's history, a faithful man named Jabez prayed a simple straightforward prayer and gained the favor and blessings of God.  I've read the book.  Perhaps you have too.  But who was this man?   How did God use him to glorify his kingdom?

"Almost everyone knows of Moses, And of David, Job, or Paul—But how many of us can truly say that we can recall Jabez?  Yet, he is mentioned in the Bible As someone especially blessed.  Why was he honored by God, standing out above the rest?

Jabez was more honorable than his brothers; and his mother called his name Jabez, saying, "Because I bore him in pain.  Jabez called upon the God of Israel, saying, "Oh that you would bless me and enlarge my border, and that your hand might be with me, and that you would keep me from harm so that it might not bring me pain!"  And God granted what he asked. -1 Chronicles 4: 9-10

Almost hidden in lists and genealogies, certain ones receive God’s attention.  And for reasons only known to Him, he gives them special mention.  What an honor to be named in God’s Word!  Surely the mention of Jabez must be Meant to teach us all something.  Like a lesson for you and for me.  For every mention of men in Scriptures, of poorest servant or richest lord is there for God’s glory and purpose.  Never be ignored.  For whether spoken of in whole chapters, or in a single phrase or two,  or like Jabez, almost hidden in lists of strange names. they are all there for our attention, like precious rays of light,  teaching us more of the wisdom and truth of our God’s compassion and might.  We’ll not see our names in the Bible—But God’s Word shows us the Way, to see our names written in one of God’s Books—In the “Book of Life” someday!

A reminder to others

Several years ago an old friend of mind, Matt Buchenau, wrote a book, "Your Dreams-God's Plan".  As is custom, he began promoting his book through the Christian book circuit/conferences.  One day, he was at a conference and next to him was a booth that seemed to be getting a whole lot of attention.  For the life of him, he didn't understand.  Now mind you, Matt's book was regulation size, so to speak.....and here was this guy named Dr. Bruce Wilkinson with some little dinky book, getting all the hoopla.  Matt later found out, much to his red-face....his booth was next to the author of "Prayer of Jabez".  Matt has had to live down that story ever since....all in in good nature, of course.  But it's a constant reminder that big things do come in small packages....

So, thank you God for giving me an "uneventful" day.  It helped me reconnect with the Prayer of Jabez.  In prayer, I ask you God to, enlarge my border....have your hand with me....keep me from harm that it not bring me pain.



Friday, August 26, 2011


Allen Iverson.  That's a name some of you might be acquainted with.....and I'm sure others have no idea who he is.  To say his name is mentioned in my blog, is surprising to say the least.  I really never cared for his game or his attitude.  But here is what I learned yesterday in Day Four: A Walk In Silence. 

Allen Iverson was a standout, but headstrong player for the Philadelphia 76ers of the National Basketball Association.  He was an 11 time All-Pro.  Yet he often put individual before team.  He was forever in conflict with authority.  In 2002, he had an run-in with his head coach, Larry Brown.  

The two frequently clashed; for example, when the 76ers were defeated in the first round of the NBA Playoffs, Brown criticized Iverson for missing team practices.  Iverson responded by saying, "We're sitting here, I'm supposed to be the franchise player, and we're in here talking about practice," and went on a rant that included the word "practice" over twenty times".  His words made an impact.....albeit a negative one.

In recent weeks, I have been helping two legends in Iowa broadcasting history launch their shows on Christian radio.  J Michael McKoy and Steve Deace have taken their platforms to KTIA-99.3 FM in Boone, Iowa.  McKoy is on from 3-4 p.m. locally and Deace's show is syndicated nationally from 4-6 p.m.   In addition to the radio program, both are shown live at

Practice?  It's a Process..........

Yesterday, during Steve's show a discussion took place during a commercial break of the process in selecting a proper candidate for the Republican Presidential run.  Steve mentioned the word "process" several times and that got me to thinking of the Iverson rant.  I passed Steve a note reminding him of AI's press conference.  In the next segment, he used the word "process" instead of "practice".  Everyone in the studio had a laugh.  End of story, right?  Well.....when I got home that evening, Iverson and the word "process" kept rattling in my head.  Iverson's remade message just might have legs....long lasting legs, I thought.  So, this morning I sent Steve an email encouraging him to continue the "process" in educating his audience to know the candidates and their stances and their responsibilities as a Christian.    Here's a portion....

Ok, Iverson.   Help us again, big guy.  Show us the way....or rather, show us the other way.  Steve, when you and Jen (Steve's co-host) were talking about the political "process" during the break, Iverson's video piece came to mind.  It wasn't him....heck, I couldn't even remember his name.....brain cramp, for sure.  But it was his dislike of the word, "Practice".  Go back and look at the piece.  The first time, he said it, it was with disdain.  The second, not so much so, and by the third time, I think he was beginning to see it didn't make sense to utter those words.  Not only did he look like an idiot for going public, he showed his total disgust for authority.

Many of us have issues with AUTHORITY.  Allen sure did.  I sure do.  But this past week has been a true eye opener in what God is doing in my life.  He's changing me.  He's transforming me.....and that's been a big Process. 

Steve, Allen Iverson, might have done us all a favor yesterday.  Or maybe best that we say, God used Iverson's actions to help us all understand the right way.  Even though the words might me a little different, the thought is still there"........

Is there a process in becoming a Christian.....yeah.

One is not automatically born a “Christian” nor is anyone a Christian merely based upon living in a so-called “Christian” country, being part of a “Christian” family, being given a “Christian” name or because one has attended a “Christian” school.
  • The Bible teaches that each one of us must, at an age of accountability, individually/personally “become a Christian” - Acts 26:28. 
  • Since “the “sum of Thy word is truth” - Ps. 119:160, it will therefore be the sum of conditions that God Himself has given in the process of becoming a Christian that one must comply with or “gladly receive” (Acts 2:41, KJB) in order to simply become a New Testament Christian , nothing more, nothing less, nothing else - Acts 11:26; 1 Pet. 4:16.
In becoming a “Christian” no one should request of anyone anything but the very same “process” or “series of actions that bring about a particular result, end, or condition” than that which we can read about in the “Great Commission” the cases of conversions in the Book of Acts.




Thursday, August 25, 2011


Do not judge, or you too will be judged.   For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.

“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?   How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye?  You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye. -Matthew 7:1-5

Last Sunday, my wife and I were traveling back home from a family reunion.  Along the way, we entered into a conversation about people and situations.  About five minutes into our banter, I turned to my wife and said, " maybe I'm too critical of people".  Her response.  Not a word.  You'd have thought she was exercising a week of Prayer Silence.  "Thanks for the dialogue", I said rather disgusted.  "Well maybe you are", she finally offered.  Okay, maybe I am.  But am I any more than others, I thought.

Day Three of my Walk in Silence led me to think more about what God expects of me.  How he wants me to think of others.   Matthew 7:1-5 provided the great eye opener if you listen to the words.  Recently, I read about an individual that had passed away.  "You never heard him say a bad word about anyone", the article said.  "He always had something good to say about people".  Geesh.  I'm sure you've heard the same type of eulogy.  You've no doubt known someone with the same character.  Would you say that was a gift?  It might very well be.

Regardless, this has been my Day Three eye-opener.  Keep still.  If you don't have something good to say about someone, don't say it.  That's not to suggest I won't have differences of political persuasions or frustrations with my favorite sports teams...but that's another opinion altogether.  Thanks God for the challenge, I think.  Afterall, I'm not the judge.  "All I can do is try", signed your faithful servant.      

Glad I'm Not That Judge.....Ooops, Sorry
I also had another thought on Day Three.  Picture this.  You are about to have an important business meeting and you suddenly lose your voice.  What do you do?  Cancel it?  Or get creative?  How about if something like this happened. 

Realizing your voice isn't coming back anytime soon, you jot down your situation on a piece of paper, xerox it and hand it out to the staff.  You ask each person at the table to list one or two key responses to the problem at hand on a piece of paper.  From there you put the points on a board so everyone can see. You point to one, then another and seek input via notepads.  No one has a voice stronger than another.  Problems could be discussed without all the additional rhetoric....and everyone can share their views.  We are a meeting to death society.  We spend more time in meetings accomplishing little and wasting productive time.  Imagine too, "engaged" employees at the meeting table, rather than ones who offer little and are more a distraction to others.  You never know.  Silence can be a good thing.  I'm seeing that more and more each day.     

Well, it's on to day Four.  Just about the half-way mark on this Walk in Silence.  Gotta Go.  God has something to say to me and I want to hear what it is.



Wednesday, August 24, 2011


I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.
2 Corinthians 6:18 (NIV)

The verse above from 2 Corinthians seems like a good place to start as a I reflect back on Day 2 of a Walk in Silence.  The words seem so fitting as I seek to get closer to God, but in truth, it's not the words, it's the image I have standing next to him.  Words can't begin to describe that.  But here is what I encountered in two days that can.

I've had a couple of stumbles along the way.  I've blurted something out or entered a conversation without a thought to my vow of silence.  Then...Whammmm.  Upside the head comes the realization that I've spoken out of turn.  The first couple of times, I was angry. Then disappointment.  Then after the third time, I came to the understanding that "it's alright".  "Don't beat yourself up.  And ever since then....the stumbles have been fewer.  Only two on Day 2.

What have I experienced in the way of people's reaction to my silence?  ALOT.  Some have been frustrated with me. "I'm really good at charades", one person said.  "Write it down what you're trying to say". Okay.....a little tolerance, please.  What if my condition was lifelong?  One thing for sure, I'm certainly coming to an appreciation of what people with disabilities go through each and every day.

When I went to the grocery store, I couldn't find a graham cracker crust for an ice cream pie for our oldest son's birthday.  So, I needed to ask someone.  I made a motion to my mouth that I couldn't speak and showed the courtesy person the email my wife sent me about the grocery item.  She was so helpful.  When I walked out of store, I smiled at her....thanking her for the help.  She nodded back.  I wondered if she thought, how sad, he can't talk.

As I reached the parking lot, I encounterd one of our Alpha leaders from Church.  I gave her a big grin and pulled the zippper across my lips.  Her response.  "Oh, you must be in Silent Prayer", she responded.  I nodded yes and looked for a piece of paper to explain further....but couldn't locate one.  Her reaction?  "Have a good day".  Later that afternoon,  I emailed her a further account telling her she must be Holy Spirit Driven, for sure.  She picked up right away, what the Lord was asking me to do!!!

Now for the family life.  My wife is totally supportive.  Perhaps even enjoying my silence.  Remember Dear, I don't think it's everlasting.  Then again, only God knows, right?  Our three boys are baffled, frankly.  They're not sure what to make of the "new" Dad in the house.  The amazing thing is, is that they changed immediately.  They no longer raise their voice....they seem certain to have me understand their questions or comments.  They've slowed down and focused on communication.  Imagine that?  On the other hand, I'm almost immune to argue with them.  I make my point by writing down my thoughts and they're respectful of what I have to say....truly respectful.  Is this much different than the social media craze in our lives?  Much.....and here's why.  Where texting is quick and to the point, rarely are you standing with that person in a discussion.  As I right down a note, I'm right there.  My boys can see in my eyes, in my demeanor and hopefully my heart what I'm trying to tell them.  That's encouraging.

Where has Satan been?  Well, he's been around.  On the first day, I became frustrated with a change of plans to my day.  I had to work things around for a meeting...totally disrupting what I had going on at home.  I was trying to blog, the dog was sick, my son had a birthday coming up and I was thinking about that.  After some email exchanges, the meeting took place and all was well.   Through patience and a willingness to alter the day, Satan didn't win.  Then....I started feeling the effects of a cold coming on.  This is not the time for a cold, I thought.  God, give me strength to ward off this distraction.  I want to be sharp....not feeling drug out from cold medicines.  So far, it's about a 5 on a scale of 10.   

What has God been telling me through these two days?  Be open, John.  Listen to what I'm telling you.  I'm going to change you.  Is that awesome or what?  This morning, on the cusp of Day 3, I wrote a note to my wife and knelt down at her feet so she could read it.  "Please forgive me for all the hurtful words I've said to you in our 22 plus years of marriage".  Kind of start the day off differently.  I know it was emotional for the both of us. 

And that's where I'll finish today.  This morning,  in my small men's group we were talking about LOVE.  In our break out group, I wrote a note asking the question, "can't Love be an unspoken word that we exhibit everyday?"  UNSPOKEN.  Wow, thank you for those thoughts, God.  I didn't have to say a word this morning, but you used me to open the ears of each and every man in the room.

How Powerful is Prayer?  Big Time.

More to come in the remaining days.  I leave you with these thoughts.  Perhaps you can see what God is opening my ears to next.     

"Whoever derides their neighbor has no sense,
   but the one who has understanding holds their tongue.
  A gossip betrays a confidence,
   but a trustworthy person keeps a secret".-Proverbs 11:12-13



Monday, August 22, 2011


If you haven't followed my blog, I need to update you from last week when I felt challenged to go a week without talking.  Seven days of Prayerful Silence.  I know, it sounds questionable at first.  But the longer and longer I thought about doing this "test", the more it made sense.  Actually, it made more sense in other areas.  Can I listen better, will my touch be more compassionate, can I smell aromas that have wavered over my nose for years, will I be able to see things in a different light.....and will I be able to taste like never before. 

It's early...real early.  My week walk began at midnight last night.  Last night I  had several unusual dreams.  Each one had to do with me breaking my silence and responding to a situation.  Not what I really had in mind.  This morning when I rolled out of bed, I was mindful of the previous night's failures.  I set my jaw a little tighter and focused on zipping the lips.  My first test was connecting with my wife before she went to work.  Through simple head nods and waves....mission accomplished.  Now onto number two....walking the dogs. 

Our two golden retriever's, Mason and Barrett, need voice commands.  Or at least I thought they did.  We set out on our jaunt and encountered a neighbor walking his daughter to the bus stop.  He smiled, waved and said, "Hi".  I responded with a "thumbs up",  not anything in the way of words.  I wondered, "does he think I'm being rude in not speaking to the two of them?"  I gave another smile and a whistle to the two dogs and we were off in another direction.  The remainder of the stroll I learned through hand signals and hand claps how to get the "boys" attention.  Okay....making progress, I thought.

Now, I needed to set the story in motion by writing down the beginning to the journey.  So, I started typing.  Less than five minutes into the story....I heard the pup, Barrett, yelp.  I looked and saw him pooping on the carpet.  Crap....and I mean that in more ways than one.  I waved and ran to him as quick as I could, but the deed had been done.  Crap.  As I picked him up, I looked closer and saw he was sick.  Something he ate had upset his stomach.  We made an exit to the outside. Both of us needed some fresh air. What did I come away with?   I think I made a conscious effort to react, but not overreact.  Already the "tests" were beginning. 

The "teaching" can come at any age
An hour before this "learning", I had read a devotion in the Upper Room.  It talked about life lessons.....and it was becoming more visible as the minutes wore on.  Here's the story:

'I was born with a hole in the roof of my mouth that causes my speech to sound muffled and unclear. Throughout my life, I have complained to God because I am not like everyone else. I was bitter and unhappy for a long time; and my anger grew, especially a few years ago in my early teenage years -- until I began noticing people around me.

I was shopping at a local store when I approached a man who was moving slowly. One of his arms and one leg were completely paralyzed. I looked more closely to see his face and found that he was laughing. Even without being able to use his arm and leg, he was happy. How could this be? I tried to think what life would be like if I did not have use of an arm and a leg.

Even though I have a problem speaking, I can still be thankful for my ability to talk. I learned that in life we often complain about our problems, only to find that other people have problems worse than ours. While I was complaining, I was not looking to God and trusting God for who I am. Now I try to thank God for who I am, just as I am. That is hard to do, so sometimes I pray for patience, joy, and healing.

Another challenge arose later on in the morning....then another.  So far, I haven't buckled.  So far.  This won't be easy, I know that.  I'm praying that you hear God right along with me.  Here is my prayer.....

"But thou when thou shalt pray, enter into thy chamber, and having shut the door, pray to thy Father in secret: and thy Father who seeth in secret will repay thee.  And when you are praying, speak not much, as the heathens. For they think that in their much speaking they may be heard.  Be not you therefore like to them, for your Father knoweth what is needful for you, before you ask him.-Matthew 6:6-8



Friday, August 19, 2011


God uses those who are big....and little....and old and young.  That's the awesome thing about God.  He can use any size or sha;pe or age he wants.  I'm going to tell you two stories today, drastically different in nature.  In the end, I think you can see God's hand within both of their lives....even when we are tempted to think otherwise.  First, let's go to the little North Iowa town of Rockford where friends and family will honor a fallen hero.  

Iowa Governor Terry Branstad has ordered all flags in Iowa be flown at half-staff Friday, August 19, 2011 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. in honor of Petty Officer Jon T. Tumilson, 35.

Petty Officer Tumilson was killed in action Saturday, August 6, 2011, when a Taliban rocket-propelled grenade shot down a helicopter carrying 30 Americans, including Tumilson and 21 other Navy SEALs. Tumilson was posthumously awarded the Purple Heart and Defense Meritorious Service Medal.

The Tumilson family offered these thoughts.  "Our son and brother, Jon T. Tumilson, died living his dream as a Navy SEAL. We will miss him every day for the rest of our lives. We are so very proud of Jon – proud of the person he was, proud of the high standard he lived to, and we are especially proud of what he did with his life.

"We received so many wonderful messages and thoughts from a great group of fellow SEALs and military friends who are Jon’s friends and are now cherished friends of ours.  Jon and his friends are making a positive difference in our world – they work hard and make incredible sacrifices for the good of our Nation and our world.  He would want every American to know that and to be thankful for our military.

Petty Officer Jon Tumilson
 "Jon was a Navy SEAL and he was proud to die this way – for his country and for the people he loved so much. We respect the nature of their jobs and the need to protect these men and women so they can continue to serve our nation; therefore, we will not provide details of Jon’s military service.

"We are deeply appreciative for every visit, phone call, email message, prayer and thought offered to our family during our grief. We thank each and every one of our friends, our community, the U.S. Navy for helping our family through this painful time. We would like to ask that the news media respect our privacy and the privacy of other Families who are suffering through loss of a beloved son, brother, husband or father.
"God bless our military, their families and our nation."

You just never thought it would happen to Jon," a good friend, Mark Bigg said.  "He's done so many dangerous things."

Now, I'd like to show you a video of a little guy named Eliot.  And I do mean little.  But God used Eliot and continues to use Eliot.  His video has had over 3.4 million views.  Here's his story.....


Two much different stories but both so POWERFUL.  God used Petty Officer Tumilson for 35 years of his life and Eliot for 99 days, yet both will leave lasting images on us all.  You have an opportunity today to pass along to others these two stories.  Work it into the conversation.  Tell others the Good News.... 

This past week at my men's group, "Men Inspired", our leader Fritz Trost shared 99 Balloons.  For 6 minutes all eyes were fixed on the video.  At the end.....there was silence.  It was apparent in the tears streaming down the cheeks of many men....God had spoke.  All we have to do is listen.  Big Jon and Little Eliot have touched us.  Their deaths offer inspiration.....despite our sorrows.  

II Cor. 1:3,4
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.-II Cor. 1:3-4



Tuesday, August 16, 2011


Where would you be today without God?  No, really.  Stop and think before you answer.  Would you be in a gutter some place?  Or a half-way house?......perhaps in prison?  Would you have stayed in your marriage when things became unbearable?  Would you be divorced???   What would your service to others look like?  Or would it look pretty selfish?  Could you have accomplished half of what you have without God in your life? 

I'm asking you these questions because they're the ones I'm thinking about?  And I'm curious if I'm the only one thinking these things or if you are too.   Could it be you're looking for a deeper connection to God or maybe you just want to be able to UNDERSTAND him more?

I'm going to have to come clean and make some admissions.  First off, I'm pretty agitated at God right now.  Truthfully, I'm mad, angry, disappointed, confused, perplexed and hurt too.  I've yelled and screamed and exhibited my displeasure in a number of ways.  All because I want some answers in and for my life.  I want his direction in how I can serve him going forward and I want it to be abundantly clear that his hand is all over it.  But instead, what am I experiencing is shut door after shut door.  And when the doors aren't shut, they remain little "teases".  Is this the road I should wait for?  God, I'm waiting......but it's reaching that point where the waiting has gone on for too long and the questions far outweigh the answers?  Are you still there God?  Why can't I hear you?  When are you going to show yourself to me?  That's where I was at this morning.

I woke up peeved and I wanted God to know that.  After a couple of hours of wasted "angry" energy it was apparent I needed to do something else.  So.....I grabbed my Bible and the Daily Guideposts.  Go on, God.  Try and get through to me....that's what  my challenging demeanor spoke.  Come on God, I thought, show yourself.  Here's what happened next.....

When I opened the little book to the reading of the day, this met my eyes.  "Be Silent Before the Lord God!-Zephaniah 1:7

I was blown away.  I didn't have a come back.  I knew God was speaking to me.   How did he know exactly the right thing to tell me?  How?  But that's only the beginning.  Yes, there's more.  The story within the reading had to do with a young lady who was a student of spirituality.  In her studies she became encouraged to "go silent for a week".  She felt God asking her to recognize another aspect of their relationship.  So, she commenced to be silent.

At first, her family's remarks bordered on silliness.  "It seems like there's more room in the house" Dad said.  "Is this permanent", said one of her brothers.  But then as one day turned to two and then three, the comments changed in there nature.  ""We should applaud this form of prayer", said the young lady's mother.  A curious youngest brother asked, "Is it hard to be silent?"  "At the beginning it is", she said, "then it becomes a prayer". 

Needless to say, I found the words convicting.  I'm always one to talk first and fire back.  I'm sure I don't listen as well as I should.  I want things to happen quickly.  But silence.....complete silence.  Could I do that?  Is it possible for me to exact some changes in my thinking and my just shut up and listen for God?   Could silence be a big maturing aspect in my Christianity?  Is this another step I need to take?

After arguing with myself for several minutes whether I could do such a thing......I came to a quick conclusion.  I NEED TO DO THIS!  I need to see if I can make this a "prayer".  One that I would remember for the remainder of my life.  So here's my next steps.  If you want to come along...join in.  I'd be honored to have others follow suit. 

For the remainder of this week, I'm going to prepare myself and people around me for what I'm about to undertake.  Or at least try to undertake.  I'm going to have to write something down on a piece of paper to explain my "silence".  Some, I'm sure will find this challenge amusing...others might think I'm being a jerk by not speaking.  Will my three sons take advantage of my silence and get some shots in on old Dad.....perhaps.  But most importantly, I believe I will hear some things I never have before, just by being silent.  I've already begun thinking of some of the do's and don'ts.  I'm sure there will be parts of the day that are easier than others.  Hopefully as the days pass, it will become easier.   Hopefully.  More than anything, I want to see if I find some great wisdom by being quiet before the Lord God. 

Silence......leads to many things Golden

"For most people prayer means words. We are familiar with liturgical prayers recited in the cycle of corporate worship.  We share in intercessory and healing prayers in which the deepest needs of our hearts are presented to God.  Or we join in the extemporaneous prayer of the informal prayer meeting. But, from the earliest years of Christian tradition, a form of prayer has been practiced that does not depend on words.
The practice of silent prayer finds is roots in the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures.  The prophet Habakkuk counselled his congregation that, upon encountering God, there is only one appropriate response.  The prophet declared, “the Lord is in his holy temple; let all the earth keep silence before him!” (Habakkuk 2:20) Isaiah said simply, “Sit in silence.” (Isaiah 47:5)

This is going to be an exciting, interesting and challenging journey.  If you would, pray for me, wish me good fortune, wisdom and understanding.  I'm going to need it, for sure.  I'm about to find out, "Can I Walk in Silence?"

It all begins August 22nd....



Saturday, August 13, 2011


Staff Sgt. Salvatore Giunta and  Sgt. Leroy Petry get ready and make some elbow are about to be joined by another deserving member of the U.S. military.  News "leaked" Friday of a Marine being added to the growing class of Medal of Honor recipients.  I wonder......just, it will be interesting in the coming months to see if additional names will be added to that select group.  The deserving ones and not ones for political gain.  However, that will be a discussion for another time.  For now, we give you the newest inductee into that hallowed class......

WASHINGTON--President Obama will present the Medal of Honor to Kentucky-native Dakota Meyer, who will be the third living person and the first Marine to receive the commendation for actions in Iraq and Afghanistan, the White House announced Friday.

Meyer, a former active-duty Marine Corps Corporal, will receive the Medal of Honor on Sept. 15 for his courageous actions while serving in Afghanistan in 2009, the White House said.
Meyer, 23, enlisted in the United States Marine Corps in 2006 and served in both Iraq and Afghanistan. According to the Marine Corps Times, Meyer repeatedly braved enemy fire while trying to save fellow members of his embedded training team during an attack in eastern Afghanistan.  His other military decorations include a Purple Heart.

According to the White House statement, the requirements for a Medal of Honor "must involve great personal bravery or self-sacrifice so conspicuous as to clearly distinguish the individual above his or her comrades and must have involved risk of life."

Did Corporal Meyer (left) envision a growing Medal of Honor class?

"I feel the furthest thing from a hero," Meyer said in a past interview with the Marine Corps Times. "I went in there to do a job and the way I viewed it is that I let those guys down."  Meyer's story is one of extreme heroism and bravery, but unlike the stories behind the only other two living medal of honor recipients from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, his does not have as much of a happy ending. Meyer and his fellow service members were able to recover the bodies of their comrades, but they were unable to save their lives.  "The award would be for them and for the corps ... and for Marines that didn't get recognized because there wasn't enough witnesses," Meyer added. That's what it would be for."

Meyer completed his active duty commitment in 2010 and now serves in the Marine Corps Inactive Ready Reserve as a sergeant. In the Marine Corps Times interview, he says it's still very difficult to talk about the events of that September day in Afghanistan. He will attend the White House ceremony with his family.

News that Meyer would receive the Medal of Honor was leaked to the media last month, causing some frustration in the White House, which typically is the first to announce such honors.

How many more stories from the Iraq and Afghanistan War are deserving of recognition?  Far, far, far too many. I'm sure.  I'm amazed that only three have been recognized thus far.  My gosh, where does it start and where does it stop?  Let me throw one out to you.

 In late May of 2011 two Chinook helicopters dropped into the Afghan town of Do Ab.  On board were some 42 American and 18 Afghan National soldiers.  As the two helicopters touched soil they began taking fire.....completely surrounded.  By the Grace of God, not only were the soldiers able to disembark safely, but when the seven-hour firefight ended more than 250 Taliban had been killed and not one....NOT ONE......of the soldiers on those two copters were wounded.  NO ONE WAS WOUNDED.  I can't get my noggin around that thought.  I know there are a million stories to sort through in determining a Medal of Honor recipient.  But someone in that battle would appear to be deserving....WOULDN'T THEY?



Thursday, August 11, 2011


There hasn't been a whole lot of Good News lately, has there?  Our economy is going in the crapper (again!)...there is rioting in the United Kingdom.....President Obama's confidence level is bordering on 75% (that would be lack of confidence) and most certainly the deaths of 38 military personnel whose Chinook CH-47 helicopter was shot down last Saturday in Afghanistan. 

When All Hope is Lost....There Remains "Good News"

Then came this news report yesterday:  "After the worst single incident in 10 years of war in Afghanistan, some justice has been dealt.  An air strike by NATO-led forces in Afghanistan killed Taliban fighters, including local leader Mullah Mohibullah, who were responsible for last weekend's helicopter crash that killed 38 troops.  The military reportedly tracked the Taliban fighters for several days after the helicopter was downed". 

The story suggested "some justice" had been dealt.  That's debatable.  I have to ask this....   Why were the lives risked of the 38 on board the Chinook helicopter when they could have used an air strike to begin with?  Weren't they tracking these insurgents beforehand?  There is some news here....but frankly, I'm left with more questions than answers.  If you are a relative of one of those killed, is that GOOD news?  Imagine being a loved one of those 38.   Picture yourself having escaped, so to speak, to a quiet, remote area in the United States to reflect on life and death and everything in between.  And this happens.......

 The gray-haired man sat quietly fishing off the dock at a small Minnesota lake on a cloudy August afternoon.   We exchanged greetings.  I would have moved on had he not spoken softly, "I come here to think about the Bible, God's Word".

I felt drawn to talk with him, and I learned he had been an officer in the South Vietnamese army during the Vietnam War.  Twice he'd been injured by land mines.  Fragments of shrapnel in his arm still caused him pain.

At war's end, he was thrown in jail by the North Vietnamese regime.  He endured horrendous conditions for ten years.  Often there was no food or medicine.  Many of his fellow prisoners died.

Upon his release, he returned home to what little family he had left.  He felt empty inside and without hope.  Then he read two words on a sign displayed outside a church--"Good News".  He didn't know what the Good News was, but he knew that he needed it. 

He went alone to the church the next Sunday and heard the good news of Jesus Christ.  The faith he found that day eventually led him to a pastor in a Vietnamese congregation in the United States. 

I'd walked out on the dock that day feeling alone and discouraged.  God used a fisherman to remind me that the Good News is never old news. 

Jesus, no matter what other news clutters our day, it's always a Good News day with you". 
-taken from Daily Guideposts for Military Families.

Looking for some Good News are you?  Then look no further.  The answers, the direction, the reason for Hope despite all the BAD NEWS there is, lies in God's Word.  Search the Bible for your answers.  There you will find one amazing story after another, much like this.....

"When he returned to Capernaum after some days, it was reported that he was at home. So many gathered around that there was no longer room for them, not even in front of the door; and he was speaking the word to them. Then some people came, bringing to him a paralyzed man, carried by four of them. And when they could not bring him to Jesus because of the crowd, they removed the roof above him; and after having dug through it, they let down the mat on which the paralytic lay. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, "Son, your sins are forgiven." Now some of the scribes were sitting there, questioning in their hearts, "Why does this fellow speak in this way? It is blasphemy! Who can forgive sins but God alone?" At once Jesus perceived in his spirit that they were discussing these questions among themselves; and he said to them, "Why do you raise such questions in your hearts? Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, 'Your sins are forgiven,' or to say, 'Stand up and take your mat and walk'? But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins"--he said to the paralytic-- "I say to you, stand up, take your mat and go to your home." And he stood up, and immediately took the mat and went out before all of them; so that they were all amazed and glorified God, saying, "We have never seen anything like this!"-Mark 2:1-12



Monday, August 8, 2011


Let's get down right personal, can we?  What are you praying about today?  Are you praying for that new job that will bring you more money and prestige?  Or perhaps your prayer request has to do with a new home or car or luxury item.  Or maybe your prayers have something to do about bringing that right person into your that could be a life partner.

Can you see any similarities in the three mentions I just made?  Without sounding judgmental, they all have to do about you.  I wouldn't even call them selfish per see.  But it does beckon what's on your mind these days.....self or others.  Here is what I mean. This past Saturday came some disheartening news regarding our troops on the ground in the Middle East.  

"A Chinook CH-47 helicopter was shot down by Afghan insurgents as it was rushing to aid troops in a firefight, killing 38 people, including 30 Americans.  Of those 30, 22 were Navy SEALs, most of whom belonged to Team 6, the unit whose members were involved in the raid that killed Osama bin Laden, U.S. officials said.  The reporting of the military casualties represented the highest number of American military casualties recorded in a single incident in the decade-long war".

A Chinook CH-47 transport helicopter similar to the one shot down killing all on board
"The Chinook helicopter was carrying a quick-reaction force to provide back-up to the troops on the ground in the eastern Afghan province of Wardak, a U.S. official said. After the crash, the forces that were involved in the firefight "broke contact" with the enemy so they could go provide perimeter security for the crash site, the official said"

A week ago Saturday, the last of the 2,800 Iowa National Guard troops returned home.  With that great news and relief came some other things, most notably forgetfulness.  Think back to when Abraham was leading the Israelites across the Red Sea.  After God showed his mighty power and rebelled the sea what did his Chosen people do?

"He saved them from the hand of the foe;
from the hand of the enemy he redeemed them,
The waters covered their adversaries;
not one of them survived.
Then they believed his promises
and sang his praise.
But they soon forgot what he had done
and did not wait for his counsel".-Psalms 105:10-13

Have we forgotten what God has done now that are Iowa troops are home safely?  I think least to some degree.  What are your prayers today?  Does your prayer list have the soldiers and families on it....those that are trying to reintegrate into our "normal" Iowa world?   Are they for the safety of those troops (Oklahoma Guardsman)  that replaced our Iowa contingent?  Do we think about the replacements and the dangers they are encountering?  We just came from there.....we just crossed the Red Sea, so to speak.  Have we forgotten?  Are we in prayer for those soldiers?  Are you continuing to uplift all the troops around the world  who continue to fight for our freedoms?   

Last Saturday marked the worst day in U.S. military history in our ten years in Afghanistan.  The WORST.  Are we home free?  Will we ever be home free?  I ask you these questions to offer some changes to your prayer life.  You'll never see God's blessings like you could, if you don't pray for others.  After all, God uses the BLEAKEST day to deliver his gifts.  These days, I think, would qualify.



Friday, August 5, 2011


We live in a World that is often confusing.  Like the times when we want to take something good and make it less than....

When we want others to fall so that we can someway be bigger, more important or more believable.  But it's TRUTH that will win out in the end.  So if you've ever questioned yourself in staying the course, it's stories like the one I'm about to share with you, that I hope will continue to give you encouragement.  Meet Michael Monsoor, via Wikipedia.   

Michael Anthony Monsoor (April 5, 1981 – September 29, 2006) was a U.S. Navy Seal killed during the Iraq War and posthumously received the Medal of Honor.   Monsoor enlisted in the United States Navy in 2001 and graduated from Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL training in 2004. After further training he was assigned to Delta Platoon, SEAL Team Three.

Delta Platoon was sent to Iraq in April 2006 and assigned to train Iraqi Army soldiers in Ramadi. Over the next five months, Monsoor and his platoon frequently engaged in combat with insurgent forces. On September 29, 2006 an insurgent threw a grenade onto a rooftop where Monsoor and several other SEAL and Iraqi soldiers were positioned. Monsoor quickly smothered the grenade with his body, absorbing the resulting explosion and saving his comrades from serious injury or death. Monsoor died 30 minutes later from serious wounds caused by the grenade explosion.

On March 31, 2008, the United States Depatment of Defense confirmed that Michael Monsoor would posthumously receive the Medal of Honor from the President of the United States, George W. Bush. Bush presented the medal to Monsoor's parents on April 8, 2008. In October 2008, United States Secretary of the Navy Donald C Winter announced that DDG-1001, the second ship in the Zumwalt class of destroyers, would be named Michael Monso

A fitting honor for a hero, you might say.  But that's not the end of the story.  Now, let me share with you some visual images of Monsoor. 

Did you notice the tears streaming down the cheek of President George W. Bush?  During the Medal of Honor reception, our Commander in Chief was visibly moved by the act of heroism of this young man.  Fact of hoax?  The answer to that question is rather simple...

Now, here is where the Monsoor story becomes even more interesting.  During the ceremony at the cemetery, 45 Navy Seals presented their Trident Medals and attached them to the Rosewood casket.  As you no doubt saw, the medal was placed on the casket top and then slapped into place.  The image of 45 Trident Medals aligned in several rows provided a lasting memory.     

Not so fast say some....

You can't get such alignment...." Well, I probably couldn't.

I've learned that there's a story going around that a photo of tridents on Monsoor's coffin are a sort of hoax:

"While the report is true the pic is obviously a hoax.

"1# You can't get such alignment by slapping badges on a coffin as it passes by.

"2# A National Cemetery and not one Government headstone in site.

"#3 Plastic flowers hummmm I don't believe they are allowed in National Cemeteries. I have never seen any in the many National Cemeteries I have visited."
(Armchair General and HistoryNet discussion thread (July 22, 2008

A Hoax?  You Decide.....

Frankly, I find these comments insulting.  As should you, I hope.  How can we take something so pure and make it something else, I'll never know.  Believe what you want to about Michael Monsoor.  Share his story with others.  And if you disagree with what I've written here, that's fine, share it anyway.  Because in the end, the TRUTH is..... 



Monday, August 1, 2011


As the 2,800 Iowa National Guard soldiers and their families begin their post-deployment lives we need to become active in our thoughts and actions in ways our communities can come alongside and provide support.  Today, I'm not quite sure what that will look like, but I do know we need to now, more than ever, pray for the road we are about to embark on.  

"Happy is the nation whose God is the LORD, the people whom he has chosen as his heritage.
The LORD looks down from heaven; he sees all humankind.
From where he sits enthroned he watches all the inhabitants of the earth--
he who fashions the hearts of them all, and observes all their deeds.
A king is not saved by his great army; a warrior is not delivered by his great strength.
The war horse is a vain hope for victory, and by its great might it cannot save.
Truly the eye of the LORD is on those who fear him, on those who hope in his steadfast love,
to deliver their soul from death, and to keep them alive in famine".-Psalm 33:12-19

This past week has provided me an opportunity to see God at work.  I've seen people with little association with the National Guard wanting to come alongside and help.  If I haven't told you before, our church, Lutheran Church of Hope in West Des Moines is bringing a satellite church to the Johnston-Grimes, Iowa area.  The "start-up" missions team of the church feels a calling to support Camp Dodge and the soldiers which is right down the street.  Ironic, huh?  Now realize, the church is not even scheduled to open its doors until early Fall.....but God has placed the need of these soldiers and families at their feet and they are moving.  In the coming weeks, the Johnston-Grimes group is hopeful of sharing some pretty special things....stay tuned.     

If you have any ideas that you'd like to share on the subject of support feel free to connect with me at   Maybe you'd like to put something together for your community and you are inquisitive...that would be cool. I mentioned in the headline, "The Battle Lines Are Redrawn".  It's time to earnestly pray for the soldiers, their families and God's direction in providing HOPE.

Is there a mission awaiting you on this earth?

A little over nine months ago, we launched, "My Father's Voice".  Today, I had a visitor from Tunisia, which marked the 98th country to check us out.  The reason I am saying this is, according to "Google", there are now 196 countries in the World.  So, that means that we've reached the half-way mark!!!!  Here is a list of the countries that have hit the blog. 

Cayman Islands
Costa Rica
Czech Republic
Hong Kong
Macedonia (FYROM)
New Caledonia
New Zealand
Netherlands Antilles
Puerto Rico
Saudi Arabia
South Africa
South Korea
Sri Lanka
Trinidad and Tobago
United Arab Emirates
United Kingdom
United States