Posts Tagged "family"

The Right Thing – Joel Ericson

Posted by on Apr 13, 2015 in Blog | 0 comments

The Right Thing – Joel Ericson

Off on a business trip some eight years ago I was eating dinner in a family restaurant I cannot recall. As I was finishing up I saw a nice young family come in; a young couple with two small children. By their actions I could see that this was not their usual routine. I could also see the unmistakable signs of distress, as the wife was wearing the head scarf, concealing baldness, and the pallor, a little more pale than the rest told me that she was battling cancer.

I considered them for a long time since I knew what it was like to be in that situation. I wanted to go over to them and offer an encouraging word, or pray over them, or maybe pay for their dinner…or something. Unfortunately while I allowed MY heart to ache a little and whispered a little prayer to MYSELF, I quietly paid my check and moved on. I was soon so convicted by my failure to act that I went back to that restaurant to try to make amends, but they were gone. I have not forgotten that family to this day. Fortunately God has used this to educate me in several ways because as I continue to read scripture; it keeps coming up.

“So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.” James 4:17

 There are so many small things I should have done to lighten their burden; just a little but I really did nothing. Appropriately I was saddened and ashamed and have vowed to not make that same kind of mistake.

Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’  Matthew 25:34-40

On the Judgment Day I want to be standing on the right… And finally I have tried my best to heed Jesus’ warning:

Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven. “Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. “  Matthew 6:1-4

This incident did not perfect me. I am still a sinner; too selfish, too forgetful of God’s teachings, to arrogant and unforgiving. By some strange coincidence however, often as I fall into each of these traps, I am reminded of that nice young family in that restaurant and am humbled to know that Jesus bore much greater burdens for my sake and I am once again resolved to learn from my failings.

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Give Thanks – Cassi Piper

Posted by on Dec 2, 2013 in Blog | 0 comments

Give Thanks – Cassi Piper

Our family has been known to have some unusual holiday traditions and Thanksgiving is no exception. Most every year while I was growing up my family would make the four hour road trip to Ames, Iowa where my mom’s brother and his family lived. We would usually head down Thanksgiving morning and by Thursday evening our rituals would begin.

First, my cousin and I would make our famous cheese ball (many years back my aunt found the recipe in a Reader’s Digest magazine, but we still claim it as ours). Then my uncle would whip up all the fixings for nachos. Yep, nachos. Not a turkey in sight, at least, not yet. You see my aunt is a nurse and until she built up seniority at her clinic she always had to work Thanksgiving. So, not wanting to have turkey without her we were forced to come up with some alternative traditions.

First the cheese ball, then nachos, then a night filled with Chevy Chase’s Christmas VacationA Christmas Story and the original Pink Panther movies. Perhaps we might play a game of Life in the meantime. Bedtime was us kids passed out all over the house wherever there was room. Good times indeed.

Then on Friday when my aunt was home we prepared the traditional Thanksgiving feast. My brother would hoard the pan of twice-baked potatoes. My cousin would steal all the rolls. We all skipped the cranberry sauce and over time we learned to like Chinese salad. If Grandma was there we had Watergate salad and then pie, glorious pie! Dinner began with my uncle praying over the meal and then going around the table, each person sharing what they were thankful for.

Now we are older and some of my cousins have married and have kids. My brother hit college and realized Thanksgiving is actually on Thursday and not Friday (it was quite a traumatic realization!). We are now spread out all over the country and it is tough to get us all in one place. Some of our quirky traditions have gone by the wayside and yet others remain (still gotta have that cheese ball!), but the essence of Thanksgiving, wherever life finds us, remains the same.

We are a family blessed by God. Blessed to live where we do, to have the resources we do, to have the health we do, to have the support we do, and most importantly, to serve the God we do. It is overwhelming at times to think of all that we have and humbling to be convicted of how little time I take to thank God throughout the year. Thanksgiving is a reminder to us as Americans, but most importantly to us as Christ followers that we need to be a people of thanks.

It is my prayer this week that wherever we are and whatever our holiday traditions might be that we will be a people who genuinely and earnestly give thanks where thanks is due. Our God is an awesome God and we are people awesomely blessed. May we live in constant thanksgiving all year round!

“… Give thanks in all circumstance; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”  1 Thessalonians 5:18 (NIV)


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Our Mountain – Cassi Piper

Posted by on Jun 25, 2013 in Blog | 0 comments

Our Mountain – Cassi Piper

I recently attended a memorial service for my dear friend’s father who passed away. It was a wonderful opportunity for me to hear about a man whom I hadn’t the honor of meeting but had heard so much about. There was laughter and tears and healing as we all heard stories about his life and family.

The most moving part for me was when my friend described her relationship with her father and what it meant to her. When she was young her father seemed to her a towering figure, one that evoked awe and intimidation in her heart. Though an emotionally distant man, he loved the Colorado mountains where my friend’s family spent her early years and her most favorite memories are of hiking and camping with her dad in the foothills.

As she grew older my friend began to make earnest attempts to understand her father, a man who had served in the Vietnam War and whose outlook on life had hardened as a result of what he had experienced there. She appreciated his strong work ethic, something he passed down to her and her siblings and discovered that he loved his family dearly even if at times he struggled to show it. Over time she no longer saw his strength as intimidating, but rather a source of refuge as she faced the many storms of life.

She likened her growing relationship with her father as one gets to know a mountain. At first the mountain looms over you, tall, ominous and seemingly insurmountable. Then you gather the courage to camp at its base and though you still find it mysterious and at times terrifying, you begin to appreciate the breadth of the mountain’s strength and beauty. Eventually you begin taking risks, first hiking the well worn foot trails, and then making paths of your own. With each new step you gain a greater sense of exploration and discovery that after many years finds you at the summit, surrounded by views that take your breath away. It is at that moment that the mountain becomes your mountain.

Towards the end of his life, after many years of investing in their relationship, my friend was grateful to say that her dad had become her mountain. He no longer was a distant man to her but a loving, supportive and generous friend.

It is my hope that as we invest in our relationship with God that one day we too will reach the summit of His love and claim him as our God. That we will be willing to take risks in obedience and faith and venture further into His understanding than we ever have before. That He will become our true source of refuge and strength as we face times of trial. Then one day when we meet Him face to face it will be like getting together with a cherished friend who never left our side.

And to Mandy, in your time of great loss, know that you are one of my mountains and it is an honor to call you friend. You are immensely loved by your Heavenly Father and I know that He is taking special care of your daddy until you meet again.

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Good Leadership – Pastor Mark

Posted by on May 21, 2013 in Blog | 0 comments

Good Leadership – Pastor Mark

I have watched many leaders over the course of my life.  I have been fascinated with some who have impressed me with their ability to lead.  I have been angered with some who have used their positions for illegal and unjust gain.  I have been unimpressed with others who have used their ‘few moments in the sun’ to accomplish their own personal agendas.

Personally, I have had the privilege of being trained by good leaders who taught me the importance of listening to the people I lead.  Over and over I heard that my position was not a gift to be used as I saw fit, but a public trust.  I have learned many of my leadership lessons the hard way, by making mistakes.   For example, I have learned that just because my closest friends agree with me about a decision is not an indication this is the direction to go.

I am reminded this week of the point in Israel’s history when the new king Rehoboam was asked by the people to lighten the load that had placed on them by his father, Solomon.  Rehoboam did not give an immediate answer.  He first listened to the elders.  Their advice was, “If today you will be a servant to these people and serve them and give them a favorable answer, they will always be your servants.”  (1 Kings 12:7)

But Rehoboam rejected their advice and consulted the young men who had grown up with him.  These advisors said, in essence, “Tell these lazy people they haven’t seen anything yet!”  His choice to go with the advice of foolish advisors led to rebellion and to the ultimate division of the kingdom.

For all leaders it is important to remember that every decision comes with a corresponding consequence.  Whether you are leading a family, a company, a ministry or a state, it is necessary to choose your battles wisely.  It is possible to win a battle but lose the war.

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