The Bus Stop is a series of true stories about my life, people I've worked with and events I've experienced. Of course the names have been changed. I hope these stories will brighten your day with a few laughs as well as give you encouragement. Hopefully you can avoid making some of the mistakes I've made and if you have already made them, then you can identify with me.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009


Some of you may have seen the movie Shawshank Redemption with Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman. This was a movie about men that were doing time in prison. Several of these men were in prison for many years. After so many years a man would become “institutionalized” which meant he would be so acquainted and familiar with the prison that he would have a difficult time adjusting to living in the real world.

When your day consists of someone telling you when to: get up, eat, exercise and when to go to bed, you slowly become incapable to think for yourself. When someone was released from prison, they would wonder aimlessly about not knowing what to do. Some would commit suicide and others would commit another crime (sometimes intentionally) to be sent back.

In a distorted sort of way, they were in their “Comfort Zone.” A place so familiar, it was difficult and sometimes impossible to leave, even if “freedom” awaited them on the other side.

My pastor made a comment the other day about how we have become institutionalized in our churches. We’ve lost the ability to think and do for ourselves and have become the proverbial pew sitters. We have allowed others to do our thinking for us and forgot we have the ability to think for ourselves.

I’m not inferring that we cannot learn from others, but today we find ourselves not making a move until we are given direction by man; never exercising our freedom to make a choice that moves us out of the familiar “Comfort Zone.” On the rare occasion that we are able to “uninsitutionalize” ourselves, then we often move from one comfort zone to another. For example, we say we want to move out of the traditional church; and then move from one tradition to another. Ever since some particular churches have discovered the New Way most churches have followed suit in the new tradition. I may catch some flack over this statement, but as I said, this is the way I feel.

The foremost authority is God’s Word, the Bible. This is what we truly need to be following. We need to follow what the Word says and not interpret it to fit our lifestyle. Sin is still sin and if we indulge in sin then we will find ourselves back in prison. We will not be inmates, but guest and not fitting in either place.

As it says in Romans 6:1,2 “What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?” The new age Christian sometimes believes since we are under grace it means we can do whatever we want to do. Can we sin now that we’re under grace? Paul says No! This is far from what this means and if we sin we will find ourselves right back in the prison of guilt and shame. We may even try to convince others that a certain sin is ok and if we convince enough maybe we won’t feel guilty.

Many times we want to go back to the prison because this is where we have always felt comfortable and accepted. Just like the Israelites wanted to go back to Egypt, we forget how horrible and miserable that place was for us.

I personally have had to break out of old beliefs and the many ways I have been institutionalized. I’ve had to learn to think for myself and let God teach me the real truth. God’s word doesn’t contradict itself! I’ve found all kinds of contradictions when I followed after certain men. I know what I think doesn’t really matter unless it is line with what God says.

Let this challenge you “study and show yourself approved.” As said in 2 Timothy 2:15, NIV Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The Bubble

Years ago, I heard a story about a King in search of peace. He sent word throughout the land asking the scholars, poets and artist to describe peace. Some had beautiful stories, some had beautiful paintings and there were some with poetry, but still he did not see peace in any of these descriptions. This went on for awhile until he saw one artist’s painting that intrigued him. This was a painting of a terrible thunderstorm with lightning flashing and pouring rain. However, he noticed there was a mother bird in a cleft of the rock on the side of the mountain. Under the mother’s wing was a tiny bird safe and secure. He said, “This is it. This is the most realistic depiction of peace.”

“Peace” is about perspective.

Are you the mother bird, or the baby bird?

If you are searching for peace that is absent of conflict and struggles, then “Good luck!” because it doesn’t exist. You can try, but you will find yourself in avoidance and denial because, “In this world, we will have troubles.” So how are we to find peace with so much turmoil and confusion all around us? The employment rate is down, the stock market keeps falling, divorce is on the rise, struggles at work, heart ripping stories are everywhere, struggles in marriage and other relationships …you can fill in your hurts here ____________________________.

“Peace” is not just the absence of conflict.

Are you living through troubled times?

Last week, a lady asked me to describe peace. What did peace look like to me? I really struggled with the answer because at the time I didn’t know. All I knew was I wanted peace and the only way I could describe peace was by looking back 6-weeks ago when I was dead. For 20-minutes, my heart stopped beating. To me that was peace. No more struggles, decisions, fears or responsibilities. At the time, I could not see how I could have peace in this world full of uncertainties and problems. But, God promises peace, a peace that “surpasses all understanding.”

Maybe it’s just me? But I still struggled to see a picture of peace in a world full of turmoil. Then in one of those God-moments, He gave me an incredible (yet simple view) of the bubble. The bubble?

“Peace” is about proximity to God.

Are you in the bubble or outside of the bubble?

Suppose you were able to live in an impenetrable sphere of some sort and had total and complete safety. No one could force their way into this sphere no matter how hard they tried. Bullets, bombs, even atomic bombs, tornadoes, hurricanes, cold, heat or any other forces of man or nature couldn’t even begin to penetrate this sphere. Would you feel safe? Would you finally find peace? Probably not. We were created to be in relationship with others and an impenetrable sphere would merely be a prison for one. You see, while nothing can get in, nothing can get out either.

Then God explained to me (in my finite understanding) a picture of peace from within “The Bubble.” As long as I trust Him and hold tightly to His promise, I am protected in His bubble of peace. “Draw near to me and I will draw near to you.” We have to take the first step to move close to God. This bubble doesn’t exist outside of you, but around your heart. He does not guarantee that pain will not come. But, He said, “I am in this with you and give you the “grace and power” to handle whatever comes your way.” Aha! I got it.

That’s what makes peace so incomprehensible, so indescribable. Peace is not the absence of war. The opposite if peace is slavery. Are you a slave to all the garbage outside of the circle as we are so often taught, but the experience of being close to God in the circle even when life is a raging storm. It’s the settled heart of the baby bird under the protective wing of the momma bird. Are you in the bubble?

Thursday, January 15, 2009


Many years ago I heard a short story, “There was a small bird that had fallen from its nest and was out in the cold on the ground. It chirped and chirped until finally a cow saw the small bird and took pity on it and dump a warm cow pie on him to keep him warm. The bird kept on chirping until a wolf heard him and came to his aid. The wolf saw the bird and pulled him out of the cow pie, cleaned him off and the little bird was very happy until the wolf ate him.”

The moral of the story is, when you feel that people are dumping on you doesn’t necessarily mean they’re trying to hurt you and when someone comes along to help you out doesn’t necessarily mean they are trying to help you, but destroy you. Also, when you’re up to your neck in cow dung, keep you mouth shut.

I know that most of you have heard this old story, but I thought it was good to prove my point. Many times we feel that life is unfair and dumps all over us. Even when we look at one circumstance we deduce we are here for no other reason than to suffer.

How many times have our children thought we were being unfair to them when we had their best interest at heart and we were just trying to help them and protect them? Still we heard the tantrums and threats even though we knew we were doing what was best. Teens enjoy your life now because this is the smartest you’re ever going to be. As you get older and wiser you’ll come to the realization you are not as clever as you thought you were.

I can almost hear you parents now agreeing, yeah…yeah, even though it hasn’t been that long since you believed the same thing. In fact, how many times have you attempted to tell God the best way to handle your life because you thought you knew more than He did? Oh, you may not say it out loud, but it has been in the back of your thoughts.

It doesn’t take long if you look around and see there is always someone in a worse position than you. I do not intend to minimize your suffering and that’s not my intent. I’m encouraging you to not become focused on you, but to take a moment to look around. We are all in this together.

Because of our past we develop our own perspective of life and those around us.Our goal should be to overcome our perspective and start looking at life from God’s point of view. In other words, looking through His eyes and see the truth. Many think your problems and struggles are too great for God to handle…”You’re Doomed” It’s time to get some new perspective.

The photo above was taken by Voyager 1 in 1990 as it sailed away from Earth, more than 4 billion miles in the distance. Having completed its primary mission, Voyager at that time was on its way out of the Solar System, on a trajectory of approximately 32 degrees above the plane of the Solar System. Ground Control issued commands for the distant space craft to turn around and, looking back, take photos of each of the planets it had visited. From Voyager's vast distance, the Earth was captured as an infinitesimal point of light (between the two white tick marks), actually smaller than a single pixel of the photo.

Here are a few remarks made by Dr. Carl Sagan I found very interesting.

"We succeeded in taking that picture [from deep space], and, if you look at it, you see a dot. That's here. That's home. That's us. On it, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever lived, lived out their lives. The aggregate of all our joys and sufferings, thousands of confident religions, ideologies and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilizations, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every hopeful child, every mother and father, every inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every superstar, every supreme leader, every saint and sinner in the history of our species, lived there on a mote of dust, suspended in a sunbeam.

The earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that in glory and in triumph they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of the dot on scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner of the dot. How frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds. Our posturing, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity -- in all this vastness -- there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves. It is up to us. It's been said that astronomy is a humbling, and I might add, a character-building experience. To my mind, there is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly and compassionately with one another and to preserve and cherish that pale blue dot, the only home we've ever known." Carl Sagan

The real question is, do you serve a BIG GOD or do you have one in your pocket you pull out only in times of need or greed. We serve a BIG GOD that created the Pale Blue Dot and the entire universe. This is the perspective we need. Even if we live to be 100 years old that is only a grain of sand compared to eternity. Do you know where you’ll spend eternity?

It doesn’t matter how much we accumulate while we’re here because we’re going to leave it all behind. Many years ago I heard the only thing you can take to heaven with you is your children and hopefully some of your friends and strangers.

When I look at that Pale Blue Dot I can’t help but wonder why God created you and me. He didn’t ever need us, but He wanted us and that’s saying even more. Many of us go to mechanics and use certain plumbers or doctors because of their reputations. There are many of these people out there to serve us, but we choose those we want. There is a much greater blessing of being chosen than being needed.

Once you get a real glimpse of God everything starts falling into the right perspective.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

No Regrets

There are those who have said nothing yet. But, there have been a few inquiring minds (mostly my relatives) who have asked me, "What was it like to be dead for 20 minutes?" Was there a bright light? Did you see Jesus, did you see the pearly gates or did He send you back with a special message? I would have to say, "No" to all these things. I didn’t even know that I had died until my wife told me. So, what was it like? It was like... nothing.

At first this shook me and my faith a little. Why didn’t I see anything? Why didn’t I get that “message” from God? Probably, because He knew I wouldn’t have remembered it anyway. I learned this was a test of my faith. Many of you are thinking the same thing right now. "Do you really believe?" When I visited the cardiologist in the past, he said I always had a faint heartbeat. So, technically I may not have really really died. I was just asleep for awhile. And, when all is said and done, I still believe, seen or unseen, in a sovereign God.

The one thing that hit me several weeks later was I had “No Regrets.” It feels really good to say that. I would have been totally satisfied with dying when I did because, I had no regrets. There wasn’t one more thing I had to do. There wasn’t a person I had to tell them I loved them one more time. There were no goals out there that couldn’t be left undone. There wasn’t a person I needed to forgive. I have to say I was completely satisfied with where my life had gone and what I was doing at the time.

Are you there yet? Are you satisfied with where you are at in your life? This is not a matter of perfection, but a matter of doing your best with what you have. This is the fourth agreement in Don Miguel Ruiz’s book, “The Four Agreements.” Don’t worry about how you rate or compared to others, but are you doing YOUR best?

During this episode in my life it has taught me that I have many friends. I thank all of you for your comments, well wishes and prayers. I learned today that I had between 5000 – 10,000 people praying for me. Wow! All the food, phone calls and visits with all of you showing your concern was overwhelming. Naturally, I enjoyed the attention and someone said I would go to any lengths to get it. As great as it all has been I learned that I get more joy from giving than receiving.

Presently, I am still sore and I hurt often. I am going to rehab to help me with my speech and memory. I’ve already told them to just get me back to normal, and not to worry about making me better. They have no idea what they are in for!

I have a special thanks to Elisa for setting up the get well Garry blog and for her and Dana for doing so much behind the scenes stuff for me and Karen.