Wishing for Another World


A few days ago I asked my Facebook friends to name books or movies in which the main characters travel, by any means, to another world.  And they did not dissapoint!!  The Chronicles of Narnia, Alice in Wonderland, The Wizard of Oz, Peter Pan, Harry Potter, The Neverending Story, just to name a few!  Some of the most popular works of all time!  Technically speaking, I was only asking different worlds – alternate universes – but if you expand the list to include time travel in this world, the list grows even longer (see full list below).  I mean, how else could we get Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure on there?!

It’s fascinating to me that so many popular books and movies focus on this theme. The creator of Narnia, C.S. Lewis, once said,

“I have found a desire within myself that no experience in this world can satisfy;
the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.”

And the book of Ecclesiastes tells us that God “has put eternity into man’s heart.”  We were created with this longing that can only be satisfied by spending eternity in heaven with our Abba Father!  It’s in our very DNA (even if we don’t realize it) and it leaks out all over the place.  We were created for eternity, and bound by time… for now.

I sincerely believe ‘other-worldly travel’ is such a common theme in books and movies because writers and directors all experience this longing deep down inside.  It fills their dreams and fires their imagination.  Consequently, their created works become so popular because they strike a chord with every reader and every viewer.  We’re entertained by the thoughts of another world, because it reminds us in some small way that we were created for more than this.  There’s another world on the other side of death.  “For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face.” -1 Corinthians 13:12

Just something I’ve been thinking about…  By the way, did you realize that every human being will live for eternity?  That’s right.  Gandalf was correct when he said, “Death is just another journey. One that we all must take.”  There is life after death in another place, but the choices we make here on earth will determine which place that will be – Heaven or Hell.  If you haven’t already, place your faith in Jesus Christ.  He is the only way you can get to heaven when you walk through the wardrobe of death.  Before you read any of the other books listed here, pick up a Bible and read the book of John.  It’s a great place to start.

Here’s the full list from my Facebook friends:

Disclaimer: I’m not familiar with everything listed (not even half), so I can’t be sure that all of these works fall under our theme of other-worldly travel or time travel, but it gives me a great list of books and movies to check out in the near future!

100 Cupboards – Book by N.D. Wilson
Alice in Wonderland
Aladdin (A Whole New World.. right?)
The Ancient One
Avatar (James Cameron’s… not the Last Airbender… although that may fit…)
Back to the Future
Bedknobs and Broomsticks
Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure (party on, dudes!)
Bridge to Terabithia
Children of the Shaft by Richard Gunther
The Chronicles of Narnia (everybody has read this, right?)
The Circle Trilogy by Ted Dekker (if you don’t read anything else here, read this)
Deathgate Cycle
Doctor Who
Dragon Tales
Enders Game
The Expanse
Flowers in the Attic
Gulliver’s Travels
Harry Potter
John Carter
Jupiter Rising
Land of the Giants
The Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles
The Magic Treehouse
Mary Poppins (a personal favorite in my Top 10 movies… maybe Top 5)
Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood (never would have thought of this one)
The Neverending Story
Peter Pan
Star Trek 5
Star Wars (the force is strong with this one)
The Summer Tree
The Sword of Truth series
Tennis Shoe Among the Nephites
The Time Machine
Water Babies
Watchers in the Woods
Where the Wild Things Are
The Wizard of Oz
Wrinkle in Time
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Posted by on April 20, 2016 in Personal


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Away for Too Long

Has it really been two months since I’ve posted anything to this blog?  I logged in this morning to put a few words on a page and was shocked to find that I haven’t posted anything since Christmas!  Of course, I have had a few other outlets; other places to write and share the thoughts running through my head, but I still couldn’t believe it had been that long.  I do have several things brewing and two rough drafts that will be posts soon, so you won’t have to wait much longer to read more of my musings and inspirational / inane babble.

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Posted by on March 4, 2016 in Uncategorized


Christmas Carol Puzzles

I love puzzles of all kinds.  Jigsaw puzzles, word searches, crosswords, brain teasers, child-proof lids, etc.  I also love Christmas music!  So I’ve put together these fun Christmas Puzzles for your enjoyment during the holiday season.  They’re a great way to pass the time at your family Christmas party while you’re waiting on cousin Eddie to park his RV, or a fun group activity at this year’s church or business luncheon.  You can print them out as individual sheets, or print them front and back like we did this year and use both at the same time.


The Christmas Carol PuzzleChristmas_Carol_Puzzle

This puzzle dates back to the 70’s and my version is a modification of the original.  You can find out more about the origin and history of this groovy puzzle here.

Christmas Carol Puzzle PDF – Questions

Christmas Carol Puzzle PDF – Answers


Christmas Carol TriviaChristmas_Carol_Trivia

Here are 25 questions based on popular Christmas songs, both secular and sacred.  Have fun!!

Christmas Carol Trivia PDF – Questions

Christmas Carol Trivia PDF – Answers






A Christmas QuizChristmas_Quiz

When she found out about my little collection, a good friend sent me this 20 question quiz that she had in her files.  Can you separate Christmas Fact from Christmas fiction?  Some good questions here!  Enjoy!!

Christmas Quiz PDF – Questions

Christmas Quiz PDF – Answers

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Posted by on December 14, 2015 in Personal


Living in Tension

He was forced to leave his home along with his parents because of civil unrest in his native country. The President had called for a genocide against his people and it just wasn’t safe for them any longer. His refugee family found shelter in Egypt for a few years, then returned to the Middle East after the President’s death. He worked in his dad’s shop before becoming a preacher at the age of 30. Shortly after his ministry began, he was sentenced to death by the government, even though he was completely and totally innocent.


International Harvest Festival – World Relief, Nashville, Tennessee

I must admit that I am living in a tension between compassion for refugees and concern about terrorism. Knowing that Jesus himself was, at one time, a refugee, and having met several political refugees personally, it makes my heart swell with compassion… but knowing what we know about recent attacks around the world and this apparent “trojan horse” method of terrorism, it gives me pause.

I don’t have any answers. Just questions really. What is the Biblical response? To close all of our borders for good to everyone? To turn away thousands of widows and children who, through no fault of their own, have been victimized by war and violence? How do we obey a Biblical mandate to both welcome the stranger and protect our own families? This is hard.

I’ve heard the grape argument. “If one grape in the bunch was poisoned would you eat any of them?” But we’re not talking about grapes here. We’re talking about souls. Jesus looked at the whole bunch and knew ALL of them were poisoned, yet he still chose to drink of the cup and die for the love of them.

There must be a balance. I do think it’s reasonable and prudent to pause immigration to review and revamp the process of screening applicants (and yes, I’m aware that in some countries a majority of the refugees are single young men… thus the enhanced screening process). It is not anti-refugee to enforce the strictest of security standards, to ensure that our country remains safe. But we cannot slam the door and wall ourselves in, ignoring “the least of these” who have very legitimate needs for shelter and security. We cannot be controlled by fear. To borrow from an article I read earlier today…

“Fear leads to hatred; courage leads to convictional compassion. And convictional compassion means differentiating between the radical Islamists who would destroy us and peaceful neighbors who stand with us in deploring such violence.

We are in a war. An unconventional war, of course, but a war nonetheless. Wars always bring out the best and worst in humanity. When future generations look back in time, let us hope they will see that we met these challenges with courage, not fear. In doing so, we obey the most frequent command in the Bible, ‘Do not be afraid.'”

“There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear.” -1 John 4:18

Join with me in praying for the families of the men and women who lost their lives this week in Paris. Praying for the refugees who have been driven out of their homeland, just like our Lord. Praying for the terrorist who believes Satan’s lies. And most of all praying that the Gospel will be shared and shown through the hands of those that reach out in love and compassion. Jesus is the only hope for this world and the people in it.

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Posted by on November 16, 2015 in Ministry, Personal


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Future Me’s Problem

Future Me’s Problem

Last night, while answering the routine ‘how-was-your-day’ questions, Evelyn (9) said, “I left my math homework at school, but I’m not worried about it right now. That’s Future Me’s problem and I can’t do anything about it. Future Me will just have to deal with it tomorrow.”

I’m still not sure if this is irresponsible or brilliant… or both! Certainly “Future Me” had to deal with some consequences today when the future collided with the present, and more consequences are pending if “Future Me” doesn’t maintain her math grades.  Still, I have to admire Evelyn’s carefree attitude when it comes to circumstances beyond her control.  She is an honor roll student, so please don’t get the impression that this is a common occurrence, but forgetfulness can happen to the best of us.  I must admit, I would probably lose sleep over what may or may not happen when I had to face my teacher the next day, but to Evie… that was Future Me’s problem.  She was just going to eat supper, play with her little brother, take a bath, and go to bed.  I think we can safely assume that Future Me won’t have to deal with any stomach ulcers down the road!

Anxious PenguinAdmittedly, I’ve been battling with anxiety in my own life recently.  Anxiety about the future, the economy, abortion, terrorism, growing threats here in the United States and abroad, the plight of Christians around the world, the fast growing moral decay that is eating away at the foundations of our society like a cancer and spiraling faster and faster out of control.  *hyperventilates into a paper bag… oo-ee-oo-ee-oo-ee*

I know 1 Peter 5:7 tells us, “cast all your anxieties on Him, because He cares for you.”  I know that, but it’s so easy to get overwhelmed with everything going on around us in the world and forget that God is indeed in control.  I’m (still) learning to calm my fears by spending time in prayer and in God’s Word.  God says “Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!”  (Psalm 46:10)  The Hebrew word for be still in this passage doesn’t mean to sit still and be quiet; it means to “let go”.  Let go of the things that you can’t control and know that He is God, He is on the throne, and He is in control.

I’m reminded of a little wooden plaque that used to hang on the wall in our kitchen when I was a boy.  We moved from Henagar to Rainsville when I was 12-years-old and I don’t recall seeing it since, but I remember it’s words very well.  Written on this plaque was a prayer called The Serenity Prayer.  You’ve probably heard it before.  It’s been often used and quoted:

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things I can,
And the wisdom to know the difference.

I’ve prayed those three lines many times through the years.  That prayer, a memory from my childhood mingled together with memories of orange counter-tops and plaid wallpaper and my family sitting around a country kitchen.  It always takes me back every time I think about that little prayer.  But those three lines are actually a condensed version of a larger prayer; a wonderful, rich prayer authored by the American theologian Reinhold Niebuhr in 1937.  Here is the prayer in it’s entirety:

God, give me grace to accept with serenity
the things that cannot be changed,
Courage to change the things
which should be changed,
and the Wisdom to distinguish
the one from the other.
Living one day at a time,
Enjoying one moment at a time,
Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace,
Taking, as Jesus did,
This sinful world as it is,
Not as I would have it,
Trusting that You will make all things right,
If I surrender to Your will,
So that I may be reasonably happy in this life,
And supremely happy with You forever in the next.

May we live our lives with serenity, courage, and wisdom.  I will not be anxious (Matthew 6:31).  I will cast my cares on the Lord (1 Peter 5:7).  I will not be afraid because God is with me, giving me strength. (Isaiah 41:10)  The future may (or may not) be full of trouble and hardships, but I’m trying not to worry about it.  That’s just something that Future Me will have to deal with.


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Posted by on September 3, 2015 in Family, Personal


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Losing Sleep Over the Lost

Me and EvieJune 25, 2015 – Evie (our 9-year-old deep thinker) called me into her room last night because she couldn’t sleep. I sat on the edge of her bed as she shared her concerns.

“If the gates to Hell are wide and the way to Heaven is narrow… that means that most of the people on Earth are going to Hell. Right? It makes me sad to think about some of my friends who know about Jesus and just don’t care, but it makes me even sadder to think about all the people in the world who have never heard about Jesus.”

I assured her that her mom and I shared her sentiment.  That’s the reason we pray for the nations, that’s the reason we work with Nehemiah Teams​ and that’s the reason I’m going to Nicaragua next week… to make the name of Jesus known.  Lots of people have never heard the Gospel and it’s our responsibility as Christians to tell them.

I was moved to tears by the compassion of my child, but as I kissed her goodnight and laid down in my own bed I was deeply convicted about my own lack of concern.  And so I leave you with the same questions the Holy Spirit was whispering in my ear as I drifted off to sleep…

“Hey Robert, when is the last time you told someone about what Jesus has done for you?”

“Hey Robert, have you ever lost sleep because one of your friends is on that wide road to Hell?”

“How about a stranger, Robert?  How much do you care about the lost?”

“What are you doing to make the name of Jesus known?”

“Your daughter knows that more people die every day and they need to know about Jesus now, but where is your sense of urgency?”

“I love you, Robert.  I made you, and I love you.  You can’t change the past, but tomorrow is a new day.  Get up in the morning and lead your family to do what I’ve called you to do.”


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Posted by on June 26, 2015 in Uncategorized


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Sexiest Thing I’ve Ever Done… Grocery Shopping?!

Sexiest Thing I’ve Ever Done… Grocery Shopping?!

The day started out normal enough.  It was stormy last night so none of us slept well.  The kids were in our room by 3am asking to crawl into bed with Mom and Dad.  One succeeded and the other two huddled together in the toddler’s room next door.  At daybreak, we hit the snooze button a few times before tumbling out of bed.  The remainder of the morning was a mad scramble to get ready and get out the door on time.

I usually drop the older kids off at school on my way to work while my wife stays at home with our youngest.  We knew before we left this morning that the kids didn’t have lunch packed, but we also didn’t have time to stop at the grocery store on the way.  Mandi could have taken the kids some food later in the day, but it would have been out of her way, so I decided to run to the store and pick up a Lunchable® to take back to the school after I dropped them off.  Problem solved.  I sent Mandi a quick text to let her know that she didn’t have to worry about the kids’ lunch.

Based on her reaction, this was the most provocative, sensual text message I’ve ever sent.  I may have inadvertently stumbled upon an obscure, enigmatic form of ‘sexting’ where you message your wife a list of chores that you’ve accomplished without being asked.  This message ignites the fires of passion and she texts you back a declaration of her love and unending devotion.  I think I’m onto something here.  I honestly think that if I had told her that I also filled up her vehicle with gas, she would have begged me to come straight home.

LovableLunchableIn Back to the Future Part II, Dr. Emmett L. Brown (Doc) tells Marty that he intends to destroy the time-traveling Delorean.  He explains that, “time-traveling is just too dangerous. Better that I devote myself to study the other great mystery of the universe: women.”

I certainly haven’t unravelled the mystery of women yet, but I did learn this principle several years ago and I was reminded of it today.  God has created men and women differently!

“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” -Genesis 1:27

We are all created in the image of God and share so many similarities, but we cannot deny that there are some differences in the way that we are made.  Some of these gender differences will always remain a mystery, just as certain aspects of our wonderfully complex Creator is a mystery.  However, recognizing our differences is important because these differences affect your understanding and ability to please your spouse and create a wonderful, fulfilling marriage.  In short, you will not change your spouse to think and act just like you, so learn the differences and complement one another.

I actually found out the hard way that these difference don’t work in reverse.  We’ve read several excellent books over the years about how to have a successful marriage, and most of them have one chapter for men only and one chapter for women only.  In his book, A Celebration of Sex, Dr. Douglas Rosenau, a Christian marriage and family therapist, was no exception.  He even gave husbands and wives tips on how to arouse your spouse.  To the men he suggested things like, “Clear the table and load the dishwasher after dinner, wash and dry a load of laundry, or watch the kids and give your wife some time alone for a hot bath.”  I remember thinking, “Are you kidding me?! This stuff is a turn-on for women?!”

Then I flipped over to the chapter labeled “For Women Only” and read something much more interesting.  In my mind, the tips Dr. Doug gave the women on arousing their husbands sounded much more compelling.  One item in particular on this list caught my attention, and I thought we’d give it a try since the men’s list just sounded like alot of housework.  Tip #3 read,

“Don’t wear any underwear to a social gathering, and tell your husband on the way out the door. You’ll drive him crazy all day!”

The next opportunity we had to attend a “social gathering” was on a Sunday.  At a church.  Where I was leading worship.

That Sunday morning while I was driving, I looked over at my beautiful bride in the passenger’s seat, lowered my voice and said, “Hey, guess what… I’m not wearing any underwear…”  I probably don’t need to tell you that this statement did not achieve the intended results.  When I got the car back on the road, between punches and through clenched teeth I could just make out Mandi saying, “You’re not wearing underwear?! You’ve got to lead worship!!”  For the sake of the people involved, I won’t tell you when or where I was singing that day.

There really should be a warning label on marriage books like that, so consider my example before you try to reverse roles.  It was a hard lesson learned, but we look back on it and laugh now.  Mandi and I had the opportunity to meet Dr. Rosenau just a few weeks ago at a marriage retreat with the 10,000 Fathers Worship School and I shared our story with him over dinner.  He got a kick out of it, but he also took the opportunity to say, “I told you so.”

We are created different, but we should celebrate those differences and complement one another, not try to change each other.  I’m an extrovert and Mandi is an introvert so it used to drive me crazy when she would avoid calling someone on the phone.  I would try to “fix” her by forcing her to make calls, even if it was something simple like ordering pizza.  Now I understand more about her personality and her comfort level and I truly have her best interests at heart.  I’m perfectly capable of ordering pizza and I know she really appreciates not having to speak to people over the phone.  Neither is right or wrong; just different and complementary.

Screen Shot 2015-04-21 at 12.00.05 AMBecome an expert on your spouse.  Check out Gary Chapman’s book, The 5 Love Languages, and learn how to speak your spouse’s language.  Take a personality profile together like the Myers-Briggs test to learn more about one another and how your personalities differ.  Above all, God’s Word tells us to “put on a heart of compassion and patience” (Colossians 3:12).  If you love your wife, then you’ll want to know her, to understand her, to have empathy for her so you can love her more.  It’s what we want in marriage: to know and be known by another in the safety of unconditional love.

Now if you’ll excuse me, the dishwasher just finished a cycle and I think I hear my wife calling my name.

If you’d like to know more about some of the resources that I mentioned, click here to see a list of books that have been a tremendous help to me and Mandi in our marriage and as we raise a family.  God Bless.


Posted by on April 21, 2015 in Family, Personal


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