Regardless of your personal political persuasion, we can all agree on one thing - these are changing times. In fact, I can’t think of a comparable season in my life that would parallel the one in which we are currently living.
During such volatile times, it is easy for an array of emotions to be encountered. We can experience everything from depression to disappointment, disillusionment to hopelessness. That is, if our eyes are on the natural.
That is why we must remember that our faith is not to be based on what we see. Our faith is based on the One who is Lord of all, and by whose strong arm all things are held in place. All things. Everywhere. All the time. He is sovereign, and that title encompasses more than we often remember.
It is in a time of great trial and trouble that many find the real and only source of hope. That source is not the stock market, our leaders or governmental authorities, or in our own checking accounts. Our source is the Lord. At times, He leads us to places that are the opposite of green pastures and still waters. When that is true for us, we must remember that even in such a place, we are not alone. We have His ever-present help.
If you’ve just read the paper, or watched the news, follow that up with a remembrance that nothing is out of our Lord’s care. If His eye is on the sparrow, and it is, you know that He is watching over you.
Till next time.
~ Mike Gilland
(Taken at a Christmas 2010 billiard game. Left to right: David Gilland (Mike's son), Mike Gilland, and Jim Gilland (Mike's Dad)
As we are all approaching Father’s Day 2015, my heart is full of gratitude that, at age 62, I still have my Dad. My “Pop” is 89 years old, and as Father’s Day approaches, he is in the battle of his life. He was first diagnosed with kidney cancer almost 10 years ago. He has fought for every day this past ten years. He is fighting hard now.
Flash back to those early years in Indiana, where as a boy I grew up with a Dad who loved hunting, fishing, baseball and basketball. (Hey, in Indiana, EVERYBODY loves basketball!) These were not solitary pastimes for my Dad…he shared them with me, and I grew up with a memory full of rich experiences of time spent together. I grew up without Internet, without video games, so our times were spent shooting buckets or shooting guns. I spent many summers helping my Dad, earning an income as his apprentice, learning his trade of home improvement. Whether it was applying aluminum siding or asphalt roofing, I never had a doubt that my Dad worked hard for his family.
When I played first base in Little League, my Dad would always be in the stands, cheering me on. And even though my Dad was never fond of large crowds, he took me to every home game for the Evansville Purple Aces during a magical championship season when their roster included Jerry Sloan, later coach of the Utah Jazz.
I learned my first guitar chords from my Dad, playing around on his acoustic guitar, trying to emulate the way that he made those chords on those six strings. Now that pastime took a big hold in my heart, and I found myself in a Christian band, touring the three states adjacent to my home town. From concert halls to small churches, my Dad and my Mom were our biggest fans. As he had done with my love for sports, now he was doing the same for my music. He was always there.
How can I adequately honor someone who counted time with me as being more important than his own interests? While our personalities are different, I am daily reminded of how deeply ingrained are my Father’s influences in my own life. In every passing week, I will find myself prefacing a statement with, “Just like my Dad has always said…” His nuggets of practical wisdom are tightly sewn through my life.
When I met Cindy, my Dad was instantly for her, and he would be the first to tell me if he thought I wasn’t showing her the proper consideration. After we married, my Dad gave up payment for an entire job – just to help me buy our first home.
Dad, I would never be able to adequately convey just how grateful I am for you. It is not like we never had disagreements, or that we always related perfectly. But we always worked it out, and we were always stronger for the effort. That kind of outcome happens when you have a Dad who loves deeply, works sacrificially, and supports tirelessly. Dad – that is you. Happy Father’s Day.
Till next time.
~ Mike Gilland
I think about it every year – a storm that was unlike any I had ever experienced. That day – June 8 – had started off like any other spring day in Evansville, Indiana. The sun was shining, and the temps were pleasant. What was about to come was unthinkable, and no one was really ready for it.
At that time, I was the operations manager for a Christian radio station, and my boss was in town for meetings. We were on our way to a fancy restaurant that was situated on the top floor of an eighteen story building, the tallest structure in town. And while we were driving, the weather was changing…rapidly. By the time we got to the downtown area, I had a clear view to the west – and what I saw coming was downright frightening. Not just one tornado, but a “mother cloud" of 9 tornados was about to strike our city’s downtown area.
I tried to convince my boss to NOT get onto the elevator. Those years as a TV weatherman, studying clouds under the supervision of the friendly crew at the National Weather Service had helped me realize the potential danger that was approaching, but my boss dismissed my appeal to not get into the elevator. So, we did. And I prayed all the way up. The doors opened, and we were mid-step out of the elevator when the power suddenly failed – all lights in the restaurant went dark.
I quickly rushed to the host, and asked him where I could make an emergency phone call (yes, this was BEFORE cell phones!). He would not let me in to the room adjacent to us that held the guest phone. I appealed, but he said I couldn’t use it, that it wasn’t safe…and in the next instant, I understood why he hesitated. You see, that room, and all of the other dining rooms in this building, had giant glass walls that gave a panoramic view of the city. Had I been in that room using the phone, it would have been very bad – for in an instant, that storm blew out the entire side wall of the restaurant. Seemingly millions of pieces of broken tempered glass blew in. And the powerful force of 9 tornados was now blowing through those rooms, and literally shaking the building. What a surreal moment – people were screaming, and most of us were praying. I really thought the entire building was going down. But in ten minutes time, it was over. So was our lunch meeting – that never really started.
We began the long descent down, walking through the darkened stairways of that building, finally reaching ground level, and there we walked out to what looked like a war zone. The destruction was massive. Sign boards were blown down, street lights broken, trees were on pushed over, windows blown out. Debris was everywhere. All power was gone for much of the city, as the overhead power lines were no match for 200 MPH winds. One radio station tower was brought down, twisted into the shape of a pretzel.
By God’s grace, we had made it through the storm. It took weeks of hard work for the community to clean up, repair, and bring restoration to all the areas damaged.
Looking back on that day, one thing that has always amazed me is this – the speed at which everything changed. It came on us in an instant.
The Bible has a couple of verses that take that concept into our spiritual walk. One passage is 1 Peter 4:12, where Peter warns us, “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.” We shouldn’t be surprised that storms come. We have been duly warned that they will occur!
The second deals with our response to sudden bad news…I particularly like the NIV’s reading of Psalm 112:7 – speaking of the righteous man, it says “He will have no fear of bad news; his heart is steadfast, trusting in the LORD.” When the news comes that we didn’t expect, we can hang onto this promise. We will have our heart held in steadfast trust.
The storms – they will come. But His love and grace will see us through to calmer days.
Till next time.
~ Mike Gilland
I always feel sorry when I hear stories about those up north who plan their hard-earned vacations in “The Sunshine State,” only to get here and experience one of those rare weeks full of bad weather. They had saved, anticipated, and relished their plans – only to get to their hotel or resort, and watch the winds from a tropical storm or the rain from a stalled front deprive them of their expectations. It doesn’t happen often, but when it does, it is disappointing, and they have an unexpected vacation story to tell when they get back home.
I’m quite sure that we all love sunny days. We feel better, our spirits are higher, and the landscape radiates under the beautiful Florida sun. But the truth is, we need those rainy days – even in the Sunshine State. Our yards won’t stay green long without those wonderfully brief but potent afternoon showers. No amount of irrigated water will replace the nutrients in our yards like a good rain soaking will provide. And, in times of drought, when lakes are receding and the springs are drying, nothing replenishes like a good ol’ tropical depression.
Our hearts are like our yards. They love sunny days, trouble-free blocks of time where it seems that all is peachy keen, and not a worry is in sight. As inviting as these times seem, life does not operate under such sustained idyllic conditions. When things in our life are “that kind of great,” we quickly become more self-dependent than we realize. Plainly said, our souls just don’t prosper when our lives are trouble free.
John Piper said this…
“No one ever said that they learned their deepest lessons of life, or had their sweetest encounters with God, on the sunny days. People go deep with God when the drought comes.”
That couldn’t be more true. Those days that are difficult drive me to prayer and dependency on God. And for that reason, those days are not only necessary, but they are precious to our lives.
It helps us embrace whatever difficulty we are facing if we remember that God does more than lead us beside still waters…sometimes He allows us to walk through the valley of the shadow of death. And in both times, He is there. Those shadows remind me just how much I need my Savior, how dependent upon Him I truly am.
If you are in a cloudy, drought-filled time, or if the storm clouds are seemingly spoiling your day…be encouraged. Remember – we need the refreshing rain of God’s Spirit to fall on our dry hearts. And, call out to the One who is the light of all. He will guide you through to your next sunny day.
Till next time.
~ Mike Gilland
Has it ever happened to you? That dreaded moment when your car suddenly gives a couple of unexpected and abnormal jerks and bumps. With a painful realization, you say to yourself, “Yep, you did it. You took that extra chance, thought you could make it just a little bit farther down the road on that tank of gas.” But…just like a bank can immediately call the note on a loan during difficult times, your car just called, functionally saying “Uh, that’s all.” “Pull over, buster. I’m outta gas.”
In that most difficult moment, survival now becomes the pressing issue – you have only a few moments, riding on whatever momentum you had going for you before that last drop of precious petro slid into your fuel injector. Now, job one is to find a safe place to pull over. And, once you do, job two is to figure out how you’re going to get more gas into that tank.
Sadly, this experience has happened to me more than once. Fortunately, it has been a long time since I ran out of gas. But…it hasn’t been that long since I was “running on fumes.” That is what my Dad used to call it, that habit of pressing your luck with your gas guage. And when you are running on fumes, you’re in more danger than you realize.
When you think about it, there are really only two conditions at play when it comes to running out of gas. One – pure carelessness. You know you need to stop and fill up, but you ignore the gas gauge, and even that annoying “low fuel” light that came on last night.
The second reason is a bit more pervasive, and perhaps more troubling. It is the state of presumption, wherein we presume that we are going to make it. That is a dangerous state of mind. Against all odds, we roll the dice and keep on driving.
These two reasons can also be at play in a completely different arena of our lives - our daily walk with Jesus.
We know we need to pray. We need to read the Word. But carelessly and quite recklessly, we press on through the day, as if we don’t really need a Savior. ‘Tis a dangerous thing to run our lives with this level of recklessness.
And so it is with the second condition…presumption. Just like the rich fool in Luke 12:13-21, we can easily say to God, “Here’s what I’m going to do…this, and that, and this and that…never once taking the time to stop, pray, meditate on, and read His Word. We presume that we are going to come out OK, even though we are operating purely on our own strength and our own plans. Presuming on his plans didn’t work out so well for that guy in that passage.
Truth is…it doesn’t work out well for us either. Here’s a question for you: “Are you running on fumes today?” If so, stop. Pray. Read. Get your heart filled up. It is a much less dangerous way to live.
Till next time.
~ Mike Gilland
It was Abraham Lincoln that has been credited with saying, “I remember my mother’s prayers and they have always followed me. They have clung to me all my life.”
I can relate – and I am grateful to have a praying Mom. Yes, I still have her today, a privilege that is rare for guys my age. My Mom is, and always has been a prayer warrior. She prays to her Lord. She prays for her husband. She prays for my sister and me, and our families. Some of the most significant decisions of my life prior to marriage and while I still lived in my parents’ home in Indiana were prayed over by my Mom in my presence. Like Mr. Lincoln, I see that is a gift that I will always carry with me.
This Sunday, as we celebrate Mother’s Day, may we all remember in a fresh new way just how much we all owe to our Moms. Regardless of the kind of relationship you may have had with your mother as you grew up, or even later in your adult life, literally every person alive owes at least a debt of gratitude to the one who endured what the Bible calls the “pain of childbirth” in order to receive her child into the world. To have a day to honor that very special person and her role in our lives is altogether sensible and justified.
My Mom and Dad have been married for almost 65 years. Amazing. That example of enduring commitment also follows me today, a fact for which I couldn’t be more grateful. Prayer had a lot to do with that.
Mom and Dad are facing new challenges as this year’s Mother’s Day approaches. My father was placed in hospice care last week, so this is naturally a very unique time for my family. There is lot of praying and reflection going on. I would appreciate your prayers, and am grateful in advance for them.
Thank you, Mom, for praying. It made a difference back then. And those prayers still matter today.
Till next time.
~ Mike Gilland