Saturday, February 24, 2007

Foreign Bodies

Just wanted to put a brief description of a weird "vibe" I got this weekend during a youth retreat.

We were at church late at night, and playing a game with one of those giant "earth balls" that are like 5 feet wide. During a break a few of us were in the trailer out back waiting for the others to re-air the ball (it was an old ball and there was a hole).

I had wandered back into the room where the youth girls have class and was looking at a podium sitting on the table. It was covered in signatures, dates, sayings, from lots of people over the past five years or so.

I suddenly realized I was by myself and it was completely quiet except for the buzzing of the light behind me. I had my hand on the podium trying to see which names I could recognize and suddenly I got this vibe that I'll have to tell another story about to make an accurate analogy:

Years ago when I was a little guy I used to go to a weeklong summer camp with people from a previous church. We weren't really roughing it because we stayed in these wooden cabins. When we first showed up, the cabin was just a cabin, and completely empty. But after even half a day the place was hopping with activity and every rafter and stray nail had a purpose.

And I remember one time the week was over and I was the last one in the cabin gathering my stuff. The bus was ready to go and that antsyness of "I got somewhere to BE" was present. But I took a look at the cabin and saw it was just as empty as it was when we all showed up. It was like the walls had absorbed some of the energy that we left there through laughter and tears through growing spiritually, and in a way we had left our mark on that place. But still, the most overwhelming thought in my mind was: This is not where you belong anymore, and you have someplace to be. Home.

That's the analogy that went zipping through my head when I had my finger on the podium. What looked like dozens of people had stood right where I was and signed their name, or left a funny saying, or a date. Each marker-stroke represented one snippet in time where a person or group of people felt like leaving their mark for someone else to see and possibly leave THEIR mark too.

The connection was made that, as Christians, we are not where we belong. We are away from Home while we're here, and we are leaving marks for other people to notice. The question is, are we leaving the right kind of marks? Are we leaving the kind of good marks that would prompt other Christians to leave many MORE of the same kind of marks?

One day, we're going to be on our way Home and the bus engine is going to be idling. All of our affairs will be packed up and we'll take a last look at this temporary home where we've been staying for this short time. The small link we have here, that idea that this is home, will be like a small thread connecting us here, while a giant cable connects us to our true Home, and as soon as we turn around to head that direction, the thread will snap, and we'll have only one direction to go.


The Changing Of The Guard

Take a moment to think about all the people who've impacted your life in a positive direction. I don't mean the people that just kind of nudge you in a good direction, I'm talking about the people that have basically shot you in the best direction possible, expecting nothing in return, and having you end up someplace where you never could have gotten to on your own.

To me, one such person is my grandfather, Willis Gerald Lewis.

As far back as I could remember, Grandpa was the strong silent type. He never complained about anything, just did what needed to be done.

He was in the Marines during the Korean War. I've seen pictures of him in black and white and in uniform. Surprisingly enough, he still looks a lot like his picture even after all this time.

He served the Post Office for who knows how long. Before that he used to fix old cars with the mechanic my family still trusts to serve vehicles.

Fairly recently, after years of not really being involved in a church setting, he began coming. Soon after that, he got in with serving food at a local shelter downtown, and was well-known at church as a guy who just "got the job done". He also cut the church lawn on a regular basis, stocked the soda machines, and helped with maintenance. The little things that not many people would think of, just got done.

He came to the forefront when he was diagnosed with prostate cancer about eight years ago.

We all thought he'd probably want to slow down and eventually the disease would run its course. Surprisingly though, he didn't. He was still cutting his own lawn until about three years ago, when I took over.

Grandpa was also the only reason I made it through school financially. For whatever reason, he felt he should give me enough money for tuition per semester just to see me succeed. He turned down the offer of getting paid back once I got a good job, simply because he didn't give me the money to expect to break even or to make a profit. So I made sure to tell him all about what neat things are going on in my job now, and some of the last non-sad conversation we had was about the projects going on there. He was pretty proud.

Things took a turn for the worse about 3 weeks ago. He had to be rushed to the hospital for reasons that are fuzzy now, even that short a time ago. It wasn't long before it was decided he'd be better off in a hospice near the hospital where the staff could take better care of him.

I went to see him a couple weeks ago, while he was at the hospice, and it was a far sight better than he was at the hospital. Instead of being doped up on pain meds, he was sitting up, feeding himself and talking to me. I stayed for about an hour I think, the both of us basically dancing around the fact that he would probably never leave that room physically, and talking about whatever random stuff would come up. He was glad for the company and I was glad for the strength to not break down a number of times while I was there.

The second to last time I saw him, was when we all showed up after hearing he wasn't doing too well. My father and I were in the room together and after dad sitting there for awhile holding Grandpa's hand, we switched. Grandpa was asleep at the time so I took his hand and held it for awhile.

I sat there for awhile, wondering what it's like to be basically riddled with cancer. Thinking back, I remembered all the bad reports the family had gotten when we'd heard that cancer was found somewhere else. It was kind of odd at the time, but none of that seemed to faze him... he just kept on going. In fact, the sudden turn for the worse happened at such an unexpected time that some of thought he might pull through this, like it was a temporary relapse. Statistically, I'm probably going to die of some kind of cancer--just look at all the flavors available. And looking back now, Grandpa never really complained about the pain; once in awhile he'd wake up for a little while and you could tell because he'd be grunting a little and squeezing my hand a little harder.

I sit and think, how can I possibly measure up to that kind of dignity, that kind of resolve?

Grandpa's eyes peeked open a little and shot open when he realized I wasn't dad. It was probably a surprise for him.

"Hi, Son!" he croaked out.

"Hi Grandpa," I replied. After a pause I said "How's it going?"

"I'm dying," he returned. Shortly after that I completely lost it and started sobbing.

This man was always the soft-hearted type and would cry a little over things you and I wouldn't be bothered by. He cried at my graduation, both from high school and college. He cried a little when he heard about my first girlfriend, both when we got together and when we broke up. Little things that showed he was more sensitive than most people.

And this man, when I put my head down next to him on his death bed, stroked my hair to comfort me because I was sad. It was about that time I asked dad to leave for a few minutes.

I tried to compose myself enough to get out what I felt I needed to say.

"Grandpa, I just wanted to tell you I really love you."

"I love you too, son"

"I also wanted to say that I wouldn't have gotten where I am today if it weren't for you."

"No, you would have made it,"

and I said "No, I wouldn't. I mean if it weren't for all the money and support I wouldn't have even gone to school. I don't know what I'd be doing now if it weren't for you." Now it was his turn to pause.

"Well just make sure to give credit where credit is due," and I knew he was talking about God.

I don't think I ever saw him cry the whole time I was there.

Willis Gerald Lewis died at 9:10 am on Friday, February 23, 2007. He's the first man and first family member I've ever felt comfortable giving a eulogy for--even though I wouldn't know what to say. He's the first man I would drink to with a bunch of his buddies. He's the second man I'd feel honored to be a pall bearer for and he's the only family member I wish I'd been with right when he died.


Right now the family is still pretty tender. I cried while writing just now and I'm sure that the funeral Monday won't be fun. But I can take solace in the fact that, although technically we can't be sure of anybody's salvation, I'm fairly certain that where he's at now, he's not in pain from cancer anymore.

So yeah Grandpa, I'll hold the fort here for awhile, and tie up some loose ends. It might take fifty or sixty years, but keep a light on for me, I'll see you in awhile.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Our God Is An Awesome God

Yesterday we had a prayer meeting at church and it occured to me how great our God really is.

Here we are, a bunch of insignificant people that have no value by ourselves, but what God does for us every day makes us have value to Him.

It amazes me that God would even waste His time on a people that seem more interested in themselves than worship. But He does. He is longsuffering.

He is patient and perseveres, in that the rate of spiritual growth we have is very small if it weren't for our sin. He is constantly working in the lives of all Christians to forge them into the tools we need to be to do His work. I can't think of many people that would work with such a stubborn, unyielding material without throwing their hands up in exasperation.

He is so forgiving, and I compare each sin, no matter how small (because every sin is based in the fact that we focus on ourselves instead of on God) is like a spouse committing adultery. We still are punished for it but we are always forgiven and cleansed. What an awesome God!

He is loving enough that He would send His own Son to die in our place for our sins, simply to show His glory. We don't deserve that. Make no mistake, even I deserve to go to Hell but for God's grace set on me. None of us by our own doing can make it into Heaven since the very essence of trying is a selfish act where the aim is to NOT go to Hell.

He is also loving in the way He disciplines His children. Parents who want children who are well behaved often have to punish them for their mistakes. This is an act of love, not hate. Our God, who knows all things about our lives and the entire world, knows what's best for us and steers us in the right direction. Our God loves us enough to do that, and that is amazing.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Spend Some Time With God

I have no idea how to make introduction paragraphs for things like blog entries. I see these pastors that just fire off into the wild blue and gradually merge into something that flows and builds into something really easy on the eyes. So this paragraph, while totally unrelated to the topic, is for filler. You can completely ignore it or read it through, it's your choice. On with the show this is it.

The problem is that too many people don't really spend a lot of time with God. I heard a good analogy on the radio that sounds a lot like what some Christians' attitude toward this is. A wife tells her husband "You never spend any time with me," and the husband's response is, "I spend all kinds of time with you. I mow the grass and I fix the car and all kinds of other stuff." But the point is that he's not spending any TIME with her.

And a lot of us don't spend any time with God. It might seem like we do because we might spend time thinking about Him, or doing things in His name but really... how much do we spend time with a Bible out on a table, reading around in it and wanting to learn new things about His character? If there's any tug in your heart that says you should do it more, then you probably should.

It might seem impossible, or that there's never enough time in the day. But I want to challenge you: if you're not already reading a little bit every day, start. Keep it small, maybe 30 minutes a day, sometime when you can really sit down and focus. Then just flop it open and start reading a few chapters. Maybe pick an obscure book like Jude or Habakkuk and see what it has to say. Take some notes on what you learn and keep a list of all the things you pick up. After one week you'll have amounted three and a half hours of study, which works out to 175 per year. Pretty decent.

If you want a good start, check out the story of Joseph in Genesis 37, Genesis 39-Genesis 50

Wednesday, February 14, 2007


Today, Josh Harris was on the radio talking about his book "I Kissed Dating Goodbye". This is an excellent book for singles who are seeking godly mates, and how to approach the problem.

One thing that really struck home pretty much upended the way I think about being single--it's not something to try and get rid of like some kind of hot potato, it's something you can use to increase your faith and do more of God's work. Being married or even being involved in a relationship is a heavy burden, one which shouldn't be taken lightly. Being single is actually a gift from God, and shouldn't be squandered trying to quench something in your life, or fill a hole, when God's will includes you being married sometime in the future. Just like Josh says, "The right thing at the wrong time is the wrong thing."

Josh's Blog

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Mount Up


My name is Michael Fritzius and I started this blog to talk about some things I discover during my Christian walk. I hope you find something useful to you that reveals more about the character of God, or that strengthens your faith.

It's important to constantly try to learn new things to keep your spirit fresh and alert. There will be links to other places that are pretty informative as I put them up.

Take care,