Every Day is a Blessing

Image may contain: grass, plant, sky, outdoor and nature

This past weekend I turned 50. That sounds like an incredibly long time, yet it flew by so fast.  So often we take each day for granted.  When we do that, we will often miss the beauty that each day brings.  I’m writing this right now, sitting on my front porch listening to the wind through the trees, the birds are singing and I can hear the bustle of people starting their day.  I’m looking at a clear blue sky and thinking what a wonderful day this is starting out to be.  

The heavens declare the glory of God;  the skies proclaim the work of his hands.  -Psalm 19:1

But not only that, I awake to see the opportunity that God has put before me.  The opportunity to work, the opportunity to help people, the opportunity to love others and the opportunity to praise and worship our king.  Let us not forget that God gave us this day for a reason.  We need to be attuned to him and the opportunities will present themselves.  We will see where God is working and we will see the miracles that he does each and every day.   We just need to pay attention.

For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus. -Philippians 1:6

My vow for the next 50 years, God willing, is to wake each day with renewed purpose.  With attentiveness to where God is working.  And a renewed resolve to spend time in God’s word and in worship to him.  

For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime; weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning. -Psalm 30:5

I challenge everyone reading this to start their day with a quick prayer of thanks and ask God to reveal to them his glory.

Small Groups in This New Pandemic World

10 Tips for zooming into online church meetings (Part I) | PastorsLine

So by now, a large part of the country (if not the world) is in some sort of lock-down or stay-at-home order from their local government. One place that has been greatly impacted is your local church. Most have closed, on their own accord, to weekend gatherings. Smaller churches may have even shut their doors completely, while others have been able to gather virtually online with Facebook being where I see a large number of our local churches offering an online weekend service as long as messages, updates and prayer time offered throughout the week online.

Another area that has been affected by all this, is the small group gathering. These small groups are often more than just Bible study groups (though that is still an important aspect of many of them) and are groups that serve their communities in some way.

I’ve belonged to a small group of families for a few years now. While primarily a Bible study group, we do also look for opportunities to serve. Now we meet online and while it’s not quite the same as meeting together where we share a meal and fellowship before our study, this new online world is still nice and has allowed us to connect weekly and share that time together.

This forced time of isolation has also given me time and ease to join a few other Bible studies online. While it will be tough to maintain all of these when we begin to meet in person again, the ease of jumping online to meet is a great convenience.

In fact, in my case, I meet with one group for an hour and then immediately jump to another group after that one for another hour study with a different group of guys. This obviously would not be possible when we start to meet in person again.

I am curious how things will change in the post-pandemic world. While the face to face meeting is preferred in most cases, the option to have online connections like this has opened up a whole new world of possibilities.

I encourage everyone, to not stay isolated in this time of isolation. Use the technology we have available to us today to find a small group or Bible study group that is currently meeting online. I think you’ll find that it makes this time of stay-at-home much more palatable and will help you to be part of the church that has left the building.

God is Still Moving

Lebanon-Update-777x389.jpg

So here we are in the midst of this pandemic. Here in Ohio schools are closed, non-essential businesses are either closed or their employees are working from home, and the state has requested that we all stay at home if at all possible. Tough times indeed.

I want to take this forum to highlight the positive, the ways God is moving in our world today. God hasn’t left us. He is still working and active in many ways, small and large. In seen and unseen ways, God’s power is moving around us all.

God is our refuge and strength,
    an ever-present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
    and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,

-Psalms 46:1-2

Though the world is changing and there is a lot of uncertainty, there is one thing we can be certain of… God is the same today as he was yesterday and how he’ll be tomorrow. God’s love and power is never changing and always there for us.

The grass withers, the flower fades,
    but the word of our God will stand forever.

Isaiah 40:8

How have you seen God move in this time? How has he been your refuge in this time? I would love to hear your stories. Send me your stories through this blog, on Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter. We can be an encouragement to one another in this time by seeing how great our God is.

Right There With Us

Image result for god holds your hand

Reading a devotional the other day, one of the verses was Isaiah 41:13;

For I the LORD your God will hold your right hand, saying to you, Fear not; I will help you.

As I reflected on it over the last couple days, I realize that the verse is so packed with meaning and so revealing of the nature of God and his relationship with us.

One of the biggest things the enemy uses to keep Christians from living a full life is fear. Fear can keep us from taking advantage of God’s great plan for us. God’s plan will be fulfilled, but we may well miss out on the blessings because of our fear.

This verse gives us a good picture of the personal relationship we have with our God. The God of the universe, promises to be right beside us, holding our hand, walking us through all troubles. He is not some distant, impersonal God. He is one that will get down in the middle of our dirty mess and grab our hand and walk us out of the darkness.

God doesn’t flinch away from us because we fear. He in fact reaches out his hand, takes hold of us and brings us up out of our fear and into his light. God doesn’t promise that we will be free of fear, but does promise that he will be right there with us.

Into the Fire

Image result for Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego

We’ve all gone through those times when we feel like we are “in the fire.” Some trouble or hardship that overwhelms us and brings us to our knees. It can shake our faith and sometimes we can feel like things are hopeless. We can cry out to God asking, “Why am I going through this?” “Why me?” “Please take this from me!” Even Jesus cried out a similar prayer;

“Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.”

Luke 22:42

As we know, God didn’t take that cup from Jesus. He had to move through it.

I was reading the other night the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the book of Daniel. If you recall, the story tells us about these three Jews who in the court of their Babylonian captors, was asked to essentially renounce their God and bow down to the Babylonian gods. The refused and were to be thrown into a great furnace to die for their refusal. When they were thrown into the fire, the remained unharmed and in fact, the onlookers saw a fourth person in the fire with them walking around, which even King Nebuchadnezzar called the son of gods. Eventually, the three came out of the fire unharmed and King Nebuchadnezzar recognized the God of the Jews and the men moved high up in his court.

The story is often told to highlight the great faith three had. For despite the threat of death, the believed their God would save them and even if they weren’t saved, they trusted that it was part of God’s will.

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered King Nebuchadnezzar, “Your threat means nothing to us. If you throw us in the fire, the God we serve can rescue us from your roaring furnace and anything else you might cook up, O king. But even if he doesn’t, it wouldn’t make a bit of difference, O king. We still wouldn’t serve your gods or worship the gold statue you set up.”

Daniel 3: 16-18

What struck me the other night was something different. God didn’t put out the fire, they still had to walk through it. But God didn’t let them walk through it alone. God was with them, walking through the fire with them and they were comforted and safe.

“But look!” he said. “I see four men, walking around freely in the fire, completely unharmed! And the fourth man looks like a son of the gods!”

Daniel 3:25

When I thought about the “fires” I’ve walked through…times I couldn’t see a way out of the situation, times that it seemed hopeless, I can now look back and see that Jesus was right there with me. We are not promised as Christians that life will be easy or comfortable. In fact, there are many stories from the Bible up through modern times where we see Christians that are tortured and killed because of their faith in Jesus.

But what God does promise us…is that he will be with us. That he will be right there in the fire with us. That he will give us the means and the power to walk through any “fire” we are thrown into. With Jesus beside us and when we keep our eyes on him, we can be like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego and walk out of the fire.

Nebuchadnezzar went to the door of the roaring furnace and called in, “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, servants of the High God, come out here!”

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego walked out of the fire.

Daniel 3:26

2020 Vision

Image result for 2020

Happy New Year everyone! This is the start of my 10th year writing this blog and it’s been fun looking back over that time and reflecting on all that’s changed since I’ve begun. Not all of it’s been easy, but looking back and seeing God’s hand in it, I can say with confidence that it’s been good.

So here we are in the year 2020. In the science of eyesight health, 20/20 is normal vision. While you see puns all over the place using that 2020 phrase, when it comes to God’s word and his will in my life, I don’t want to have just normal vision… I want to have exceptional vision. So here are my prayers for this coming year.

  • That I can see clearly where God is moving in the world around me. Not just on the big stage around the world, but right here in my neighbor hood.
  • I want to see clearly what God is calling me to do right here in my own circle of influence. In my neighborhood, my school system, my church, my workplace. Anywhere that God has called me to be, I’m there because he has something for me to do.
  • I want to see clearly how I can be intentional in sharing the overflowing of blessings that God has given me.
  • I want to be boastful in the Lord and sharing the good news that Jesus Christ is risen.

God has led me to this verse and when I read it, it was clear that this is meant to be my verse for the year.

Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things — and the things that are not — to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God — that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. Therefore, as it is written: “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.”

1 Corinthians 1:26-31

My friends, my prayer for all of us is to let 2020 be the year that we see clearly God’s goodness in this world full of darkness. That we can be the light to this darkness. That we boldly proclaim the good news that Jesus is Lord. I pray that we are intentional in blessing others because God has filled me to overflowing. I pray that we use our sphere’s of influence for your Kingdom and to be loving of everyone we meet, because God is love. And I pray, that when we boast, we boast in the Lord.

The Prayer of a Father

Image may contain: 7 people, including Holly Domin Lautzenheiser, Kylie Lautzenheiser, Trey Lautzenheiser and Tela Lautzenheiser, people smiling, people standing, wedding, tree and outdoor

My oldest son got married in 2018. It was a day of mixed emotions and despite him not having lived at home for over a year, I was filled with emotions, both sadness of the young boy he was, riding on my shoulders and climbing on my lap, but emotions of joy on the man he has become. It was a great honor that he and his new wife asked me to say the prayer before dinner.

I wrote it down, but as it was a chaotic day I left it at home and had to just wing it. What I wrote and what I said was pretty close so my message came across. Today while looking through some writings, I came across the prayer I had written and as I read it, I realized that what I had written for the start of a new phase of their lives, applies to us on a daily basis, I felt it would be interesting to read it anew with that in mind.

Heavenly Father, we thank you for today.

Each day is a gift from God. Every morning I wake up and thank God for another day of life to spend with my loved ones and to serve him. And on those days that I forget or get too “busy” to say that small thank you, I usually realize it early into my day as I feel that things just aren’t going smoothly. That simple statement of thanks is always appropriate to give as every moment is a gift from God.

For allowing us to come together to witness the joining of Trey and Kylie in marriage.

We gathered that day to witness a marriage between a man and a woman that fell in love. That day, our son left our side and joined as one with his new wife.

That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh. – Genesis 2:24

When they were united in marriage, before God, they became one. My wife and I have been married for 27 years now and we are truly one. We joined together not only to make a marriage, a home and four wonderful children, but have joined together in one mind in our love of God and our need of a savior, trusting in Jesus Christ as that savior.

We thank you for the fine young man and woman they have grown up to be.

Trey and Kylie have grown into wonderful adults. We as parents are given our children by God, to care for just a short time. Seemingly too soon, they grow and become independent of us. Not that our love fades for them at all, in fact it grows each day, but they grow in the image of God and begin their own life journey with Jesus. Our hope and prayer for them, is that they grow deeper in love with Christ each day. That they realize there need for him and include him in all parts of their lives. I’m nearing 50 and still learning to give my all to Jesus. I try to hold back pieces for myself, but I’ve learned over time that holding things back is not what God wants from us. He wants everything. The good, the bad and the ugly. He can turn our faults into things for his good. He can use us in ways we can not even imagine.

We pray that they honor you through their love and commitment to one another.

As they journey through their married life, how they love each other, their commitment to one another should be a reflection of God’s love for his church. Total devotion, speaking as one, putting each other first…all these things are clear examples of God’s love for us. People watch, their children pay attention, they will see how they treat one another. By loving one another, they are honoring God and what he has done for us.

We ask for your blessings upon them throughout their lives.

Of course they will go through their ups and downs through life. My wife and I have been through many, but through it all, we have shared a love and direction that has given us strength to make it through. Without one another, we wouldn’t have. Every day we wake up is a blessing from God. When we get to see our loved ones, it’s a blessing from God. The memories we have of those that have passed away, is a blessing from God. I pray for my children and their families that God will bless them with life, love and a faith in Him.

We pray that you bless this food and the hands that prepared it.

We partake in a celebration of their new life together by coming together for a meal. Following God is a daily celebration. Many think that by following God, we are bound by rules and life would be no fun. However, what I’ve found is that I’ve never felt more free and joyful. God’s people follow in the footsteps of Jesus and of the early church when they broke bread together in celebration of what God has done.

And we ask for you to join us in this celebration of their marriage.

We ask for God to join us in the celebration. God isn’t a distant, impersonal God. He knows all our names, our fears, our interests. Ask God to join you in all that you do and you will fully see God move in your life. God joined us that day as he put his blessing upon Trey and Kylie and celebrated with us their joining.

And most of all, we thank you for your son Jesus Christ and the love he shows for us.

Jesus is the way, the only way to salvation. We thank him for who he is and what he’s done. Christ is the answer. The door is always open. Jesus will change you and your marriage from the inside out. We can come before God, because Jesus says “They are with me!”

In Jesus name, Amen

God is on the Move

This song came to the forefront of my mind this morning. I see exciting things happening to further God’s kingdom. Last night I had the privilege to attend a vision night for a new church plant that I’m excited to see coming to my community. RiverTree Fairless is coming to our area in October 2020.

Image result for benjamin fairless

The Fairless community is a rural area in northeast Ohio made up of four small villages. In the 60s, their separate school systems were consolidated into the Fairless Local Schools. Named after Benjamin Fairless, a former president of U.S. Steel company who was born and raised in our small community. Before the consolidation, the villages were rivals in sports and there were often disputes between the towns. But as time wore on, the memories of these rivalries have faded and the communities, while maintaining their independence, have largely come together as one behind the Fairless moniker.

Image result for fairless

Today we have a tight knit community, largely still rural and farmland, yet we still see so many in daily struggles that are not being met. But God is on the move in our corner of Stark County. Many have been praying for quite a while to see a church come that is on fire and obedient to God’s call to go out and intentionally disciple and bless our community and beyond.

Fairless already has quite a few churches of different denominations that are working together and doing great things in our community. As a true example of how our community comes together and welcomes all, they have welcomed the RiverTree family into their community as we hold hands with them to bring God’s kingdom more fully into our community.

Image result for rivertree

God is on the move my friends. All around the world, but here in our small community the impact of God can be seen clearly and personally. I’m excited for the next 10 months as the planning, praying and growing continues and I fully believe that in 2020 we will see the Holy Spirit move in ways we can’t imagine in our area.

As the lyrics to the song state;

God is on the move, on the move
Hallelujah
God is on the move
In many mighty ways

God is moving….I will continue to update as I can on the church plant and more importantly on what God is doing here in our area.

Intentionally Bless Someone Every Day

As we prepare for this Christmas season, it will be easy to get caught up in the secular meaning of Christmas. To prepare for family gatherings, to go shopping and make sure we have gifts for everyone. We spend a ton of time decorating our houses.

Many believers will take the time to attend the extra church services, to give a little extra, adopt a family for Christmas and so many other great acts of service.

These are all great things and I encourage everyone to continue these activities. But I wanted to share something that we can do consciously every day, something small that takes very little time away from our already busy schedules. But it’s something that can make a huge difference in peoples lives, including your own.

Intentionally Bless Someone Every Day

This can sound scary or overly complicated. In reality in can be something as small as a hello or a smile to a stranger on the street. Could be telling a child that you like their shoes or that it is a cool shirt they are wearing. Asking someone if you could say a quick little prayer over them. Praying for people on your drive to work. Pay for the person behind you in the drive-thru.

Don’t forget those in your own home. Thank your spouse for something they do for you (probably something they do everyday). Tell your children you love them. Or that they look nice today. Or that they did a great job on a small chore you asked them to do. Call your parents, just to talk.

I could go on and on, but the point is to intentionally bless people that you meet everyday.

Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

James 1:27

Religion is not about ceremonies or rules. Religion is about how we care for those in need. How we treat those that cross our paths everyday. How we give back from the blessings that God has given to us.


Let me share a quick story. Years ago, my wife and I were coming back to Christ and looking for a church home. Some friends had invited us to visit the church they attend, they church that later became known as Rivertree Jackson. On the Sunday morning, we walked into the church, a large church with a couple thousand in attendance over a weekend, into the atrium and stood looking for our friends. Before we could find them, a gentleman walked up to us and shook our hands, welcomed us and pointed us in the direction of the coffee. A simple encounter that truly made us feel welcome.

We grabbed our coffee, found our friends and went into the service. When the service began and the pastor walked on stage, we realized that the man who had greeted us was the same man who had welcomed us to the church. See my wife grew up in a Catholic church, I in a very conservative, old school Protestant church where the priests were seen as more elite and it would have been a real stretch for them to truly greet people and point them towards the coffee. Both of our experiences growing up were that church was not a welcoming place, especially for newcomers.

This intentional blessing of us, but simple welcoming us to the church had a huge impact. The pastor probably doesn’t even remember that day as it was probably quite ordinary to him. To us, it is etched into our memories and has truly impacted us in so many ways.


What I hope has been obvious from this post, is that a simple, very small blessing can have a huge impact on those being blessed. What we give back to God, God will make grow exponentially.

I wrote a few years back this post on How to Change the World. The small things you do, truly can change the world.

Be intentional.

He will always pursue us, even when we aren’t pursuing him.

Every year it seems I fall into a pattern with my writing here on this blog. About this time of year, the end of summer and beginning of fall, I start to write more. This will last through the fall and winter. Once the new year kicks in, I slowly start slowing down and usually around spring, I stop with only an occasional post throughout the spring and summer and then it all starts over again in August/September.

Why is that? I’ve thought about this for years actually as I’ve noticed this pattern in many areas of my spiritual life. With my kids playing baseball and with me coaching the sport, my spring and summer are typically pretty busy and the busyness of life gets in my way. I find my quiet time, my prayer time starts to wane. We often forgo church because of games or just a general weariness and wanting to spend the day resting.

This is not something I’m proud of and it’s something I try and repent of and get better at. But something I realize is that every fall when I begin to come around, God is right there. I realize in that moment that actually God was never gone. The entire time that I’m walking my own way, God is pursuing me. So much so, that once I turn around and start to look for God again in my life, he is already there. In fact, he has never left me.

Look at the story of the prodigal son. The son, left the father and went his own way. When he eventually comes around and realizes his mistakes and makes his journey back home, we get this verse;

So he got up and went to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.

Luke 15:20

When the son was returning home and was still a longs ways off. His father saw him. See the father was watching for him, pursuing him and hoping for his return. If he hadn’t loved his son and awaiting his return, he wouldn’t have been watching for him and see him as he was returning.

God watches for us and his always there when we turn around and cry out to him. He is always there.

I revealed myself to those who did not ask for me;
I was found by those who did not seek me.
To a nation that did not call on my name,
I said, ‘Here am I, here am I.’

All day long I have held out my hands
to an obstinate people,
who walk in ways not good,
pursuing their own imaginations

Isaiah 65:1-2

God loves us so much, he feels we are so valuable and so precious, that he never gives up on us. He always follows after us saying “Here am I.”

%d bloggers like this: