An Example of Wackiness, Love, and Faith

1 Timothy 4:12 “Let no one despise your youth, but be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity.”

Aunt Lavon would do wacky things.  She was fun-loving, always had a smile, and was a deeply caring person.

For many years as a child I just knew her as the sister of my Dad who was crazy and fun.  She was the aunt who had so much fun playing the game Spoons that the neighbors could hear and would wonder what was going on over at  the Dunkle’s house.  She would dive across the table to get a spoon in this card game.  It was no holds barred. Aunt Lavon on right

Instead of writing letters, she would sometimes record a tape (yes this was before email and YouTube).  She would talk about their family, which cousin was in which sport, how work was going, etc.  She would also sing.  Yes, she would sing some of her favorite songs acapella.  She also would record some her favorite songs and provide commentary on why she loved it so much.  One song I distinctly remember was “Rushing Wind” by Keith Green.  He sang about being cleansed from our sin and the Holy Spirit entering his life after being born again.  It later became a favorite of mine.

When we visited her home, we always went to church.  It was different from our church.  There was more emphasis on looking at the Bible, talking about Jesus’ sacrifice for us, and this serious discussion about salvation. People at her church were friendly!  And, man, they loved the Lord.

In my early teens I found out the source of her joy and zest for life.  It was her faith in Christ.  I learned of it slowly through news she would share with us and gifts and cards she would send me.

She took a personal interest in me and my spiritual state.  I was her first nephew and she would tease me that I couldn’t hide anything from her because she used to change my diapers.  Usually this discussion happened in front of others for embarrassment purposes.The Way

On one of my birthdays she sent me a Bible.  It was a “fresh” translation targeted toward the younger generation.  Many remember it as the green, hardback Bible called “The Way.” 

In it she wrote the following:

“Shawn Barr – May you find that peace for your life that only is found in Jesus Christ.  The following I am sharing with you from my Bible – sayings I’ve written in my Bible over the years.  May He bless your life in every way. You are loved. All my Love, Aunt Lavon”

Here are the sayings she shared:

* I have to stand for something or I’ll fall for anything.

* Christians shouldn’t be satisfied to die on 3rd base when they could go on to Home with the Winning Run.

* Responsibility – The response is to come from us, and the ability will come from Him.

* I would rather burn out for Jesus than rust out for Him.

* History – His Story.

* Money is an instrument that can buy you everthing but happiness and pay your fare for every place but Heaven.

* Love is something you “do”!

* If justice was an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth, we’d all be blind and toothless!

*Shawn Barr – You are loved!

She closed with: “My commitment of love to you: to pray for you everyday the rest of my life. Aunt Lavon.”

Her investment of love and prayer in me changed my life.  The example of joyful, Christian living was contagious.  Shortly after receiving this Bible, I found Christ as my own Savior and gained assurance that I was reconciled to God because of Him.

Several years ago her commitment of praying for me ended as she died tragically.  However, her example will never die.  I’ll always remember her great love for Christ and others.

The Church needs more “Aunt Lavons” – people willing to be an example and invest in others.  I pray I can be that person for someone else.  And may I ask, who will be able to point to you in the same way someday? There are people right around you who need you to love them, invest in them, and stand up and be an example.

Decide to become a difference-maker to someone today.


Most Misused Verse of All Time…?


“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” – Phil 4:13 

What a great promise!  But what is it a promise for? This may be the most misused verse of all time. 

God does promise to help us and strengthen us in all situations.  But people have used this verse in some interesting ways. Here’s a sample of how you might hear it applied: 

  • “God will help me make the 35 foot winning jumpshot”
  • “God will help me with this financial disaster”
  • “God will help me fix this lawn mower”
  • “God will help me get this virus off my computer”
  • “God will help me with ______________ problem” 

Continue reading

My Personal Aldersgate


I had probably just been chasing my sister, climbing our apple tree, shooting my BB gun or something else a 13-yr old boy would be doing on a sunny Saturday afternoon. Then I remembered about confirmation class in the morning.  I needed to do my lesson.   

“Uggghhh”, I thought. 

The class wasn’t boring as such, just required. So in 1978 I and every other 7th grader in our church were going through this lesson series with Reverend Wolcott, our minister.   Continue reading

Playground Love


We met on the merry-go-round, or close to it.  My wife and I knew each other in elementary school.  We weren’t a “hot” item at first because my braces, blue glasses and favorite green pants didn’t quite highlight my hunkish physique and rugged good looks. Our romance started later, in high school, and led to getting married at the tender ages of 20 and 21.    Continue reading

Classic Conversion Stories – John Wesley


John Wesley was miserable.   

If anyone should have been confident about their “religion” it was Wesley. After all, he had been a missionary to the Indians; he was an Anglican priest; he had done open air evangelism; he had been involved in prison ministry. He was an Oxford scholar. His personal spiritual habits included reading the Bible and regular prayer. He was sensitive to sin and tried to do what was right and holy.  

However, none of these activities or positions had given him peace about his own destiny.  Was he right with God?  Was he saved?  Was he going to heaven? All of these questions plagued him. 

Continue reading

Jesus said, “Drinks on me!”


The dusty saloon doors swing open as a cowboy enters.  He swaggers to the bar, slaps down a fistful of dollars and says, “Drinks for everyone on me!”  People raise their glasses and shout, some clap, and some say, “3 cheers for our new friend”.   

What a great deal for those in the saloon that night; a free drink from a stranger.  It wasn’t asked for.  This cowboy just gave it in honor of something he wanted to celebrate, perhaps a successful trail ride.  Whatever his reason, most people gratefully lift their mug and accept the free gift.   

But imagine a table in the corner of the room with several whiskered gamblers.  Continue reading

Girls and Bunnies


The blanket was filled with little girls and baby rabbits. “Dad, can I keep this one?!” My daughter held the 2-week old baby rabbit to her chest. “We’ll see,” I said.  The two girls had been playing with the furry bunnies for 30 minutes. They were no bigger than teacups. The girls “Oohhhed” and “Aaahhhed” as they picked up one then another of the tiny fur balls with twitching noses.  It seemed they couldn’t cuddle or hug the nine babies enough; little girls loving littler rabbits.

It reminded me of God’s love for the world. Continue reading