Lemonade Stand

Hanging out with my niece and nephew is awesome. It’s eye opening, energizing and taxing physically because of their youth and vibrant imagination! One minute we are talking about the value of telling the truth, the next about farts, doing the Dab, and dancing to Crazy Frog or Michael Jackson’s “Bad” on YouTube.

It’s been a busy year, I’ve become a dad, done a ship deployment, and begun a challenging new assignment. So having their parents & them visit this summer from Minnesota was special, sharing new aspects of our life, and a great change of pace. Sometimes it’s a little tough to shift gears between work, being a husband, dad or host, but I wouldn’t miss it to see them.

Their first 4 days I spent away at San Clemente Island for training, so when I came back I knew it was Uncle Time!

That next afternoon I took them to Dairy Queen. On the way home, tummies full of Oreo, M&M & Reese’s Blizzard, we stopped at a big local GasMart called the NEX.

I gave them each $2 and said that this was their budget to find something they liked. E., my nephew, quickly settled on a candy Pushpop but wanted to double-check the cost. I said, “It’s $2”, he corrected me, “Actually it’s $1.93, Uncle Kristian.”

M., my niece, wanted to spend her $2 on a couple poster boards to help advertise a lemonade stand. We proceeded to the register for the big purchases.

E. must have taken three minutes to pay using at least 18 pennies and assorted coins. The patient cashier with respectful diligence counted and stacked them and gave him his Pushpop. Carrying the candy and big posterboards we walked out of the NEX.

Let me be honest. E. & M. had been enthusiastically talking about this stand for what seemed hours. E. wanted to offer free rides in my ’95 Nissan Pickup as an attraction. He had helped me wash it, prepping it for sale the day before.

He was sure that rides would bring in the kids.

M. was more concerned about offering multiple flavors, like pink lemonade, and using fresh squeezed lemons and real sugar. She suggested we sell it for 10 cents.

You know sometimes you don’t realize you are getting old and too logical, but this happened to me during the lemonade stand planning cell meeting we had there riding around in my Red Ford Taurus.

I told M. that she had to sell cups for at least a quarter. After all real lemons would be involved!

In my heart I was just playmaking and thought,

They don’t even live in this neighborhood, and we don’t know the neighbors well, who will come?

My logic carried on, maybe this will happen in 3 or 4 days when I have a weekend…but probably the idea will fizzle out.

I asked them, “what’s pink Lemonade made from?”

E. said, “I think it has Grapefruit in it.”

Then I thought of the girl three houses down who already had a monopoly on the lemonade market. (I think she sometimes used a megaphone and coercion that the Marines would get you if you didn’t make a purchase.) No, we can’t compete with her, things could get ugly.

Fast Forward. That next morning I put on my boots and Type 3 working uniform, and noticed an unusual quiet emanating from our back patio. Yes silence has a sound all its own to a parent!

And there were M. & E. working, they had mostly knocked out their initial promotion poster boards…and they looked good!!

I confess I still wasn’t a believer. I gave them a hug and some cheap but well-meant words like, “Wow, great poster boards, so much detail and excellent marketing too”, and left for work.

I came home that afternoon to a surprising scene.

There they were, with customers!! Rocking that lemonade stand.

I rolled my window down.

“I’d like one! Looks delicious!” I wanted to act like a stranger to add to the vibe of excited customers.

“Can you make change?” Handing my niece a $5 dollar bill. She said “Sure!” and went right for the petty cash jar that was formerly our coin savings bank, once located on the Kitchen Counter.

Her sign read, “LEMONADE. 10 Cents!”

“Just give me $4 back”, I called out from my car.

Now a young boy came, stoked to see Ice Pops available too, for 10 cents.

Man!! They had held out on me regarding their marketing strategy. It was so hot in San Diego. What a stroke of genius.

Then my nephew said to me and to the boys gathered. “Hey, do you want a Bible? They’re really cool!”

What? Giving out Bibles? E. had literally raided this Chaplain’s garage and taken out my “Daily Strength for The Battle” Devotionals by Chaplain Scott McChrystal and was sending handfuls of them away to kids and families who stopped by.

Umm, yes he’d skipped asking permission to give out these little books (written to shore up military families with stories and truth from God’s Word) but I don’t blame him. Should we ask permission to give away a Bible book not being used?

As my vignette here comes to a close, I must say that I got into what they were doing that afternoon! I felt like Robin Williams back in Neverland, almost like a young Peter Pan, who’d learned to fly again. It was invigorating and fresh to my Spirit.

How had they pulled it off? It was ice cold. It was tart and zinged! It had the right balance of sugar, yummy and sweet. They had brand new plastic cups–where had those come from?

And the stand of books were all laid out in neat rows.

I want to make an observation, M. & E. did more outreach to my military housing unit in 2 hours than we’d done in 3 years! My eye had been on my shipmates back onboard the Cruiser; my heart focused on my wife, a new mother, and our sweet joy, little Isak.

But where I saw inadequate planning and resources, not enough time, not a large enough market–this 7 & 9 year old duo saw fun, opportunity and a whimsical “what-if-wouldn’t-that-be-so-cool” childlike kind of dream to bring to life no matter what!

They met tons of kids in those two hours. They made good money. People gave way more than 10 cents. One guy handed a $5 and said “Keep it!”

He got it. I on the other hand didn’t really until it was done.

They shared and showed Jesus’ love so naturally.


My devotional time with the Lord has been a little scarce as a new dad. So I guess, knowing that, He mercifully threw in some lessons from the Lemonade Stand to help me along. Here they are.

“Love your Neighbor”, is part of the greatest command from Jesus. And I need to do it. Like E. & M did to our whole neighborhood that afternoon.

“Out of the mouths of infants You have ordained praise.” Forgive me Lord for missing Your hand moving through these children. You are awesome and bigger than my adult-minded limitations. Give me “Faith Like a Child.” And may I always give a seat at the planning table, or a microphone, to children to help lead us on mission (trips) and in worship.

Bibles are cool. They are God’s Word. And without shame E. gave them out. Wow. I want to be like that.

“He will give you the desires of your heart.”

May I be more tuned to the Holy Spirit when he puts zany ideas in my son Isak’s mind (or in my wife’s heart or mine), not crushing them with self-protecting cold hard logic…let me dream a little and tread carefully on what could soon become Holy Ground trimmed out with a Lemonade Stand.

*I want to dedicate this story to Romina, M. & E.’s mom. She was the force that God’s Spirit used to bring dreams to life.

**If you enjoyed this reflection check out Bob Goff’s book “Love Does”. A mentor, pastor Sean Wiles, recommended it. It’s about whimsical, Holy Spirit-led, unlikely and amazing happenings in his life worth hearing.



Night Ops With 2-D Jesus


Aboard ship, plastic and metal are sorted and sent off-ship to be disposed of, but due to limited space we cast the bio-degradable excess food and paper waste overboard.

It’s kind of a cathartic heave that we call “Night Ops.” It has a finality to it, and is often done under the cover of darkness.

The Jesus Christ we meet in the book of Mark is so compelling that we must cast overboard the oversimplified Jesus we may have come to hold on to. The real 3-D Jesus, means to do away, lightning fast, with our misconceptions of Him and His kingdom. It’s not to shock us, but there’s fire in His eyes. It flows from the purity of His love that will not be muted, redirected or dampened. He must be for us the true Savior. There’s no domesticating Him, no making Him docile. For Jesus knows that such a 2-D Savior can’t save.

A 2-D conception of Jesus may come from Christmas and Easter stories we know.

The Miracle Baby in Bethlehem…
Or the picture of the Suffering Jewish Messiah we see on the cover of Time and Newsweek every Easter.

If we grew up in Sunday School or have read the Gospels, our conception is fuller.
He fed 5000 with just 5 loaves and 2 fish.
He walked on water!
He healed the blind…
Was betrayed by Judas one of His most trusted friends.

But, I have a feeling, that over the years, our understanding of Jesus has flattened, become more comfortable than the true “Jesus”…he’s 2 dimensional. Not quite real-life.

So, my friends, you know those habits we want to kick during deployment?

carrying high debt on plastic,
living over-weight,
reversing animosity or coldness that’s come to harm our love relationships…

Let’s consider kicking another even more destructive pattern. Let’s do night-ops with the 2-D Jesus! Throw him far, and fast over the side for good.

Now’s the time to do it! As we get into the groove of early Deployment, we can recalibrate and correct. If we don’t, the sinful patterns in our lives that harm us and our loved ones will remain unreached.

But if we “night-ops” the 2-D Jesus, we’ll truly say hello to the real Jesus,
powerful, active,
even revolutionary and surprising…and be met by Him, in the pages of Mark as we study. Then experienced in real life, worshiped and obeyed, known intimately by us as God’s revealed only Son.

2-D Jesus can’t save me, or you. He’s too pliable, soft, conventional to be trusted as CO of your life, but the real Jesus is worthy to be Master. He’s Lord of Eternity. Let’s look for Him friends, and not settle till we do. If we do I’m convinced our faith will spring to life—

3-D Jesus will come to visit us and bring His Kingdom Life to the passageways, workspaces, ladder wells and berthing of this 567 foot warship that for over half a year of our lives is now home. He’s here. Present to change our lives for eternity.


As we set out studying Mark, here’s some background.

John-Mark wrote between 55-65 CE, most likely from Rome where he was a respected Church leader. He is describing the events of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection that took place just 20-30 years before in Ancient Palestine.

Mark was a mentee of Peter’s, and a relative of Barnabas, a critical leader of the early church who was a close associate of the Apostle Paul.

Mark was bilingual, comfortable in Greek and Hebrew language and culture. His name reflects that, John being Hebrew and Mark, of Greek origin.

His Gospel often explains Jewish backgrounds to events, and translates the Aramaic words that Jews would have known. In this, we can sense that Mark wants to translate to his Roman audience who Jesus is.

Rome had a warrior culture based on ethics and law. Commoners could rise to great levels of leadership. You’ll notice in the book of Mark there are no genealogies pointing out Jesus’ pedigree to show a well-connected heritage. Jesus is the humble Son of Man.

Jesus, Mark wants us to see, is full of action. 18 miracles are recorded, while the parables mentioned are only 4.

This Jesus speaks and means it.
He confronts the powers that be.
Stirs the pot.

Awes his disciples and the crowds. He would have impressed many Romans too. John-Mark writes assured of this.
Some themes of Mark are how the cost of discipleship will involve suffering but lead to victory and freedom.

When we observe Jesus’s surprising authoritative actions we should ask “Who is this man?” And…as we find ourselves surprised by His actions or reactions, also ask, “did I know this about Jesus?”

Our Text for Today: Mark 1:21-28

Then they went into Capernaum, and immediately on the Sabbath He entered the synagogue and taught. And they were astonished at His teaching, for He taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes Now there was a man in their synagogue with an unclean spirit. And he cried out, saying, “Let us alone! What have we to do with You, Jesus of Nazareth? Did You come to destroy us? I know who You are—The Holy One of God!”

But Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be quiet, and come out of him!”

And when the unclean Spirit had convulsed him and cried out with a loud voice, he came out of him.

Then they were all amazed, so that they questioned among themselves, saying “What is this? What new doctrine is this? For with authority He commands even the unclean spirits and they obey Him.”

And immediately His fame spread throughout all the region around Galilee.”

As we meet Jesus, early on we find–He’s got guts! Jesus didn’t go into the Synagogue the way the establishment might expect a bright new teacher to break the ice, methodically and respectfully building a name for himself, quoting lots of great Rabbis and giving his own unique spin. No, the Jesus, Mark introduces us to, went in to smash tablets!

Here in the synagogue, in his first public appearances, He’s not the soft spoken, gentlemen scholar…

Don’t picture Jesus pushin’ up rounded glasses on his nose, wearing a long robe and nasally offering up some words hesitatingly:

“I think maybe we’ve begun to stretch just a little too far our understanding of Sabbath requirements…

You know, why don’t we, ahem (nervously)

Consider a slight, ahem,

Course correction to our theology…and remember its, uh,

important to do good on this date, the Sabbath, too.

And remember, ahem,

(clears throat searching for approval from the prying eyes of the encircling Scribal Lawyers and impassioned towering Pharisaic Rabbinical Teachers)

Why the Good Lord made this day in the first place.

But NO. This won’t be Jesus’ way. He’s not political. The Real Jesus, 3-D Jesus is forthright.

With a few words and big deeds, Jesus upends these debaters–Scholars and legal geniuses, steeped in Judaism’s ever expanding oral tradition. He knows how to get his point across and he does it boldly, fearlessly. It’s love. But in a love-way we’ve never known.

Pure as fire.

Pure as the gaze of One who has no ill-intention, whatsoever. But who will not be derailed, distracted, moved even an inch from the truth, the surgical seismic shift that the Kingdom brings.

No, with a SHOT across the bow he speaks out!

STRETCH OUT YOUR HAND! Healing done. (Mark 3:1-6)

DEMON. OUT! And QUIET! Unclean Spirit tears outta there. (Mark 1:21-28)

Nope, this is not the Swedish Jesus with the Beauty Sash that Pastor Rob Bell warned us about. This is the Jesus who can save lives, even Yours and mine.

     NOTE: ‘A shot across the bows’ derives from the naval practice of firing a cannon shot
    across the bows of an opponent’s ship to show them that you are prepared to do battle. A
warning shot, either real or metaphorical.

One Scholar says that there’s such fast movement to Mark, from scene to scene; immediately this, then THAT happened…(42x “immediately—euthus” in Greek is used) it’s as if Mark is breathless and can barely contain the news. Because it’s not meant just for Him, for Jerusalem and Israel who first heard it, or just for Rome…it’s news of the in breaking of the Savior for everyone. The Heaven’s are rent. All is changed. The Lord has come down. (Isaiah 64 and Mark 1:9-11.)


The next 4 weeks we’ll look at the 16 chapters of Mark’s Gospel. Four each week. We’ll get close up to Jesus, where His troubling and surprising actions can force us to consider who He really is. And what His Lordship in our own lives, aboard Bunker Hill, are to mean.

From the first four chapters I encourage you to think about the following surprises of Jesus’ Kingdom way and Kingdom message.

-His Confrontational Lordship

(Mark 3:20-30 Searing, Fearless Return of Fire to the Powerful Opposition)

-His Unlikely Choice of Followers

(Mark 1:16-20 the Four Fishermen, Mark 2:13-17 The Tax Collector)

-His Rare Determination and Intentionality

(Mark 1:35-39) I must go to other towns…

-His Willingness to Break with Tradition

(Mark 3:1-6, Healing on Sabbath)

(Mark 2:23-27 Picking Heads of Grain on the Sabbath)

-His 3-D Humanness & Personality

        (One of the Key Functions of God giving us 4 Gospels…is we receive not four ancient
        “photos”of Jesus but four Holy Spirit-breathed portraits, supernaturally designed to                  bring out the texture in the personality of our Lord. )

-Surprised by Indignation:

(Mark 1:40-41) (NIV)

-His righteous Anger:

(Mark 3:1-6)   (Pharisees’ Stubborn Lack of Mercy, Hardened view of God’s Torah)

-His Being Impressed by others’ Faith:

(Mark 2:1-12)

-The Wide Inclusion of All in His Message

(Mark 2:13-17 Eating with Tax Collectors and Sinner)

-His Culminating Messianic Entrance –Rejected though Perfect in Time and Space

          (Mark 1:9-11)

         At His baptism, the scene perfectly portrays God’s prophetic promise fulfilled. He
has come down to rend the heavens (Isaiah 64:1-5)

        We also encounter a suffering servant to lead Israel (Isaiah 40:3) (Malachi 3:1)

Challenge: Read through the first 4 chapters of Mark this week.

Prayer: Lord, I’m doing some Night-Ops as I begin deployment (or whatever new faith-demanding venture you’ve begun). I’m chucking the 2-D Jesus that can’t change my life or save me. That 2-D Jesus is going deep down with a cannon-ball crash into the South Pacific. Instead, I’m getting on my knees, imploring you to reveal to me the Real Jesus Christ, revealed by John-Mark in Your Word. This Jesus, though I’m frightened to commit to it, I will serve and obey, if only You’ll reveal Him to me by your loving, HOLY, ever-present Spirit. Amen.