“Stay weird. Stay different…”

Last night at the 87th annual Academy Awards show in California, young writer Graham Moore took home the “Oscar” for Best Adapted Screenplay for the movie “The Imitation Game.”

In his acceptance speech Graham gave a stirring and moving account of some of his earlier struggles in life. Listen in…

“I tried to commit suicide at 16 and now I am standing here. I would like for this moment to be for that kid out there who feels like she doesn’t fit in anywhere. You do! Stay weird. Stay different, and when it’s your turn and you are standing on this stage, please pass the same message along.”


Here’s some good news for the day!
You are weird! You are different!
I am weird! I am different!

Whew… glad we got that out of the way.
The simple truth is really not all that simplistic.
Who told us we were supposed to be “normal?”
Who was in charge of defining the parameters, the limitations and the constrictions of “normal?”
Why did we listen to them?
Why on God’s green earth did we bend over backward, stress out over a few pimples, compromise our ethics, eviscerate our personhood, dumb down our value system and so as to “fit in”, all the while denying the very attributes that collide together to make us the beautiful, fascinating, intriguing, interesting, gorgeous, “weird and different” people that we are?

On Facebook today one of my friends wrote…”I was a really weird little kid…”
I find that funny in the sense that I never thought of her in any other way than just a fun girl friend who was very enjoyable to hang out with.

I have a feeling we all felt like “really weird little kids” at some point in our lives. Perhaps we still do.

When I was in Junior High everyone had to give an oral book report. Everyone got up there and did a marvelous job. I got up in front of the class and just started crying. Seventh grade boys “don’t cry.” Well, I did and I was ridiculed and humiliated. In eighth grade when it came time to do the oral book reports, I just went ahead and took an “F.” In ninth grade in Mr. Leigh’s English class I delayed my oral book report for four days until I finally got up there on a Monday morning after spending twelve hours over the weekend memorizing twelve pages of my book report.

I preach for a living now!! How crazy is that?
I could spend the next few pages writing to you about how weird and different I am.
And guess what?
You could too!

Here’s the joy of the matter.
I told my future wife on our second date, “People are whacked! People are weird. They are different. We all have bizarre idiosyncrasies. And if you will simply accept the fact that I am whacked and then I will accept the fact that you are whacked, then we will get along just fine.”

Ever since that second date… We have gotten along just fine!

God has fearfully and wonderfully made you from scratch. There is no one like you! You are weird. You are different! You are unique! You are “one of a kind!” You are special! You are one in seven billion! You are a masterpiece!!

So… Let me echo Graham Moore’s sentiments to you today…

Stay weird!
Stay different!

Who knows?
You just might get an “Oscar” for being “Best Original!”

For you formed my inward parts;
    you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
    my soul knows it very well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
    intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
    the days that were formed for me,
    when as yet there was none of them. (Psalm 139. 13-16)

Laugh often and Fear not!


Superman has died…

I call my friend Tim Amuchastegui “Superman!”
He is indeed a Super Man!!

About a year ago Tim was hit head on with the kryptonite of pancreatic cancer.
As we know, Superman has a lot of powers but the powers of kryptonite are just too much.

And so it was last night that my phone rang at 1:17 am central time and I heard Superman’s Lois Lane, his heart broken wife Cec on the phone letting me know that the angels had descended and ever so gently and even more ever so peacefully taken her love of forty years, to escort him to the heavenly kingdom where Tim was welcomed with thunderous applause.
Superman now rests in the arms of the greatest Super Man that ever lived – Jesus.

Together they laugh…they smile… they talk…they hold on tight to each other as Tim’s eyes start to take in the surroundings of eternity… Already Tim feels like he’s been there 10,000 years just like the song Amazing Grace says…

I have so much to say, to write, to share…but my heart is broken too.
So…If you will allow me, I would like to share what I wrote last April on the day of Tim’s surgery…

Tuesday, April 29, 2014


Tim Amuchastegui
Faster than a speeding bullet!
More powerful than a locomotive!
Able to leap tall buildings in a single bound!
“Look, up in the sky! It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s SUPERMAN!”
Yes, it’s Superman, strange visitor from another planet, who came to Earth with powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal men.
Superman, who can change the course of mighty rivers, bend steel in his bare hands, and who, disguised as Clark Kent, mild mannered reporter for a great metropolitan newspaper, fights a never-ending battle for truth, justice and the American way!
You have probably figured out by now that the man in the picture above is not the Superman of the Television series.
It’s just my friend Tim.
Mild mannered builder/architect from Klamath Falls, Oregon.
He’s not very fast. He might post a 13 second run in the 40 yard dash.
He’s not very strong. Probably weighs in at less than 150 these days.
At best, his vertical leap is around 8 inches.
I love this photo of him wearing a Superman Shirt.
At the time this photo was taken he was about two hours away from having life threatening pancreatic cancer surgery.
He’s in his hotel room surrounded by family.
This photo showed up on my phone a week ago today.
His incredible wife Cec texted it to me at 5:00 in the morning.
As I gazed at my friend, my brother in Christ and looked at that “S” on his shirt, I wondered what that “S” might stand for:
“Scared S***less?”
My phone rang 20 minutes after this photo was taken.
It was “The Incredible Wife Cec”!
Her voice was upbeat… “Now David, we have everyone in the hotel room here (family that is). And we are going to put the phone down right in the middle of all of us and we are going to circle up around the phone and hold hands and oh, by the way you are on speaker phone and we want you to pray for us before we go to the hospital. Ok David, are you ready? We are ready for your prayer…”
And so I prayed and I prayed and my voice was strong and then it was weak and then it quivered and then I cried as I invoked upon the name of the Lord God almighty to do a “super” miraculous healing work on a most “super man” who is a brother, a husband, a dad, a father-in-law, a grandfather and a friend.
And then I said, “And everyone said, (And together we said) “Amen!”
There was a moment of silence as we all collected ourselves and then Tim’s deep, slow, melodic voice came over the speaker…”David, thank you…”
And then, “The Incredible Wife Cec” came on and offered her thanks and her love and we hung up.
And they were off to the hospital, for surgery, to remove a cancer that has taken the life away from so many other people…
My iWitness…
I’ve gazed upon this picture of Tim from time to time all week…
My eyes always turn first to the light that seems to be coming out of his left armpit right near his heart.
The backdrop of a hotel room looks ever so familiar to me as I spent six years living in hotels from week to week.
The two clinched fists speak volumes of the inner strength that Tim has found through our Lord and God.
His face evokes confidence and calmness in the midst of life’s greatest storm.
And then there is the “S”…
What does that “S” stand for?
Here’s my take…
Surrounded by a loving family…
Secure in the loving knowledge that he is in the hollow of God’s hand and God never lets go!
Saved by the blood of Jesus Christ who loves Tim more than Tim will ever know.
Serene – Jesus is able to give us a sense of peace that passes all understanding.
Strong – When we are weak, God makes us strong. I know that that is an oxymoron and rather paradoxical, but all I can say at the moment is that Tim is at his strongest right now.
Last but not least…
Tim is a super man because of a Super Man who came into this world about 2,000 years ago with powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal men. A man who changed the course of history, bent the most bent out of shape people back into shape, loved the unlovable, spared the condemned and fights a never ending battle for the way, the truth and the life so that we may enjoy life and life eternal.
I don’t know about you, but I think that is Super!
And that’s my iWitness…
Laugh often and Fear not!
ps – A week out of from the above photo there are two more words that come to mind when I look at the letter “S”…


But he (Jesus) said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12. 9-10)

Laugh often and Fear not!




The number twenty-one plays an unusual role in our modern day culture.
You have to be 21 years old to legally consume an alcoholic beverage.
At eighteen years of age you can enlist in the armed services, vote, be tried as an adult in a court of law, can live on your own, take out a loan, apply for a credit card, but you cannot drink alcohol legally.
If you served in the military, at your funeral there will be a 21 gun salute.
If you want to buy a house you can contact a realtor at Century 21.
We currently live in the 21st century.
Have enough “21’s” in a row in Las Vegas and you go home a rich person from the Blackjack table.
If you like to shop and feel young at the same time then simply buy all your clothes at “Forever 21.”
According to the movie “21 Grams”, our soul weighs twenty-one grams.

If that be the case then heaven gained four hundred and forty-one grams today as 21 Christians from Egypt were beheaded in Libya today.

Count ’em…1 – 2 – 3 – 4 – 5 – 6 – 7 – 8 – 9 -10 – 11 – 12 – 13 – 14 – 15 – 16 – 17 – 18 – 19 – 20 – 21…


For close to two thousand years men, women and children of the Christian faith have been mocked, tortured, slain, murdered, crucified, beheaded, maimed, burned, beaten, ridiculed, and much more…all because we follow a man named Jesus.

As reprehensible and barbaric as it is to read of 21 Christians being beheaded, it should not be surprising that we, as a people have come under such great persecution.

Jesus said such things would happen to those who would count the cost of discipleship and then choose to do that which the early disciples did…”Follow him.”

Intrinsic to the cost and the joy of following Jesus is the ridicule and the mocking that we find along the way. The question is oftentimes raised, “Why don’t Christians get all riled up when cartoonists depict Jesus in a cartoonish sort of way? Why don’t Christians flinch when so called “art” depicts Jesus in a light that is completely antithetical to the very “Light” He cast?

The answer is quite simple. (Please don’t get simple confused with simplistic. Sometimes being simple is the most complex, complicated and difficult thing to do and be!)

We worship a suffering Savior!
We bow down to the One who was mocked, spit upon, beaten, stripped, whipped, and ultimately nailed to a cross beam of rough hewn wood.
It’s in our DNA as Christians to suffer like Christ in order to be Christ-like.

Being counted as a fool for Christ…
Being ostracized for loving the One who was crucified between two thieves…
Being ridiculed for following the One who offers the most ridiculous amount of grace and mercy and love…
Being taunted for touting the faith in One whom has all the faith in the world in us…
Being discriminated against for discovering the joy of walking with the Light of the World who limps with us…
Being mocked for believing in Jesus who in turns believes in His children…
Being laughed at for trusting in the One who laughed out loud at death itself…

Well…We as Christians call that an honor, a blessing, a joy, a sign of obedience, a celebration and a cause to go out and share even more the love of Jesus with everyone we meet.

Listen now to what Jesus says…

“But all these things they will do to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me.

Do you know where you can find that verse?

Here’s the answer…
The gospel according to John,
The fifteenth chapter,
Verse 21

Laugh often and Fear not!






My Four Year Old Date

It happens every Friday at 3:15 pm, fifteen minutes before the school bus arrives.
Every Friday without fail.
I wouldn’t miss this date for the world.

Every Friday around 3:10 pm I grab my six foot by six foot orange striped blanket/towel. I walk out my front door and turn left and ease my way past four houses and at the fifth house I spread out my soft blanket and lay it on the coarse St. Augustine grass. I lay down on the towel and prop myself up on my left elbow and wait.

I don’t have to wait long before the front door of the fifth house opens up and here comes Levi. On his left shoulder he carries an insulated soft sided cooler that contains four very important items. One twelve ounce can of Coke. One seven and a half ounce can of Coke. Two small bags of Trail Mix.

We open up the bag and a surprise look flashes across my face every Friday, “Look at what your mom packed for us! Two Cokes and two bags of Trail Mix! Wow!” Levi’s face lights up like a Christmas tree. I pull out two miniature red solo cups and pour Coke into them. We raise our glasses and click them together and proudly say, “Cheers!” Levi’s pronunciation is more like “Tweers.”

And so begins my wonderful, weekly, warm Four Year Old Date…


This past Friday I asked Levi what he was going to do on Saturday. His answer was quick and decisive. “I don’t get to spend time with you on Saturdays. Only on Fridays.”

This is true. Only on Fridays do we get to laugh on the lawn and chug our Cokes.

I spoke to Levi’s mom about this and her eyes became as big and round as saucers. “Every day Levi wakes up and asks what day it is. When I tell him that it is not Friday, he immediately flops back down on the bed. But when I do tell him that it is Friday, he straightens right up, jumps out of bed and gets dressed right away and all day long he asks, ‘Is it time yet? Is it time to go outside and see David?'”

The anticipation is almost more than Levi can take. The front door on Fridays opens up and Levi almost rushes as fast as he can so that he can sit down on the orange striped blanket, look me in the eye and have our fifteen minutes together alone before the bus arrives and a slew of the neighborhood kids come bounding off.

It has become a ritual, a rite of passage and a holy time for a four year old and a fifty-one year old to come together and share a snack and a Coke together.

Of the two of us, the fifty-one year old and the four year old, which one of us represents Jesus the most? What would you say?

I believe you have guessed correctly.
Levi, the four year old best represents Jesus in my eyes on this weekly encounter.
In reality it’s Jesus who waits all day, every day to meet us face to face.
Jesus can’t wait to hear the sound of our voice.
Jesus can’t wait to be in our presence.
Jesus can’t wait to gaze lovingly into our eyes.
Jesus can’t wait to raise a cup with us and shout, “Cheers!”
Jesus can’t wait to lay down on our blanket and just shoot the breeze.
Jesus can’t wait to listen to our heart of hearts.
Jesus drives the angels crazy in heaven as he asks over and over, “Is today the day that I get to talk to one of my children?”

And so it is… Levi the four year old is Jesus to me and I, David Dendy, the fifty-one year old preacher is the child.

It’s amazing what spiritual truths I have learned on “My Four Year Old Date…”
Thank you Levi!

“Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.” Jesus – (Matthew 19. 14 ESV)

Laugh often and Fear not!


It Never Ends…

I found myself standing under threatening skies, bundled up from head to toe cheering on Faith and Joshua as they ran around an increasingly muddy oval grassy track at Capstone Park. They were participating in the annual “Boosterthon – Fun Run”, a fundraiser for their elementary school. As modern popular music blared, “Sweet Caroline” – the head cheerleader for this event danced, sang and shouted out words of encouragement to the runners as they ran lap after lap for about thirty minutes.

I was not alone as many other proud parents bobbed up and down to the bass beat in an effort to stay warm. Keeping my eye on Faith and Joshua was difficult as the sea of fourth graders and third graders created a tsunami effect of an ongoing wave of white T-shirts creating quite the blur.

A mom was standing next to me as her daughter ran over to her. The mom’s smile gleamed with pride as her daughter approached. My eyes, along with other parents followed this fourth grade student as she made her way to about a foot away from her mother. The daughter stretched out her right hand as her mom delightfully reached out as well readying herself for what seemed to be an imminent embrace.

The little girl stopped abruptly and with outstretched hand said, “Here Mom!” and unexpectedly handed her a crumpled paper cup, a piece of trash. Her mom graciously took the cup and stuttered, “Thank you…”

I burst out laughing at the mom’s shocked face.
The corners of her mouth softened and she too started laughing.
Our eyes caught and her next comment has stuck with me all day…

“It never ends…”


Life on this earth as we know it will one day end.
Cancer will cease to threaten our very lives.
Friendships will come to a close.
Violence and abuse will have a final day.
Family members will die off.
Addictions will curtail.
Prison sentences will conclude.
Depression will stop.
Dreams will be doused.
Freedoms will be bound.
Jobs and vocations will no longer be.
The breathing will become breathless.
The beginning will have an end.
Time itself will run out.
Rivers and lakes will dry up.
Dysfunctions will halt.
Everything we know will end.

Take a moment, take a breath before you read this next paragraph…

When we talk about…
God’s unconditional love,
God’s amazing grace,
God’s sea of mercy,
God’s furious love for you,
God’s boisterous and bellowing laughter,
God’s heavenly kingdom,
God’s eternal salvation,
God’s unparalleled acceptance,
God’s terrific tenderness,
God’s constant comfort,
God’s future and God’s hope,
God’s offering a second and third chance, over and over,
God’s perfect timing,
God’s crafty creativity,
God’s omnipotence, omniscience and omnipresence,
God’s strong and gentle arms that wrap around our souls,
God’s radiant reign,

When we talk about these things…
Guess what?

“It never ends…”

Laugh often and Fear not!