Category Archives: e-Booklets

Booklets of short stories written by Chaplain Tom Kendall and used in his ministry.

April Fools

April FoolsAPRIL FOOLS By Chaplain Tom Kendall

April 1 came on a Friday that year.  A young couple in their early 30’s, we’ll call them Jim and Tammy, began making their plans for the evening and the weekend.  Tammy was divorced with a young son.  To save money, she lived at home with her parents.  Jim was what you might say “between families”.  Both of his parents were divorced and each has “new” families of their own leaving Jim in need of family roots.  He thought he found it when he met Tammy and when her parents cared enough for him to let him live at their home as well.  They were Jim’s new family. Jim’s small business had just started to pick up a little in the midst of a great recession, and about 5 pm on Friday, he and Tammy decided to go out and spend the evening together, just like they always did.  They talked about going to a movie, but decided instead to stop off at a local restaurant and bar and have a couple of drinks to, in Jim’s words, “take the edge off”. Time passed and they stayed a little longer than they had expected, but were enjoying each other’s company over a few drinks.  They decided later to meet a friend of Jim’s at another bar in a small town about a half hour away where Jim grew up.  When they finally arrived, the friend had already left, so they stayed and had a few more drinks before going home.  They didn’t want to be out too late. That Friday evening was a cool are somewhat rainy night.   They paid their check a little after 10 pm and began the trek home in Blurry SlowTammy’s car.  At approximately 10:50 pm, the Sheriff’s Dispatch got a 911 call of a single car accident with apparent injury.  Somewhere between checking out and the time of the 911 call, the car Jim was driving left the dark road near a sharp curve.  It hit a couple of trees deploying both airbags, then traveled back across the road, into a ditch and came to rest after finally hitting yet another tree on this other side of the road. Witnesses said Jim was walking around outside the car in a daze.  Jim remembered nothing.  Emergency crews quickly arrived on the scene and took Jim to an area trauma hospital where he woke up having no idea what was going on.  In his words, he thought someone was playing a cruel April Fool’s joke on him.  Indeed, the story was about April Fools.   Unfortunately, Tammy was not as lucky. About the time the County Coroner was taking Tammy to the morgue, my telephone rang at just about 1 am on Saturday morning.  It was Dispatch.  I was the Chaplain on call covering for another Chaplain who was out of town that evening.  My job was to go with two Sheriff’s Deputies to the parent’s home to notify them of the accident and their daughter’s death. Wood Door

Nothing can prepare you for what may happen when you knock on someone’s door in the middle of the night.  When the Police and a Chaplain show up at your door at that hour, it is never good news.  Tammy’s mother came and opened the door after knocking persistently.  A Deputy asked “may we come in for a minute and speak with you?” As we sat down, Tammy’s father came in to see what was going on and we had to tell them there had been an accident and their daughter didn’t survive.  It never fails to break my heart when I see the reactions knowing my own reaction is absolutely nothing compared to the shock they must be feeling at that moment.  I can’t even imagine how I would feel in that situation.  I don’t think anyone can understand unless they’ve actually experienced it.  Yes, we’ve been trained in so many ways to help us prepare to make that notification, but no parent has ever had any training to receive that news about their own son or daughter, or loved one. They were in shock; almost unable to even process this information.  There were only a few tears welling up in their eyes, but not the kind of reaction I might have expected.  It seemed like they were asking themselves “are these people at the right house?”  “Surely, there must be some mistake.” Continue reading April Fools

When Someday is Today

Facing the FutureWhen Someday Is Today
Tom Kendall

 “Someday” is a day we all often talk about but rarely think that it is anything that should be on our priority list today.  “We will all die, someday.”  “Someday, I want to go on a long cruise.”.  “Someday, I’m going to get that checked out.”  “Someday, I’m going to try that new diet.”  “I will retire from this company someday.”  “Someday, I’m going to read the bible.”  “Someday, I will go to church with my family.”  “Let’s have them over for dinner someday.”  “Someday, I’m going to fix that leak.”  “Someday, things will be better.” “Someday, you’ll thank me for this.”  And the “some days” go on and on.

“Some days” are good days, “some days” we hope will never come even if we know that day is inevitable.  The one thing all “some days” have in common is they all require planning.  “I don’t have time right now, but someday, I’ll get around to making that plan.”  “Someday, I’ll have more time than I do now.”

How often do we use that word?  Once we start paying attention, it is surprising how it seems to creep into our vocabulary.  For me, and probably for many people, “someday” is a placeholder for the inevitable that I want to procrastinate.  “Someday, I’ll clean out the garage.”  “Someday, I’ll trim all of those bushes around the house.


Joplin MO Devistation            Every day is that “someday” for someone, as long as it isn’t for us, it’s usually ok.  Sometimes, however, that “somebody” is someone close to us and it makes a traumatic impact.  It seems that every night when I watch the news before going to bed, there is at least one story about a fire that killed or displaced a family, a natural disaster that has caused dozens, hundreds, and sometimes thousands of people to lose everything.  I watch and think I’m glad it wasn’t me but feel compassion for those who are affected. Continue reading When Someday is Today

Open Doors

Open DoorsOpen Doors

Written By
Chaplain Tom Kendall

“Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.”  (Revelation 3:20Revelation 3:20
English: World English Bible - WEB

20 Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, then I will come in to him, and will dine with him, and he with me.

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– NIV).   I’ve read this scripture many times and often ask myself, “where is this door?”, “I wish I could actually see this door Jesus is taking about.”  He responded through His Word: “And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father.” (John 14:13John 14:13
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13 Whatever you will ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.

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– NIV).

He shared with me a vision of my life.  I saw myself standing in a large room surrounded by many doors, not just one door.  I was moving forward at a steady pace, much like standing on one of those moving sidewalks you see at airports and some malls.  I looked forward and backward, and when I looked back, I saw the good things, and the bad things that I have done and that have happened to me in the past.  Sometimes the past seems better than the present or the unknown of the future.   I stood there a moment and reminisced and then I tried to take a step back to those “good old days”.  It was ok to remember those things, but I wasn’t allowed to go back.  What has happened in the past shall remain there forever.  The future is unknown, and all I have is the present place where I stand.

I am allowed to choose to turn in any direction and move whichever way I choose at will, except I cannot go backward.  The sidewalk of time never speeds up or slows down.  The doors that surround me are familiar.  I’ve seen and known them most of my life.  Many I have walked through before, some many times, others I’ve never ventured to open.

To one side, I see a door that looks like the door of a vault.  It’s big and heavy and obviously is protecting much money and things of great value.  I’ve been through that door so many times before seeking wealth and material gain.  It is a door that cries out “come in, help yourself.   Take all you can – there’s no limit”.  That sounded pretty good.  Once inside, though, I discovered I was far from alone in responding to this call to partake.  There are countless others in that room as well; each one trying to grab and take all they can get no matter who else may get in the way.  Most of the people in there seem happier taking what’s in your hand rather than picking up the endless riches that are there for the taking.  In this room, there is constant fighting and battling to get and keep as much as possible.   The ironic thing is the more one has, the faster it seems to slip away and the harder each one works to grab even more.  It’s a vicious cycle.

No matter which door I choose and walk through, all of the same doors appear around that room as well.  The doors never change.  Some are open beckoning me to come in; others are closed and raise my curiosity.  Some you can look at and recognize immediately what must be on the other side, much like the vault door.

Next to the vault door is one with many colorful blinking lights and signs.  The lure of this room is to bring what money you have and gamble with it with the promise of making even more money quickly.  It promises easy money, quickly without working for it and having “fun” at the same time.  I tried this door a couple of times in my life.  It wasn’t much fun and I always lost all I had.  Some of the people in there seem to win, sometimes even win big.  But, the lure gets even stronger when you’re winning and the winners never seem to know when to leave.  They just keep on trying to double what they have until they, too, lose it all, and then some.  The promise is a lie.  Not only is it a lie, most leave with a hidden anger demanding they return and “win” back what they lost and more.

Not far away is a glass door where you can easily look inside and see a wonderful, mouth-watering display of food.  It’s an endless buffet that says “eat and enjoy”.  I did and I just couldn’t seem to get enough.  It was so good; I keep coming back to this door again and again.  I know I always eat too much there, but now I just can’t seem to walk away.  I go out for a while, but always come back.

On another side, there are beautiful double doors that obviously lead to a very comfortable mansion that calls to come in and let myself go in the utmost comfort.  Another door is translucent, and I can see the silhouette of attractive females calling me to step in.  Another set of doors look like that on an old saloon.  I hear music and laughter and voices saying to come in, have a few drinks, and “loosen up”.

There’s a door with a dark figure standing at the door asking me if I’d like to feel good.  He has some drugs I can try that will make me forget about all of the choices I need to make every step of the way.  Just come in and I can just “let go” and feel good all the time.
One of my favorite doors is the one that opens to a large showroom of beautiful and exotic cars.  Each one says “imagine how you’ll look to others when you’re driving me”.  “They’ll all know you’re a success in life with me.”

Many of the doors are unmarked and offer no clue as to what hides behind them.  I’ve tried some before, some were good, others were terrifying and I had to flee for my life.  What is remarkable is that no matter which door I go through, all the other doors seem to follow and be the next room too.  What I’m learning is that every step I take is nothing more than another choice.  Where I am today is the sum total of all of the choices I’ve made so far.  I constantly have to decide do I choose this direction or that direction?  Do I go through this door that offers to make me feel good, feel proud and successful or do I choose some other door?  So many decisions… so many choices to make!

Many of the doors look a lot alike.  They’re plain, wooden doors, usually double doors with an arch to the top.  I recognize these… they’re church doors.   I’ve looked behind many of these; some I’ve gone through and walked that way, only to be disappointed and left feeling more lost and alone than before.  I know Jesus said in Revelation 3:20Revelation 3:20
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20 Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, then I will come in to him, and will dine with him, and he with me.

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“Here I am”, but where are You really?  I’ve looked behind those doors and someone resembling You and saying he’s You were behind each one, yet it wasn’t true.  How do I find You, Lord?

I went in one of those rooms once because it said it was the one true church and it would lead me to God.  The people in there said I didn’t need to read the Bible because they would tell me everything I needed to know about God.  All they told me, though, was how I “sinned” all the time and I would never see God that way unless I started doing good things for everyone else and stopped thinking of myself.

One day, I decided to try another of those doors and find the “truth”.  It was an interesting journey because it made me feel good and gave me hope and promised prosperity.  I liked that.  It even taught me that the real “god” was me!  Imagine that!  I could have and do virtually anything I wanted, as long as it didn’t hurt anyone else, of course.  With all that power and hope, I went back through that vault door and grabbed all I could and took arm loads through those mansion doors as well as some of those nice cars too.  Things were looking pretty good!

A strange thing happened though.  The more I was able to grab, the faster it disappeared and the more I needed to feel good, and “in charge”.  Others I met along the way who had ventured through some of those other doors with the women, drugs and alcohol, told me they found the same thing.  The more they got, the more they needed and the less satisfied they were.  This just doesn’t make any sense!  How am I supposed to know what is true.  Which door offers real hope and security?

It took me a long time before I realized that all of the doors had something in common.  They were all some form of a church.  No, they didn’t all worship the God of the universe, but instead, the god of money, greed, food, alcohol, drugs and most often, the god of “self”.  Each one was really a lie.  Each said “worship me – give your life to me and I’ll make you great, and prosperous, or at least feel good, great and prosperous”.  The lie, though, was each one made a slave out of each one of us that dwelled there for long.  Before one knows it, the lure is too great to walk away; to say “no”.  I don’t want to listen to these lies any longer, but I don’t seem to have the power over them.  That’s because I made a choice in some cases, much like others had, to sell my power to choose in exchange for a promise that was never delivered.  When I wanted my power of choice back, the god of that room said “no, you’re mine and you must worship me.”  Now, I’m afraid.  What can I do?  Have I lost my ultimate power of choice forever?  Who can I turn to for help?

Then, one day, I heard a voice coming from behind one of those wooden doors.  It was a voice saying “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life”.  Sure, I thought; I’ve heard that before.  But something said to open the door and see what was there.   So I opened the door and there was a man there who said His name was Jesus.  I said, “Haven’t I met You before?”   He said, “no, only someone claiming to be Me.”   “Come, let’s dine, and then I’ll take you to My Father.”  Then He handed me a book and told me it was God’s Word.

I said “ok… I’ll try this out for a while.”  After we ate, I asked Him if I could meet His Father and inquired where He was.  He pointed in one direction, down a narrow path, and far in the distance, I saw what looked like an old wooden cross.  He pointed to another very large wooden cross and said “that one is yours.  Pick it up and follow Me.”

I tried picking it up, but it was heavy.  I got it up on one shoulder, but for some reason, I was unable to move forward with it and follow Him.  So I put it back down and said “thanks, but I’ll try to find another way, to which He replied, “That’s your choice.  Do it however you like.”

Much time has passed as I have journeyed through time.  Now, I’m getting older, and I seem to be tired most of the time.  Everything seems to be a struggle now; unlike it was when I was younger… back in the “good old days”.  Yes, how I wish I could go back down that road and just go back to those days that now seemed so easy in comparison to today.  I remember they didn’t seem easy then, but those days sure seem pretty good now.

When I tried to go back, I looked behind me and realized why everything seemed so difficult.  I hadn’t noticed that there was a huge chain around my waist bound to a large sled that was piled high with the baggage of all the mistakes I has made, the poor choices of doors I had walked through all these years, and it was so heavy, I could hardly move forward under the weight of all of that baggage.  I realized that by doing good things for others, some of the baggage would fall off, but I kept on trying door after door to find some pleasure, some comfort, and some relief!  For ever old bag that fell off, three more were added and the load just kept growing and making my life more difficult.  How would I ever get to the finish line of life a winner with all of this baggage?

Ever so slowly, I made my way back to that door I once looked behind where that man named Jesus had been standing.  I opened the door again, and much to my surprise, He was still there waiting for me.  Imagine that!  So many people I have known throughout my years of struggle had given up on me, decided to go their own way, or for one reason or another, were just gone.  But this Jesus was still there waiting for me!

This time, however, I knew about that cross I was expected to carry and knew it was going to be impossible for me to follow Him carrying this cross along with all of the baggage I have collected and carry with me.  His offer still sounds good, but it just seems so impossible for me to do on my own.

That’s when He said I didn’t have to do it alone.  He said, “For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:30Matthew 11:30
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30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

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).  I said how could that be?  You expect me to carry this heavy cross through life as I follow You with all this baggage I’m carrying around too.  I asked Him, “Are you going to carry some of this baggage for me to lighten my load?” to which He replied “No.  If you choose Me, I’ll cut the chain that binds you to your past, and give you a new life in Me, without all of that baggage.”  He said to break that chain, I would have to be willing to let go and die to my old self that had collected all of that baggage, and be made a new person, because all of that baggage represented the sin in my life, and no baggage like that was allowed in the presence of God, His Father.

I remembered reading in the Book He gave me that He wrote “I tell you the truth; no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.” (John 3:3John 3:3
English: World English Bible - WEB

3 Jesus answered him, “Most assuredly, I tell you, unless one is born anew, The word translated “anew” here and in also means “again” and “from above”. he can’t see the Kingdom of God.”

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).   I began to understand, but I liked some of that baggage, it was fun, and it brought me comfort and pleasure.  He said if I wanted to keep any of the baggage, I would be unable to see His Father and I would have to choose.

So many choices I’ve made and so many were bad choices.  Something told me this was the right choice, so I agreed and asked Him to be the Lord of my life and set me free from the baggage of my old life and let me start new again.
Once the chains were broken, I actually felt new all over again.  I was free at last and ready to follow Him.  Again, He said to pick up my cross and follow Him.  This time, without all of that baggage, the cross didn’t seem so heavy.   With renewed strength and vigor, I began walking with Him.

Along the way, I discovered that although His path may be narrow, it is not a straight path from where I was to where I needed to be to see the face of God.  Quite the contrary, along the way, He would take me to those plain looking doors that only seemed to have a question mark on them.  Sure, I’ve been through some of those before.  Some were rewarding, and some, well, let’s just say I wish I had never gone there.  Most of those doors ended up being some pretty difficult places to be and I often run for the nearest “friendly” door; sometimes the bar, sometimes the door to the big, comfortable house and sometimes even for that fast car to get me out of there.

Now Jesus leads me to a door and says: “I want you to walk through this door and keep walking until I open another one for you.”  I’m beginning to wonder what I’ve got myself into because I know from experience what is likely behind that unmarked door.  Sure enough, I walk through and it’s one of those rooms that heap more burdens and difficulties upon me rather than solutions and comfort I seek.  This time, I’m carrying that cross around with me, too.  Sometimes the journey seemed easier when I just had all of my old baggage behind me rather than carrying this cross!

Just as I think I’ve had enough and am about ready to give up, I see Jesus again and He gives me rest; but just for a while.  Then He opens another door and says “I want you to walk through here.”  Again, I pick up that cross and move forward again; only to encounter even more difficulties than I encountered when I walked through the last door He opened for me.  “Why are you doing this to me”, I asked.  To which He replied, “Remember what I wrote to you in the Book: ‘So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.’” (Isaiah 41:10Isaiah 41:10
English: World English Bible - WEB

10 Don’t you be afraid, for I am with you; don’t be dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you; yes, I will help you; yes, I will uphold you with the right hand of my righteousness.

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He went on and explained, “My friend, don’t be surprised by the fiery troubles that are coming in order to test you. Don’t feel as though something strange is happening to you, but be happy as you share My sufferings.  Then you will also be full of joy when I appear again in My glory.” (as He would have spoken it in 1 Peter 4:12-131 Peter 4:12-13
English: World English Bible - WEB

12 Beloved, don’t be astonished at the fiery trial which has come upon you, to test you, as though a strange thing happened to you. 13 But because you are partakers of Christ’s sufferings, rejoice; that at the revelation of his glory also you may rejoice with exceeding joy.

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)  “I will not leave you, nor forsake you.” (Deuteronomy 31:6Deuteronomy 31:6
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6 Be strong and of good courage, don’t be afraid, nor be scared of them: for Yahweh your God, he it is who does go with you; he will not fail you, nor forsake you.

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His words were comforting and gave me hope, that for the first time in my life, I didn’t feel alone going through the struggles and the difficulties.  So I thanked Him but asked, “Where are you taking me?  What else should I expect along the way?”  To this, He replied, “Again, remember it is written: ‘For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.’” (Jeremiah 29:11Jeremiah 29:11
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11 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says Yahweh, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you hope in your latter end.

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I boldly said, “Sure, I’ve heard that before from the casino, the bar, the vault door and so many others.”  Why should I believe You’re going to be any different that all the others?”  I thought for a moment He might be angry with me for challenging Him on making what sounded like the same promises I have heard so many times before.  But He was patient and kind when He replied, “For I am the LORD your God, and will hold your right hand, saying to you, ‘Fear not, I will help you.’” (Isaiah 41:13Isaiah 41:13
English: World English Bible - WEB

13 For I, Yahweh your God, will hold your right hand, saying to you, Don’t be afraid; I will help you.

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Let me say this about the journey He has led me on: it wasn’t what I expected, but it has been very rewarding.  It has been difficult at times, sometimes more difficult than anything I have ever been through before.  But, I know His Words are faithful and true.  My faith has been, is, and will continue to be in Him.  I know this because each of the difficult times I’ve been through while walking with Him has in fact strengthened me.  I get stronger in faith and build my endurance to persevere as each day, as each trial and tribulation goes by.  I’ve been through so many with Him now, that I know whatever I am going through at the time will end, and I will be stronger as a result.

And that cross of His He had me carry… well, that seems to be a bit lighter now that I’m stronger, so I know for sure I will make it to the end with Him.  Through all the years I’ve spent walking with Him each day, reading the Book He gave me and walking through each door He opens, I also know I am better off today than I ever was before.

One time, recently, when things seemed difficult and I wasn’t sure if I was able to get through the trial, I cried out to Him for help.  He responded by asking me a question: “Is there anything going on in your life right now that you think is too big or too difficult for Me?”  I knew the answer: “no, absolutely not.”  Then, He said, “Keep your eyes on Me; I’ll take care of the rest.”

He can make a difference in your life, too, if you will trust Him and make the choice to sever that chain around your waist as I did many years ago.  It isn’t always easy, but the burdens of life are indeed lighter than ever before, and I have never had a need to venture past those other doors I once walked through so frequently.  You won’t either, if you put your faith and trust in Him alone.

– The End – yet just the Beginning –
About this story – The story is but a description of a vision given to me by the Holy Spirit over the course of a few days.  I am thankful that the Spirit has allowed me to look at my life and my walk with Him from a new perspective.  I am also thankful He allowed me to share this vision with others.  “Speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into Him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.” (Ephesians 4:15-16Ephesians 4:15-16
English: World English Bible - WEB

15 but speaking truth in love, we may grow up in all things into him, who is the head, Christ; 16 from whom all the body, being fitted and knit together through that which every joint supplies, according to the working in measure of each individual part, makes the body increase to the building up of itself in love.

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