July 31, 2012

Speaking of Translations

The critique on a new Bible translation, The Voice, says that it is written like a screenplay and cites the use of drama to make the Scripture come alive. I listen to the dramatized version of the NIV on CD and I appreciate how dramatization enhances the text without changing the text. However, The Voice adds to the text. An example is at the birth of Cain, “Eve (excited): Look I have created a new human, a male child, with the help of the Eternal.” I suppose Eve may have been excited, but I hate it when an author tries to read between the lines for me.

July 30, 2012

The Gist of It All

My friend, who is in multiple Bible studies, recently told me that one of her weaknesses is not digging deeper into the Word. Her preferred Bible is the Living Bible (paraphrased) translation. I have to wonder if our choice of Bibles has a direct correlation with not only our own Spiritual maturity, but also our witness to others. For me, using a paraphrase version of the Bible is akin to reading the Cliff Notes and I just can’t hide that version in my heart. The Psalmist recorded, “I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.” (Psalm 119:11 NIV)

July 27, 2012

Mirror, Mirror on the Wall

Late yesterday afternoon I rubbed my ear and to my chagrin I realized that all day I had worn mismatched earrings. Oh, they were both green, but not the same color of green, nor the same size or shape. I wonder what James would have to say about the person who doesn’t even know what they look like while they’re still standing in front of the mirror. “Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like.” (James 1:23-24 NIV)

July 26, 2012

Second Greatest Commandment

There is a fellow believer who I intentionally avoid because she causes a lot of wear and tear on my Christianity. One example of her egocentricities was using her brassiere as a bandanna to keep her hair in place while riding in the car with the windows rolled down. She then took the exhibition one step further and wore her new found hair accessory into a gas station to purchase a drink and boast to the male attendant about her creativity. This woman, who is a student of the Bible and well beyond her youth, takes more pleasure in drawing attention to herself and embarrassing others than she does in “Love[ing] your neighbor as yourself.” (Matt 22:39 NIV)

July 25, 2012


In an article on poverty a young woman described going from a lavish rich lifestyle to being poor because of the economy. In contrasting then and now she said, “I grew up going to Hawaii every summer. Now I’m here, applying for assistance because it’s hard to make ends meet. It’s very hard to adjust.” My compassion meter was registering low so my first reaction was, Hawaii every summer. Really? I’ve never been to Hawaii. However, once I put on my spiritual hat I was reminded that the believer can more easily adjust to the current economy by praying, “Give us today our daily bread.” (Matt 6:11 NIV)

July 24, 2012

Measure of a Church

I was somewhat taken back Sunday by one of our ladies who was beside herself after church. All those taking part in the service with announcements and prayer requests failed to mention the recent shooting tragedy in Aurora. She asked tearfully, “Why didn’t someone have prayer for the victims and their families? What kind of a church is this? What is wrong with this church that we can’t all pray for them?” My response to her was that it was not an intentional oversight by the leaders. I remaindered her that she too had more than one opportunity at the closing of the service to bring the concern before the congregation.  Weighing most heavily on my mind is her question, “What kind of a church is this?” I hate to think that those who fellowship as a congregation measure a church by their prayers. “And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” (Matt 6:5-6 NIV)

July 23, 2012

On the Offense

From my front window I watched what appeared to be two sparrows in an aerial dogfight with a raven four times their size. Their aggression didn’t let up for a moment until they had chased the raven out of their air space. I doubt the raven would be intimidated had there been only one sparrow, but with two of them the scavenger was outmatched, outwitted and outmaneuvered. According to Jesus believers too have power when we come together. “Again, I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them.” (Matt 18:19-20 NIV)

July 20, 2012

Feet to the Fire

At a recent meeting one elected official was referring to another elected body when he said, “I’m going to hold their feet to the fire. They are going to have to collaborate with us on some of the issues facing the community.” I had to laugh. First of all, he has absolutely no authority to hold anyone’s feet to the fire and secondly, he can’t force another group to play in his sandbox. Really, he just needs to let it go. Too often believers fall into a similar trap. In our mission to serve the Lord we often give ourselves more power and authority than we actually have. Jesus reminds us that sometimes we just need to let it go. “If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, shake the dust off your feet when you leave that home or town.” (Matt 10:14 NIV)

July 19, 2012

Records of Wrongs

As I tidy up my mom’s affairs I’m not only shredding old bank statements and medical records, I’m also shredding the grudges she kept. The documentation of a lawsuit that she lost 35 years ago, a 20 year-old outstanding loan to a family member that was never repaid and the unequal divorce settlement of a failed marriage. I appreciate Paul’s reminder to us of what Love really is, “It is not rude, it is not self–seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.” (1Cor 13:5 NIV)

July 18, 2012


Citing family concerns a pseudo-candidate for the local County Commissioner race in November just dropped out. His decision to withdraw is no surprise. It has been obvious from the beginning that his candidacy was merely a placeholder for another politician who needed more time to set the stage and test the political waters before entering the race. Unfortunately in the church we occasionally see a similar bit of maneuvering. There are those whose lives have never been invested in the Lord, yet they are depending on someone or some circumstance to hold their place in line at the pearly gates. My life on earth is the only opportunity to choose whether I will stand at the right or the left hand of God. “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.” (Matt 25:34 NIV)

July 17, 2012

American Arrogance

I’m taking an on-line Old Testament Survey class and the text highlights the pride and self-sufficiency of the Hebrews who opted for political treaties with neighboring countries rather than seeking help from the Lord. There seems to be some parallels with the Hebrews of old and today’s Americans. Rather than going to the Lord for help, we implement treaties with other countries, look at different economy theories and hold out hope for the November election. Hosea’s rebuke of the northern kingdom of Israel can easily be applied to the US. “Israel’s arrogance testifies against him, but despite all this he does not return to the LORD his God or search for him.” (Hosea 7:10 NIV)

July 16, 2012

Old Dog, New Trick

Sometimes our older generation is laid back and can be seen as being sweeter and mellower than they were when they were middle age. However, there are also others who figure their age has given them to the right to be outspoken and say whatever they want to say, whenever they want to say it. Regardless of the various aging personalities, I have to laugh at the visual of our older folks, or even those of Paul’s time, attending a class which is intended to teach them to how to be temperate and self-controlled. “Teach the older men to be temperate, worthy of respect, self–controlled, and sound in faith, in love and in endurance.” (Titus 2:2 NIV)

July 13, 2012


Because of the weak economy the shelves of many food banks are beginning to look pretty sparse. Although these organizations feed the hungry, I can’t help but wonder if they aren’t also helping to feed the sense of entitlement that so many people are coming to expect. In his warning about people who are idle Paul said, “Such people we command and urge in the Lord Jesus Christ to settle down and earn the bread they eat.” (2 Thes 3:12 NIV) Paul doesn’t specify when a person should earn their bread, so I’m assuming it could be before, or even after, they have eaten. I can’t say that I’ve ever actually known anyone to go hungry, but neither have I known an organization to ask their clients to earn the bread they eat.

July 12, 2012


It’s been so warm the last couple weeks that at night I’ve left the bedroom window open to get a light breeze. Then every morning at dawn I’m serenaded by a couple of birds perched in the tree next to the house. These guys are really, really happy at first light. I’m no expert on bird songs, but it sounds like one bird will keep repeating the same notes and cadence over and over again, while the other bird will chime in only occasionally. Interestingly, every morning it’s the same song. “Each of the four living creatures had six wings and was covered with eyes all around, even under his wings. Day and night they never stop saying: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come.” (Rev 4:8 NIV)

July 11, 2012

Ashes to Ashes

Now that I have the ability and the control to discard some my loved one’s earthly possessions, I’m on a cleaning binge and nothing is sacred. For instance my sister Shelly lived with us for awhile before she passed away in ’09 and still sitting on a shelf in her bedroom were the cremated remains of her beloved dog Cowboy. I certainly mean no disrespect to those who have passed away, but their treasures are not my treasures, so yesterday I unceremoniously put Cowboy in the trash. I can picture the Lord viewing all of my earthly possessions in a similar fashion. “Do not love the world or anything in the world….The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever.”  (John 2: 15-17 NIV)

July 10, 2012

Getting Our Affairs in Order

For many years I encouraged my mom to sort through her things and get rid of stuff she didn’t need. Her solution was to put everything in storage and keep on accumulating. The last couple weeks of her life I begged and pleaded with her to not leave me with piles of stuff to sort through. Selfishly I didn’t want to be dealing with all her stacks of papers and plastic bags while I should be considering her end-of-life issues and grieving. Since my mom passed away a little over a week ago it has crossed my mind that she found it easier to go home to be with the Lord than to dispose of any of her treasures. Very few of us have our affairs in order for when we die and we give little thought to the fact that someone is going to have to clean up our mess. Jesus on the other hand, always practiced what He preached. Not only were His affairs in order, but Jesus also made arrangements for John to take care of His mother when He was gone.“When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, ‘Dear woman, here is your son,’ and to the disciple, ‘Here is your mother.’ From that time on, this disciple took her into his home.”  (John 19:26-27a NIV)

July 09, 2012

Trashing Your Treasures

I am in the process of sorting through my mom’s things and my emotions run from grief to anger to laughter. Mom was a hoarder, so the magazines and stacks of papers that were near and dear to her heart are simply heartburn for me. I really am trashing her treasures. Mom was a believer, who obviously didn’t struggle with storing treasures on earth vs. storing treasures in heaven. For her it was not a matter of either or, but rather a matter of being able to do both. Interestingly Jesus has gone to prepare a place for us and yet He never mentions our being surrounded with any earthly possessions that once brought pleasure and comfort. “In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you.” (John 14:2 NIV)

July 06, 2012

American Pickers

I enjoy watching American Pickers, a TV show where Mike and Frank travel across the country picking through peoples treasures trying to buy pieces for their antique shop in LeClaire, Iowa. On a recent episode in the south they came across a man who had a collection of over 50 VW busses on acreage behind his house. As the pickers wandered through the graveyard of neatly positioned busses, not one bus appeared intact. All of them, exposed to the elements, had rusted bodies, dilapidated doors and broken windows. The busses were not only the habitat for birds and small rodents, but trees and weeds were also taking up residence growing up, around and through the vehicles. What a great visual for believers. Jesus said, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matt 6:19-21 NIV)

July 05, 2012

No Pain, No Gain

There is an old joke about a man going to the doctor complaining that his finger hurt when he moved it. The doctor said, “Well if it hurts when you move it, don’t move it.” Unfortunately many people of faith take the doctor’s advice. Being a Christian is often painful – physically, emotionally and financially. Actually, accepting Jesus is painless, it’s the following Him that can be painful and some of us are just not willing to endure any discomfort. Jesus said, “And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life.” (Matt 19:29 NIV)

July 04, 2012

Independence Day

To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:31-32 NIV)

July 03, 2012

Emotional Whiplash

Even though my mom’s funeral will be today, other activities of life are still scheduled and moving forward. On Saturday I went to a 50th Anniversary Celebration, but it was awkward trying to celebrate while I was being comforted with sympathy. On Sunday I opted to stay home from church because sympathy from my church family would likely have overridden my worship. Grief co-mingling with celebration is a strange concoction. “For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. Therefore let us keep the Festival, not with the old yeast, the yeast of malice and wickedness, but with bread without yeast, the bread of sincerity and truth.” (1 Cor 1:7b – 8 NIV)

July 02, 2012


I found our communion meditation a couple of weeks ago very thought provoking and comforting. The speaker contemplated death and suggested that when our loved ones die in Christ, they’re really not dead. They have simply, in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, gone from life to life – from physical life to eternal life. I like that image. It sure beats the reports from some people on their out of body experiences of walking down a dark tunnel towards a light. (1Cor 15:52)