December 31, 2013


A homeless man living under a bridge in a neighboring community was asleep in his sleeping bag when he was attacked and repeatedly stabbed. Sometime later the attacker returned to the scene of the crime and found his victim still breathing. He then used a rock to bash in the man’s head before throwing him into the river to finish the deed. The murderer flippantly confessed to his family that he thought he could get away with it and there was a thrill to the act. He told one of his friends that the bum woke up during the attack asking, “Why brother, why?” So senseless, and yet it brings to mind the first murder recorded in the Bible, the story of brothers Cain and Abel. Abel’s offering to God was acceptable, but Cain’s was lacking. In anger Cain took his brother out into a field and killed him; you can almost hear Abel asking “Why brother, why?” The Lord stepped in to confront the murderer Abel and said, “What have you done? Listen! Your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground.” (Gen 4:10 NIV)

December 30, 2013

Honor You Father and Mother

There are interesting stories coming out of China about parents suing their children for neglect, both for financial support and emotional estrangement. One such story is about a 94-year-old half-blind woman who lives in a dark, damp, and cluttered storage space. Her only bathroom is waste-can beside her bed, which is too heavy for her to empty. Her sons protest that they are too old and poor to care for their mother, and the daughter-in-law is painted as a shrew. There really is no excuse for the children’s elder abuse; however I remind myself that this is the mother who raised these uncaring men. The story also reveals that the mother was widowed in a previous marriage, but her mother-in-law at the time set her free, releasing her from the care giving obligation. I was reminded of Ruth, who too was set free by her mother-in-law. Unlike the Chinese woman, Ruth chose to continue her care giving responsibilities regardless of the gift of freedom.  The outcome of each story is dramatic and eye-opening.

December 27, 2013

I Tell You the Truth

I sometimes struggle with speaking in love what I know to be the truth. Is my tone too harsh, my words too blunt, or do I sound unsympathetic or judgmental? Unfortunately many of us are so uncomfortable that we simply opt-out of speaking the truth at all. Paul, referencing spiritual infancy and maturity said, “Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ.” (Eph 4:15 NIV) Apparently there is an element of spiritual maturity needed for both parties if they are to hear and speak words ‘in love’. I wonder if a key to this love language is to follow the example of Jesus, “I tell you the truth…”

December 26, 2013

With Prayer

The Apostles questioned why they were unable to eradicate a demon from a possessed man and Jesus told them that this particular demon could only be driven out by prayer.  Certainly when we have a loved one in the throes of addiction we coalesce around them in prayer. However, I’m wondering if any of us ever bother to ask the person who is imprisoned, ‘Are you praying to the Lord, and if so, what exactly are you praying for?’ It may well be that the person we see being held captive doesn’t even want freed from his situation. For all we know his prayer may be simply that his family get off his back. Jesus said, “Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.” (Mk 11:24-25 NIV)

December 25, 2013


More and more we hear of people re-gifting presents that, for whatever reason, were items they don’t need or want. I recently learned of a fruitcake that one family has lovingly passed around for years - that is a real fruitcake, not the collective family fruitcake. In a spiritual sense Paul told Timothy how to re-gift the Holy Spirit. “For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self–discipline.” (2 Tim 1:6 NIV) This Christmas season may we too re-gift and give to others the essence of the Spirit Who lives within us.

December 24, 2013

My House

We cheer when Jesus overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves in the temple courts. He chastised their activity by quoting Scripture, “My house will be called a house of prayer, but you are making it a ‘den of robbers.’” (Matt 21:13 NIV) I’m now thinking about our homes. In the name of hospitality, and keeping the peace in the family, many of us have allowed others to occasionally bring their lifestyle into our homes - homosexuality, alcoholism, coarse language, grudges, bitterness, etc. Maybe it’s time for some of us to clean house and reclaim our own temple-homes. “But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.” (Joshua 24:15 NIV)

December 23, 2013

Light of Observation

I just learned that a member of my extended family is drinking heavily and refuses to seek medical, psychological, or spiritual help. Because there has been a lot of alcoholism in my family I made myself available if he wants to talk, but I then began to wonder what I might say if given the opportunity. As I thought about how Jesus interacted with people I realized He often convicted people by simply stating the obvious. Examples would be, ‘You have had five husbands…, you of little faith…, you do not have in mind the things of God…, friend, do what you came for.’ It may be that shining the light of observation on the reality of a situation would be more thought provoking than focusing on the individual.

December 20, 2013

Let Him Serve

Each month our mission’s coordinator highlights a different local mission for the congregation to support. It’s always been curious about why the church collects food for the local food bank when everyone in the community knows the need and many in our congregation are already individual supporters. When the topic came up during a recent conversation the coordinator laughed, “Oh, my intention isn’t support for the mission; I’m just trying to motivate people to serve in the community.” Well, that explains a lot. It’s no wonder I’ve lacked an emotional connection to the monthly mission focus. Not that the coordinator’s efforts aren’t well intended, but it just seems like his efforts to motivate believers to serve is akin to preaching to the choir. Paul tells us that in the body of Christ there are many members with different gifts, but not all of us having the same function. “We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man’s gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith.  If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach;…” (Ro12:6-7 NIV)

December 19, 2013


‘Tis the season for watching Christmas plays. Yesterday I attended a third grade student performance that had five superheroes interacting with those involved in the birth of Christ. The heroes - Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, the Hulk, and Spiderman- had heard a rumor that a new Superhero was arriving on the scene and that He would save the world. The heroes were a little miffed because, after all, it was their job to save the world. They wanted nothing to do with a new Hero if He intended to replace them by eliminating their jobs. I’m wondering if there might not be a little bit of superhero complex in all of us. We get so caught up in saving the lost that we forget that our real job is to worship the King.

December 18, 2013

Back Talk

In my parent’s generation if you talked-back to an adult you were immediately backhanded. In my generation a sharp tongue resulted in a spanking. However, today parents are more apt to reason with a child, or take away their privileges. I recently had a sit-down talk with my grandkids about back talking. Eight year-old Lydia’s ability to articulate exactly what she is feeling sometimes gets her in hot water. In sharing my observations with them I mentioned that I hadn’t noticed David back talking, but the 10 year-old was quick to say, “Well, I think about it. I say it in my head; I just don’t say it out loud.” I chuckled at his confession, and then praised him for his honesty. Often we adults hold our tongues simply because it is the ‘mature’ thing to do, but we also need to recognize that taking our thoughts captive is the first step to teaching them obedience. “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” (2 Cor 10:5 NIV)

December 17, 2013

Go Team Go

The Christian school fifth grade put on a play and one of the scenes had students divided up into teams. Rather than having the red team and the blue team, the names were Team Loyalty and Team Excellence. I began wondering if the Lord assigned believers to teams, which team might He would put me on. Would He put me on Team Obedience, Team Faithfulness, or would I be simply be designated the cheerleading mascot who warms the bench. “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” (Hebrews 12:1 NIV)

December 16, 2013


The interpreter for the deaf who signed for speakers at Nelson Mandela’s funeral has been employed for many events. However, at this funeral he was exposed as an imposter and a fraud who ‘spoke’ gibberish to the deaf when President Obama and other dignitaries spoke. Event organizers are now saying while the man is able to interpret; he is not a trained professional. When interviewed later the man excused his actions by saying he was schizophrenic and had seen angels descending in the stadium during the event. This gives me a whole new perspective to add to my thoughts on speaking in tongues and about those who step forward to interpret.  Paul reminds us, “So it is with you. Unless you speak intelligible words with your tongue, how will anyone know what you are saying? You will just be speaking into the air.” (1 Cor 14:9 NIV)

December 13, 2013

Too Much of a Good Thing

My recently married daughter didn’t want to move her succulent houseplant across the state, so she left it in my care. The plant always looked spindly and thirsty, but I didn’t realize until it was too late that Bill was watering it also. I’m afraid we drowned the poor thing, or in Bill’s words, “We loved it to death.” Paul uses an agricultural analogy to show the lifecycle of the Gospel, “I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. The man who plants and the man who waters have one purpose, and each will be rewarded according to his own labor.” (1 Cor 3:6-8 NIV) It’s wonderful that God rewards our labor, but now I’m wondering how He might feel about over-watering a new believer.

December 12, 2013

Before His Time

I’m in the early stages of learning Twitter, but because it allows you to use only 140 characters it puts ‘writing tight’ in a whole new perspective. I had to laugh thinking about the Apostle Paul literally being tongue-tied if someone limited him to 140 characters per thought. Jesus, on the other hand, was light years ahead of this generation with tweets and getting His message across with limited words. With 88 characters Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6 NIV) And with132 characters Jesus said, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16 NIV)

December 11, 2013


Years ago one of the ‘rules’ for the prayer chain was that you not pass the request on to anyone other than the next person in your link. The concern was that a prayer need could be turned into gossip. Recently my friend was soliciting prayers, but she deliberately excluded asking one woman to pray because the woman was a known gossip. I understand both situations, but it is a bit of a quandary that has me asking questions. Does the Lord care if the prayer comes from a gossip? Should we try to micromanage prayer warriors? Can the request be worded in such a way that there is no fodder for the gossiper? Does the Lord want us to withhold asking for prayers simply because we don’t want a particular individual praying for us? I suppose the real question we should ask; does our fear of gossip trump our need for prayers?

December 10, 2013

Plank Pulling

Often believers withhold spiritual confrontation with one another for fear that the other party will get mad and/or accuse them of judging. I’m toying with the idea that I can in fact correct another spiritually, but must first admit that I too may have the same fault or sin. Jesus said, “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye?  (Matt 7:3-4 NIV) Jesus does not say to ignore the speck (the sin), but rather to examine ourselves first lest we have the same inclination. The question then becomes, do I recognize the craftiness in others because I too have craftiness to my character? Or, do I see adultery in others because I too have a lustful heart? I’m wondering if acknowledging our own craftiness or lustfulness then frees us to confront that same sin in others.

December 09, 2013

Holiday Message

I’ve noticed that the weakest sermon presentations occur in and around national holidays. Preachers will even joke from the pulpit, ‘I pulled my New Year’s Eve sermon out of the file and just dusted it off for today’s message.’ I understand the dilemma, because I fall into the same trap when I force a blog post to conform to a holiday. The Christmas message has already been said, there is nothing new under the sun, and it’s hard to come up with a new thought provoking idea for the season. Sadly pastors and speakers think their audience won’t recognize that they have fallen back on tried and true holiday rhetoric. Maybe the faith community would hear fresher material if we’d take a page from the retailer’s playbook and have Christmas in July.

December 06, 2013


Recently dozens of pilot whales have shown up in the shallow coastal waters of Florida and wildlife officials are trying to coax them back into deep sea, their normal habitat. At least 10 whales have already died and the fear is that more will succumb. The reports describe the situation saying, ‘the challenges are very, very difficult…the whales are not cooperating…it will be difficult for them to navigate out on their own.’ I have this image of similar situation within the extended church family. We can see friends and loved ones struggling in the shallow waters of the world, but getting them into deeper spiritual waters before the beach themselves is very, very difficult.

December 05, 2013


A promotion video clip for AMC’s War Heroes Marathon, which was televised on Memorial Day, caught my attention. If the title was given I didn’t catch it, but the movie appeared to be set in the Viet Nam era. Actor Sean Penn, who played the part of an enlisted Army man said, “Yea though I walk through the valley of evil, I shall fear no death.” Considering the evil that is in our world today I felt a connection with this twist on the 23rd Psalm. Thankfully the more mature we become in the Word and in faith, we neither fear death, nor evil.

December 04, 2013


Obedience, depending on certain areas of our life, can be a struggle for all of us.  Recently I was taken aback by a speaker in church who added a caveat to his presentation saying, “If you don’t obey, you have never truly brought Jesus into your heart.” Ouch, that’s harsh…and not very well thought out. It would be wonderful if obedience magically appeared when you accept Jesus into your heart, but that is simply not the case. Just ask any parent or child, obedience is an acquired taste and a learned activity. While Jesus was never disobedient, He too learned obedience. The writer of Hebrews says of Him, “Although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him…” (Heb 5:8-9 NIV)

December 03, 2013

Table Talk

My large round oak table dinner table is one that my grandma purchased years ago at a yard sale for 25 cents. Grandma ran an old folks home and we always had four or five old-time gents eating family-style meals with us. Grandma, a staunch believer, never served a meal without first saying the blessing, so the prayers offered over this table would be too numerous to count. Although the table has been refinished, it is seasoned and worn with prayers, petitions and thanksgivings. I can only imagine what this cherished piece of furniture might say if it had a voice. Interestingly, John does give voice to the altar in Revelation. “And I heard the altar respond: “Yes, Lord God Almighty, true and just are your judgments.”  (Rev 16:7 NIV)

December 02, 2013

To God’s Ears

I was doing some extended complaining to Bill about something that had happened and when I finally caught myself I went back and apologized to him for grousing an bending his ear. He accepted my apology with the caveat, “That’s OK. Nobody but me and God can hear you.” I chuckled, but his comment hit a nerve. We sometimes think our communication with God is similar to a light switch. We turn the switch on when we want God to hear our prayers and cries for mercy, but the switch is automatically off if we don’t specifically call on Him in petitions. “I cried out to him with my mouth; his praise was on my tongue. If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened; but God has surely listened and heard my voice in prayer. Praise be to God, who has not rejected my prayer or withheld his love from me!” (Psalm 66:17-20 NIV)

November 29, 2013

Condemned Already

We often worry about the salvation of people who are riding the fence, but we know that as long as they live, they still have the opportunity to accept the Lord. One of my college textbooks was thought provoking when it noted, “Believers enjoy eternal life in advance of the age to come, so unbelievers stand under the sentence of condemnation in advance of the Last Judgment.” It’s interesting that we have some level of comfort thinking that the unbeliever is somehow living in a continual stay of execution until they actually come before the judgment seat of Christ. We are so sensitive to the possibility of someone labeling us ‘judgmental’, that it’s hard to look at the unbeliever and know that today they are condemned.

November 28, 2013

Giving Thanks

Early Tuesday I had a breast biopsy and late yesterday afternoon the doctor called to say that it was benign. I told the doctor I had already made mental plans for a double mastectomy and he laughed and told me to cancel the appointment. I really didn’t think I’d been that worried, but the good news was followed by a huge sigh of relief and rejoicing. “And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.” (Matt 10:30-31) Giving Thanks in all things.

November 27, 2013

Giving a Pass

A mainstream newspaper reported on the firing of a university student newspaper editor for plagiarism. The situation was newsworthy, but when the information was released the former editor was not named. The adviser for the students said, “We just felt like college is a time to make a mistake, not have to pay for it for the rest of your life.” Really? Extended plagiarism is not simply a mistake, or an accident – it’s deliberate. The issue that really caught my attention was the advisor giving the university student a moral pass that seems more age appropriate for the elementary or middle school student. Paul reminds us, “When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me.” (1 Cor 13:11 NIV)

November 26, 2013


My friend’s adult daughter was trying to return from a mission trip to the Philippines at the same time the typhoon hit the islands. Betty breathed a sigh of relief when her daughter landed safely back on US soil, however, she also felt a pang of guilt, “It just doesn’t seem right that I’m rejoicing when so many people in the Philippines are suffering.” It is curious that we sometimes stifle our rejoicing out of respect for others who are hurting. I have to wonder if our lack of rejoicing in certain circumstances translates to withholding our praise to God. “Rejoice in the LORD and be glad, you righteous; sing, all you who are upright in heart!” (Psalms 32:11 NIV)

November 25, 2013


I’m allergic to perfume and in my attempts to avoid people who wear it I sit in the back of the auditorium during worship services. My personal pew consists of one lone folding chair situated away from other people. I wouldn’t consider myself to be seated in the bleacher section, but neither do I consider the location a position of honor. A few weeks ago I was bowled over when one of the ladies came up to me before service and informed me she would be sitting in my usual spot. I located another folding chair and sat it behind her, with my back almost against the wall, but I had to laugh. Apparently I only ‘thought’ I had been sitting in the lowliest of positions. Jesus said when you are invited to a wedding feast, “…take the lowest place, so that when your host comes, he will say to you, ‘Friend, move up to a better place.’ Then you will be honored in the presence of all your fellow guests. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” (Luke14:10-11 NIV)

November 22, 2013

What You Ask For

Three months ago my friend had a breast biopsy and I prayed was that no cancer would be found. My prayer was answered, but the radiologist called her back last week for another biopsy. In hindsight I realize that my prayer should have been, if there is cancer, please let them find it. God does have a sense of humor. No sooner had that thought crossed my mind than I received a call from my own radiologist wanting to re-do my mammogram for clarification. Well there you go now; at least I know what to pray for in this situation.

November 21, 2013


A medical report out of the UK is causing debate on whether or not newborns should be swaddled. It is suggested that restricting leg movement in developing bones might cause hip problems in the future. One doctor who is against the practice said, “When a baby is growing let him grow.” I think the same can be said for the Gospel. When I hear something that isn’t quite in sync with the Word, my first reaction is to either restrict what is said, or correct the person saying it. I’m afraid I wouldn’t have handled the situation with Apollos quite as delicately as did Aquila and Priscilla. Apollos knew the Scripture, spoke with great fervor and taught about Jesus accurately; however, he lacked understanding in the area of baptism. “…When Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they invited him to their home and explained to him the way of God more adequately.” (Acts 18:26b NIV)

November 20, 2013


At the Passover meal Jesus revealed that one of his disciples would betray Him. Interestingly the reaction from the disciples was not one of anger, but one of sadness. One after another they said to Him, “Surely not I, Lord?” (Matt 26:22 NIV) Certainly at this particular Lord’s Supper Judas was the only betrayer. However, when we partake of the Lord’s Supper each Sunday, the question might be asked, ‘Is there a Judas among us today?’ One who may be dipping his hand in the bowl as an act of ritual, rather than an act of remembrance. One who refuses to examine himself, or one who takes the emblems in an unworthy manner. ‘Surly not I Lord?’

November 19, 2013


The communion meditation was given by an old-time preacher with a deep, rich voice. I was struck by how he affectionately caressed the Lord’s name every time he said ‘Jesus’. Similar to a singer holding a note, the speaker held the ‘e’ in Jesus and his emphasis delivered an unexpected depth to the Lord’s name. I tried to recall how I’ve said ‘mother’ and I realized that tone, inflection and intensity can all convey different types of affection. More importantly it occurs to me that when I use the name ‘Jesus’, it’s often very matter of fact and lacking emotion. I’m wondering if all of us should be giving the Lord’s name a little more vocal consideration. “Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Phil 2:9-11 NIV)

November 18, 2013


I have always heard that the word blessed means “happy”. However, one of my New Testament text books calls that a mistake noting that those who mourn are not happy. The text says blessed actually means “congratulation to” and it reflects God’s estimate, rather than human emotions. The Lord’s words take on new meaning when read:
Congratulations to the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.    
Congratulations to those who mourn, for they will be comforted.    
Congratulations to the meek, for they will inherit the earth.    
Congratulations to those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
Congratulations to the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.   
Congratulations to the pure in heart, for they will see God.    
Congratulations to the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.
Congratulations to those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Congratulations to you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” (Matt 5:3-11 NIV)

November 15, 2013

Out of Poverty

A fellow believer lamented she would be lowering her financial support to the church because of a recent, long-term medical crisis. I sympathized, knowing that her reasoning was shared by many, but all the while the voice in my head was saying, our giving corresponds with our income, not with our expenditures. However, after further thought, I decided that my friend may have been saying that her current giving far exceeds that of a tithe and she regrets that she’ll no longer be able to be as generous. My thoughts turned to the widow who put two copper coins into the temple treasury. Jesus using the situation as an object lesson for his disciples said, “I tell you the truth, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.” (Mark12:43-44 NIV) I’m not sure that I’ve ever known someone to ‘give out of their poverty’.

November 14, 2013

The Heart of the Matter

The Associated Press is reporting that America is following in the steps of Great Britain and establishing atheist mega-churches, supposedly for those folks who consider themselves spiritual, but not religious. One of the co-founders, Sanderson Jones, said the idea stemmed from a Christmas carol concert he attended six years ago. Apparently Jones loved everything about the concert, “…but it’s a shame because at the heart of it, it’s something I don’t believe in.” Apparently Jones and his fellow atheists think they can replicate a spiritual feeling in their fellowship without the Spirit in attendance. My first thought is to be indignant, but the truth is that these folks are no different than some of our churches today who try to enhance their services by borrowing elements of entertainment from secular concerts. The real danger I see here is the atheist trying to hijack spirituality – painting themselves as being spiritual and labeling believers being ‘religious’.

November 13, 2013

Palming It Off

Next week we’ve scheduled an all-church potluck dinner to celebrate not only Thanksgiving, but also paying off the church mortgage. There was a need for a presenter to recap our journey for the last six years, but a couple of men jokingly declined the position saying that they thought others were, ‘trying to palm something off on them.’ It’s interesting that rather than seeing this as an opportunity, it was viewed as an unwanted responsibility. I was reminded of Moses trying to squirm out of leading the Israelites out of Egypt. In order to help with Moses’ credentials, God gave him three different miraculous signs to perform in front of the people. Still hesitant, Moses responded that he was not the right man for the job because he was slow in speech and tongue. I have to laugh…Moses had three miraculous signs in his arsenal and he references his lack of eloquence as a speaker. Certainly miraculous signs are not warranted for our little potluck celebration, but it’s good to be reminded of the Lord’s words to Moses, “Who gave man his mouth? Who makes him deaf or mute? Who gives him sight or makes him blind? Is it not I, the LORD? Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say.” (Ex 4:11 NIV)

November 12, 2013


As I sample different apple varieties, the seeds popping out when I cut into them make me think of Johnny Appleseed – the legendary John Chapman, who planted apple trees and orchards across America. I know this pioneer seed-planter saw some of the fruit of his labor, because he made return trips to the orchards he planted. In one way or another, we today are still reaping the benefit of his labor. I’m now considering picking spiritual fruit from trees planted decades ago by our Christian forefathers. While I have this image of the Apostle Paul being the spiritual Jonny Appleseed of his day, I do wonder what history will reveal about the seeds planted by our generation. “I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow.” (1Cor 3:6 NIV)

November 11, 2013

Veteran’s Day

Serving our country in the military is a badge of honor and we are grateful to all those who make that sacrifice and commitment. Recently there have been a couple of awkward Veteran’s stories making headlines in my community. Speaking as a Veteran myself, I’m somewhat embarrassed that these fellow vets would use their prior service as a weapon to fight against the rules of establishment. If you were to take away the military status from their argument, no one would listen to their entitlement agenda. I thought of the incident in the temple courts when Jesus, in righteous anger, turned over the tables of the money changers. No doubt the Lord also felt disappointment and embarrassment that these men would put their own occupations above temple worship. Jesus said to them, “It is written, ‘My house will be called a house of prayer’, but you are making it a ‘den of robbers.’” (Matt 21:13 NIV)

November 08, 2013

Passing Through

On occasion we’ve had people ingratiate themselves into the church and then after a time they abandon our fellowship and move on to another body of believers. It appears to me that rather than looking for a place to worship, they are looking for a place with a readymade audience of followers where they can teach, lead, and serve without oversight. This scenario happens frequently enough that I have this image of the congregation being assessed as a pitiful lot who needs someone to guide us into enlightenment. Unfortunately these pass-through folks don’t understand that the open arms of fellowship are not the same thing as an open door of opportunity for them to step into a leadership role. The Apostle Paul warned the church in Ephesus to stop giving false teachers a platform, because they were promoting controversies rather than God’s work. “Some have wandered away from these and turned to meaningless talk. They want to be teachers of the law, but they do not know what they are talking about or what they so confidently affirm.” (1 Tim 1:6-7 NIV)

November 07, 2013


On a recent hospital visit Bill took a step back when he was told he couldn’t enter the room unless he put on a gown, mask and gloves. Our friend Judy, a fellow believer, had a staph infection that was resistant to antibiotics. Speaking loudly from across the room she laughed, “It’s for your protection, not mine.” Even though she is not yet cured, the antibiotics finally started working and she is no longer contagious. I find it interesting that medical community understands infectious disease and they respond quickly with treatment and precautions. However, we in the church don’t even want to acknowledge the existence of spiritual diseases, much less try to protect ourselves and others.  Paul reminds us, “Since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God.” (2 Cor 7:1 NIV)

November 06, 2013

Bad Tree

My friend gave me a couple sacks of Golden Delicious apples from the tree in his backyard. They were so good that they caused me to go on an apple kick. When I went to replenish the apple stock I bought a variety of Gala, Fuji, Red and Golden Delicious. The apples were blemish free and beautiful, but they were also mealy and lacking flavor. So now I’m wondering if the apples were simply picked at the wrong time, or if they were left setting in shipping crate for too long. Jesus often uses fruit analogies, but I’d completely missed the fact that a bad tree is still capable of bearing fruit – bad fruit. “Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit.” (Matt 7:17-18 NIV)

November 05, 2013

Casting Your Cares

Every Sunday before communion one of our men will give a brief meditation that leads the congregation to remember that the emblems, the grape juice and the wafer, represent Christ’s broken body and shed blood. Each meditation is unique as to how the speaker wants to unite our thoughts with the Lord’s Supper. Occasionally a speaker will grab my attention with the pre-prayer statement, ‘If you are burdened, you need healing, or maybe you have a friend with problems, now is a good time to bring those prayers and petitions before the Lord.’ I’m not saying it is wrong to cast all our cares on Jesus, but I’m just not convinced that during communion is the right time to lay personal needs before Lord. Jesus did not tell us, ‘Whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup tell me your problems and your needs.’ Rather he broke the bread saying, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.” (1 Cor 11:24-26 NIV)

November 04, 2013

Mind Reader

In preparation for getting married, selling her condo, and moving to the Front Range, our daughter and her dog, Charlie, lived with us for four months. For weeks I’d been trying to read Charlie’s mind as he demanded my attention by sitting at my feet and staring up at me with big brown eyes. Does he need to go for a walk, is he hungry, does he want to play, or is he asking for a treat? I have to admit that lately I’ve been more attentive to Charlie’s nuances than to those in the family. Thinking of this on a spiritual level, I’m now questioning my attentiveness to the Spirit. I stay active in the Word, so I’m not neglecting the Lord; however, I’m wondering if I should be looking for ways to be more sensitive to the Spirit. “However, as it is written: “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him”- but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the man’s spirit within him? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God.” (1 Cor 2:9-11 NIV)

November 01, 2013

Princess Bride

During the weeks leading up my daughter’s wedding we brainstormed on the preparations, but all the suggestions stopped with the caveat, ‘this is your wedding, so you need to have things the way you want them.’ The choice in bridal gowns styles was almost overwhelming - long length or tea length, sleeves or sleeveless, white or off-white. Interestingly, Leslie made her final selection based not on current trends, or a specific look, but rather on feelings. “I want to feel like a princess.” All believers have given some consideration to the Lord’s return, that wedding feast of the Lamb, when He claims the church as the Bride of Christ. There will be rejoicing, however, I’m now wondering if I have been remiss in not thinking more about how I will feel. “I delight greatly in the LORD; my soul rejoices in my God. For he has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.” (Isaiah 61:10 NIV)

October 31, 2013

Eyes to See

A gigantic front-end loader, not known for speed, was in a commercial parking lot waiting for traffic to clear before turning onto the highway. Immediately behind him was a brand new Cadillac with a munched in hood. I know it’s not funny, but I had to laugh. The driver of the car couldn’t possible have had any speed, other than rolling up to the stop sign before she too could enter traffic. So, how on earth could she not see the rear end of the piece of yellow equipment she was sticking her car under? The front-end loader was obviously unscathed and the equipment driver just stood there shaking his head. “The prudent see danger and take refuge, but the simple keep going and suffer for it.” (Proverbs 27:12 NIV)

October 30, 2013

Do You Not Know

So often when we come face to face with sin in society, we either don’t know what to say, or we are afraid to say anything to the offender. The Apostle Paul has an interesting teaching method that he used, particularly with the church in Corinth. When he encountered a sinful situation he would ask the offender, or the audience, ‘Do you not know…?’ To me it is as though he is saying, ‘Didn’t you get the memo?’ I’m thinking we could incorporate Paul’s method into our conversation skill-set today. Modern day examples that I can see using would be: Do you not know that abortion offends God? Do you not know that sexual immorality is an abomination to God? “Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you?” (1 Cor 3:16 NIV)

October 29, 2013

Seeking Advice

An advice columnist recently got a letter from a mother of three young children - middle school and elementary age. Her question wasn’t about whether or not to get a divorce, but rather when to get a divorce. The children, and apparently the husband, had no inkling there theirs was not a happy family. However, the mother was miserable and didn’t think she could wait 10 years until the kids went off to college. She wondered if the children would handle the divorce better now, or when they got to high school. Obviously the mother was looking for divorce support from a non-invested party. I was reminded of King Rehoboam who consulted the elders that had served his father Solomon on how to rule the people. Rejecting their advice, however, he sought the counsel of the young men he’d grown up with. It is amazing how we seek advice from those we think will agree with our plans. “Woe to the obstinate children,” declares the LORD, “to those who carry out plans that are not mine, forming an alliance, but not by my Spirit, heaping sin upon sin… (Isaiah 30:1 NIV)

October 28, 2013

Burdening the Church

The other day a woman looking for financial help called the church and I listened to her hard luck story. She lost her apartment, didn’t have a job or a car, and she could only survive for a week in her current circumstances. With every suggestion I made about where she might find assistance, she counter punched with justification on why it wouldn’t help. I told her the deacon in charge of our church benevolence would have to interview her first, but unfortunately he was recovering from surgery. She understood, and as if to say she was worthy of help, she said that she attended church with her mom. Then in a quick follow up she said, “But I can’t stay with my family because they don’t have room for me.” Tactfully (at least I think I was tactful) I told her that it’s a family’s responsibility to take care of each another so that the church won’t be burdened. Abruptly she said good-by and hung up. “If any woman who is a believer has widows in her family, she should help them and not let the church be burdened with them, so that the church can help those widows who are really in need.” (1 Tim 5:16 NIV)

October 25, 2013

Here comes the Bride

My daughter, Leslie, is getting married tomorrow and for six months we’ve been in the midst of all the preparation trying to make everything perfect. This last week we’ve been putting the finishing touches on the bride herself – the dress, shoes, and make-up selection. A few days we’ve timed how long it takes to style her hair and played with different hair care products to see which one gives her the desired look she is after. I’m now wondering if we believers get so focused on getting to heaven that we forget the daily preparations needed for being the Bride of Christ. “Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready.” (Rev 19:7 NIV)

October 24, 2013

Drinking the Kool-Aid

I’m starting on-line classes again and one of my text books, written by Robert H. Gundry, is titled A Survey of the New Testament. Putting the NT in historical context, Gundry describes the varying sects of that day - Sadducees, Pharisees, and Essenes - and to what extent they followed or manipulated the law. Apparently the legalism of the Essenes exceeded that of even the Pharisees, and they were obsessed with ritual purity. “To maintain ritual purity, they even refrained from bowel movements on the Sabbath; and to symbolize that purity they wore white robes.” OK…I can understand someone coming up with such a hair brained idea, but what I don’t get is their being able to convince 4,000 others to go along with it. “If anyone teaches false doctrines and does not agree to the sound instruction of our Lord Jesus Christ and to godly teaching, he is conceited and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy interest in controversies and quarrels about words that result in envy, strife, malicious talk, evil suspicions and constant friction between men of corrupt mind, who have been robbed of the truth and who think that godliness is a means to financial gain.” (1 Tim 6:3-5 NIV)

October 23, 2013


Scripture not only recommends, but instructs us to rebuke one another when necessary and appropriate. Most of us are still working on the love one another aspect of being a disciple and the call to rebuke others is way down at the bottom of our must-learn-how-to-do-list. Personally I think we should take a page from Jude. “The archangel Michael, when he was disputing with the devil about the body of Moses, did not dare to bring a slanderous accusation against him, but said, “The Lord rebuke you!” Maybe when a fellow believer needs discipline or correction we should simply ask the Lord to do it. (Jude 9 NIV)

October 22, 2013


I’m still chewing on the newly established Community Spirit Church. This congregation purports to have a wide embrace where it is OK to bring your whole self and be real, implying that people are closeted in their worship. Their spokesperson said, “This church is still growing and developing its identity, something it will continue to do over the next few years.” Fascinating…I can only imagine what these folks will look like once they have come up with a fully developed spiritual identity. For believers, our identity is in Christ, we are created to be like God. “You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds;  and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” (Eph 4-22-24 NIV)

October 21, 2013

Open Door Policy

When it comes to weddings, many churches place restrictions on their facilities, such as not allowing dancing, or alcohol consumption on the premises during receptions. It’s interesting to me where some churches draw the line. I just read that a local Episcopal Church is partnering with other groups and organizations for space in their facility. One of their partners is the newly crafted Community Spirit Church. According to the newspaper report this new addition to the religious landscape describe themselves as a, ‘theologically open-minded congregation’ who takes their faith and the Bible seriously, however, they do not take the Bible literally. It’s almost funny…if it weren’t so sad. While most churches work hard at keeping new age influences out of their buildings, others throw open the doors and invite them in.

October 18, 2013

Looking Back to See

At 0’Dark 30 I took Charlie, the dog, out to the back yard for his predawn relief. He was in front of me on the sidewalk, while I was shinning the flashlight ahead of us so we could see where we were going. A couple of times he stopped and looked back at me as if to say, ‘Are you coming?’ I laughed and thought, ‘You silly dog, I’m the one holding the flashlight and lighting your way…of course I’m coming!’ I suppose we believers are sometimes no different than Charlie. Our forward progress gets stuck because we’re looking back trying to reassure ourselves that the Lord is still there. “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.” (Psalm 119:105 NIV)

October 17, 2013

The Victory

Recently a friend in his 80’s dropped dead from a heart attack. No ambulance, no hospital, and no nursing home. I have another friend who is fighting cancer and desperately wants to live, but the prognosis is for only a few months. Sometimes we believers forget that, just as God has plans for our life, He also has pre-planned our death. Neither we, nor Death, gets to choose the time, place, and means for our dying. Our death scenario was chosen with God’s purpose and our obedience in mind and I wonder what is in store for my passing from death into life. God didn’t allow Jesus to have a heart attack or succumbed to cancer, but rather He sent the Lord to the cross. “When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: ‘Death has been swallowed up in victory.’ Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” (1 Cor 15:54-55 NIV)

October 16, 2013

What You Ask For

For most of her life my octogenarian friend has been a writer, however it wasn’t until this past year that her first book was published. Although she fulfilled every writer’s dream of becoming a published author, her writing has now taken a back seat to the marketing, selling and promoting of her book. Just listening to her schedule of networking, book signings and publicity endeavors makes me tired. Betty laughed, “I don’t know if it’s worth it at my age to even think about writing another book.” I was reminded of the old adage that says, ‘be careful for what you ask for, because you just might get it’. God gives us the desires of our heart, but it is within in His will, His timing…and when we are fully equipped to go beyond our desires.

October 15, 2013

Pet Names

A few weeks ago I was walking the dog in the park when a young man in his late teens was struggling with his unleashed pit bull. While the dog was on an exploratory mission, the owner kept calling, “Allah, Allah…come here Allah.” I could only shake my head at the choice of his pet name. And then this week I had to laugh at the absurdity of the Malaysian court of appeals handing down a decision that if you are non-Muslin, you cannot speak the name Allah. Thankfully our God is the Living God. Believers are restricted from taking the Lord’s name in vain; however, anyone is free to call on his Name. “As the Scripture says, ‘Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame.’ For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, for, ‘Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’” (Ro 10:11-13 NIV)

October 14, 2013

The Voice

In an Associated Press article Tom Coyne reported on an Indiana family who lost their 19-year-old daughter in a car accident in 2008 and for the last five years they have paid the cell phone bill so they could listen to their daughter’s voice mail greeting. Unfortunately, in a routine upgrade the service provider deleted the greeting and the family is once again grieving because of the loss of their daughter’s voice. I can picture the disciples in the same state of grief knowing they would never again hear the Lord’s voice. However, Jesus told them, “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.” (Rev 3:20 NIV)

October 11, 2013


I recently received a campaign invitation to spend an evening of discussion with a candidate. The fundraising component of the invitation gave me whiplash, “Minimum $50 donation recommended not required.” Sadly, we believers can sound the same way when we manipulate Scripture and make it more palatable. Some in today’s church infer that God would accept, ‘minimum love-donation 100% is recommended but not required’. Jesus is not ambiguous about the Greatest Commandment in the Law, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” (Matt 22:37 NIV)

October 10, 2013


Normally on a church prayer chain there is some known association with the person making the request, but occasionally there will be a friend of a friend request. Recently, as the result of a chance meeting, during a shopping trip, a request came in third hand. The need was for a kidney transplant; however the request didn’t relate to the transplant list, surgery, or finances. Rather it was for a donor who would be willing to be tested for compatibility and if there were a match, would then donate a kidney. At first I was a little taken back by the enormity of the request, but that was followed by uneasiness that the prayer chain had just become a networking tool – with man helping man. Referring to the battles within us, James said, “…You do not have, because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.” (James 4:2b-3 NIV)

October 09, 2013

Reading the Cues

Charlie the dog will bring me a squeaky toy when he wants to howl and a dog biscuit when he wants to growl and play keep-away. Of course there are also those times when he gives me a stare down and I haven’t got a clue as to what he wants. In thinking of it from Charlie’s perspective it’s entirely possible that rather than my being attentive to him, maybe he’s being attentive me. I’m wondering if he thinks I am the one in need a lift, so he offers a song of howling, or that he is entertaining me with a little bit of keep-away. During those stare down moments it just might be that he is asking me what I want from him, rather than vice versa. “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD.” (Isaiah 55:8 NIV)

October 08, 2013

What a Friend

My kids have introduced me to the on-line game Candy Crush Saga, a game of removing various types of candies from the board by matching three in a row. There are your regular jelly beans, lemon drops and red hots, but there are also special candies that have the power wipe out a line of candies, or explode in all directions. Along the way there are various obstacles that make the levels progressively harder, such as candies tied up in licorice rope or covered with jelly. Interestingly one of the biggest roadblocks is the requirement that you must ask three friends on Facebook to help you before you can proceed to the next stage. First, I had to join Facebook, then I had to find three friends who played the game, then I had to play nice with my new found friends and ask them for favors…such as additional lives in the game. Honestly I’d rather just play the game and not depend on others for my progress.
Not that this game models salvation, but more than a few of us approach the Lord in a similar manner. We want to play the game of eternal life, but we don’t want to have to go through our Friend, Jesus, to get that new life.

October 07, 2013

Measure of a Church

The change of seasons, holidays and the start of school can all cause a burp in the church attendance graph. I’ve noticed that most of us use attendance for taking the pulse of the church and it determines whether we think we are healthy, sick or coming down with something. It’s interesting that when the Lord spoke to the seven churches in Revelation, not one of the churches were evaluated on the basis of how many people were in attendance at their worship service. The Lord didn’t say, ‘To the angel of the church in Montrose write: I have this against you…you have let your numbers dwindle’.

October 04, 2013

Returning the Excess

When my eight year-old granddaughter Lydia, opened presents during her Birthday party the card from her great-grandmother contained money. The card read, ‘Here is $1.00 for every year.’ Lydia giggled as she counted the money, “There’s $10.00 here…and I’m only eight!” Without batting an eye or seeking any advice from the adults in the room, Lydia pulled out two of the dollar bills and handed them to me so I could return them to great-grandma Ruth. We all laughed at Lydia’s quick thinking and her childlike honesty, but the situation gave me pause. God often gives us more than we need or deserve, but how many of us so willingly give the excess back to God?

October 03, 2013

Blowing Smoke

I think it would be a great offense for a smoker to deliberately blow smoke in the face of a non-smoker. Yet time and again we see people throwing their personal agendas – racial prejudices, sexual orientation, and religious beliefs – in the face of others. My initial reaction to such situations is to put those people on my dislike list. However, I just realized that it is not actually the person I dislike, but it’s their rudeness in those circumstances. Merriam-Webster defines rude as: not having or showing concern or respect for the rights and feelings of other people: not polite. Obviously we can’t make anyone respect our rights, but we can expose their actions as rude, even if that person happens to be a fellow believer. “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self–seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.” (1 Cor 13:4-5 NIV)

October 02, 2013

Paved With Gold

My husband and I, along with a County Commissioner and his wife, play cards every few weeks with Marvin and his wife, Helen. As long as I’ve known him, Marvin has complained about the disrepair of the county road that goes past his house. Not a card playing night goes by without him gently bending the Commissioner’s ear about the lack of attention to his pot-holed county road. This last Friday we played cards at Marvin’s house and he jokingly asked the Commissioner how he liked driving on the county road to get to the house. Marvin passed away on Monday. I’m thinking the Commissioner is now off the hook and Marvin is content because there are no potholes in heaven. John describes the New Jerusalem, “The twelve gates were twelve pearls, each gate made of a single pearl. The great street of the city was of pure gold, like transparent glass.” (Rev 21:21 NIV)

October 01, 2013

Behind Curtain # 1

The CDC has recently put out a very graphic anti-smoking media campaign called Tips From Former Smokers. In order to educate the public to the hazards of cigarette smoking, former smokers tell their stories and show the price they are now paying in the form of disfiguring and debilitating cancer treatments. In promoting the powerful campaign one supporter said, “These ads are pulling back the curtain on smoking.” Scripture does something similar when it exposes the consequences of sin and its effects on the lives of Biblical characters. I contemplating whether there would be any impact on people today if we believers were to pull the curtain back on our past sins and show the price we are now paying.

September 30, 2013


Last weekend the ladies at church hosted a wedding shower for my daughter, Leslie. They began the festivities by asking everyone to introduce themselves and tell something about their relationship, or interaction with the bride. It was a trip down memory lane as ladies recounted stories, memories and long forgotten accomplishments. Of course all the comments given were a tribute to Leslie and her character, but beyond being the proud mother of the bride, I think I actually caught a glimpse of heaven. The writer of Hebrews talks about believers being surrounded by a “great crowd of witnesses”, who are spiritual heroes of the past, but I had never thought of a living crowd of witnesses surrounding us today. The Lord is not the only witness when we give a drink to the thirsty, feed hungry and visit the sick. “The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.”(Matt 25:40 NIV)

September 27, 2013


A wheelchair bound man, who hadn’t had a date in years, thought his handicap was holding him back from having a girlfriend and developing meaningful relationships. He turned to Dear Abby for help and she directed him to organized agencies and social outlets. After encouraging him in his quest, she ended her advice with, “There is a saying, ‘Seek and ye shall find,’ and it applies to your situation.” (9/26/2013) It’s interesting the Abby would relegate the words of Jesus to simply being a ‘saying’, as though the phrase might well have come out of a fortune cookie, or the mouth of Confucius. For the record Jesus said, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.” (Matt 7:7-8 NIV) People often confuse seeking The Door to the Father with doors of opportunity and fulfillment.

September 26, 2013

Carrying One Another’s Burdens

Recently there was a heartwarming story of a homeless man who was honored for turning in a satchel he found which was filled with almost $45,000 in cash and travelers checks. The man said that even if he were desperate, he wouldn’t have taken any of the money. The honoree lost his job of 13 years because of health reasons. He now lives a shelter, gets food stamps, and panhandles to make money for laundry and other necessities. Reportedly he said he, “…doesn’t want to be a burden to his relatives and that people at the shelter help him. He said God has always looked after him.” I appreciate the man’s moral compass which points to God and returning what belongs to another. However, I find it bewildering when people say they don’t want to burden their relatives, yet they have no problem burdening the taxpayer. I suppose it is easier for a panhandler to say he doesn’t want to burden his relatives than it is to say, ‘my relatives will no longer give me support’.

September 25, 2013

Offer of Proof

I find the tragic mall shooting taking place in Kenya to be very thought provoking. Laying siege to the expansive shopping mall, terrorists are killing Christians and anyone one else who is not Muslim. It is reported that the litmus test given to shoppers is that they must quote a certain prayer or say the name of a specific relative of Mohammad. If they fail the quiz they are immediately gunned down. I‘m thinking that if these demands and roles were reversed, where victims would be spared if they were Christian, many of them might still get shot. Sadly, people roaming the Christian landscape today might also fail the test because they can’t come up with the names of Jesus’ relatives, nor be able to recite the Lord’s Prayer.

September 24, 2013

Getting the Last Word

Last week an obituary became an Internet sensation when it exposed a 78 year-old deceased mother of eight as being the perpetrator of mental, physical, and emotional abuse on her children. AP writer’s Scott Sonner and Sandra Chereb reported the adult children were celebrating their biological mother’s passing and quoted one son as saying, “The main purpose for putting it [abuse] in there was to bring awareness to the child abuse. And shame her a little bit.” Maybe the adult children will gain some peace and community support through their very public revelations. However, the idea that it might somehow shame their mother is intriguing. The woman apparently felt no shame during her life as an abuser; it seems unlikely that she will feel shame when she stands before the Lord. Of course I have to remember the story Jesus told of the rich man and Lazarus, who both died at the same time. Lazarus went to the place of righteousness and the rich man went to hell. The rich man’s torment must have finally reached a compassionate nerve because he said to Abraham, “Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my father’s house, for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.” (Luke 16:27-28 NIV)

September 23, 2013


As though he were on an amusement park ride the child in the grocery cart came straight at me giggling and waving arms and legs in the air. It took me a second to realize the young dad was pushing the cart from the basket rather than the handle, giving his son the full effect of facing forward with nothing obstructing his view. They reminded me of bobsledders as they sped through the produce isle with the child as the driver and the dad as the brakeman. I am amazed at this innovative father who found a way to let his child look forward. I’m thinking we believers could learn something here…looking forward can be much more exciting than looking backwards at where we just came from.

September 20, 2013

Creating You Own god

In a neighboring community a Unitarian-Universalist Congregation is starting an evening study titled, Build Your Own Theology. The press release reads, “Based on the assumption that everyone is their own theologian, the classic Unitarian adult education program invites members to develop their own personal credos, fundamental religious beliefs, values and convictions that inform and direct their lives.” I’m not sure where one would begin to build their own theology, unless of course you borrow a little of this from one religion and a little of that from another. It must be lonely worshipping your own ideas…unless of course you can suck others into your way of thinking.

September 19, 2013

Preparing for Rescue

A few weeks back Chinook helicopters were doing high altitude training exercises in our area. One resident complained to elected officials because of the noise and she also had safety concerns because the helicopters were flying so close to her home.

Fast forward to last week and the devastating floods on Colorado’s front range. What I find interesting is the training that was going on in our backyard is now bearing fruit as Chinook helicopters are the only means of rescuing hundreds stranded people from the flood waters.

I see a reverse of this situation with the prophet Jonah. A vine, which once had shaded Jonah from the blazing sun, withered and died. Jonah was angry and more concerned about the plant dying than he was about the people of Nineveh perishing. The Lord’s perspective is quite different when he tells Jonah, “You have been concerned about this vine, though you did not tend it or make it grow. It sprang up overnight and died overnight. But Nineveh has more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left, and many cattle as well. Should I not be concerned about that great city?” (Jonah 4:10-11 NIV)

September 18, 2013


My mother-in-law just turned 90, but we couldn’t celebrate this milestone with her until she returned home from a weeklong conference in Maine. A week after Ruth returned home we had an open house and invited friends and family to the Birthday celebration. As the party progressed I was getting weary, but I could hear Ruth visiting with friends and making plans for the conferences of 2014 in Reno and 2015 San Antonio. Don’t get me wrong, it’s wonderful that at 90 years of age Ruth is healthy and active, but I have to tell you she is making some of the rest of us look really bad. The Psalmist considers the advanced years of the righteous and says they will flourish like a palm tree, “They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green, proclaiming, “The LORD is upright; he is my Rock, and there is no wickedness in him.” (Psalm 92:14-15 NIV)

September 17, 2013

Too Much of a Good Thing

A recent editorial in my local paper cites that when it comes to the number of nonprofits in one location, our city is one of the leaders in the State. No wonder I get so irritable every time a fundraiser knocks on my door, or I have to run an obstacle course of good causes in order to go to the grocery store. The newspaper correctly diagnosed the community as having “charity fatigue”, but I question their prescription. Their cure is to have one community umbrella organization receiving donated funds and then dispersing those funds to other nonprofits who qualify for support. Wow…This would be like asking all the churches in the city to put their tithes in one pot and then an umbrella agency would oversee dispensing the tithes as they deem appropriate.

September 16, 2013

As Long as He Lives

Both previously widowed, Laura and her fiancé David attended Laura’s 50th class reunion. When she asked David to take a picture of her and her gal pals, Laura absent mindedly called David by her deceased husband’s name, Nick. One of her friends elbowed her in the ribs while another whispered in her ear, “David…His name is David!”
Very matter-of-factly David re-told of the episode saying, “Well, it’s not like I haven’t called her Karen a couple of times.” I laughed at how non-pulsed both were at the faux-pas. Shrugging it off Laura quipped, “It’s OK. Really, David and I don’t care…and Nick and Karen don’t care either!”
Laura and David are both believers, so I’m certain they have Paul’s blessing. “A woman is bound to her husband as long as he lives. But if her husband dies, she is free to marry anyone she wishes, but he must belong to the Lord.” (1 Cor 7:39 NIV)

September 13, 2013

Please Pass the Baton

On more than one occasion Paul compares the Christian life to running a race. The image that usually comes to my mind is one of individual competition and Paul even says that only one person gets the prize. However, I’m wondering if the race I’m running more closely resembles a relay race. As part of a relay team I still have an individual responsibility to, “Run in such a way as to get the prize.” (1 Cor 9:24b NIV), but I’m positioned in the leg of the race that is best suited to my abilities. Just as Paul passed the baton to Timothy and others in the early church, the race continues today and everyone has not only an opportunity, but an obligation, to run in the race and carry the baton.

September 12, 2013

There is No Free Lunch

There are two well established meal sites in my community who are purported to be in great need of volunteers, food staples and fresh produce. I find the number of free breakfast and lunch meals served to be astounding for our mid-size community. Both organizations boast of being respectful of their clientele’s situation in life, “We’ll feed anyone who comes in for a meal; we never ask any questions [about their financial need].  The Prodigal son who squandered his wealth in wild living comes to mind. I have to wonder if he ever would have come to his senses and returned to his Father had his employer served him a daily complimentary breakfast and lunch. This lost son, “…longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything. (Lk 15:16 NIV)

September 11, 2013

The Door

We have one back door that we seldom use, but it can serve as an emergency exit if we ever have the need. The other day when Bill decided to use the door as a short cut to the alley the family dog, Charlie, was hot on his heels. Charlie, who didn’t even know the door existed, stopped dead in his tracks when the door opened and the whole outside world greeted him. I had to laugh. It was definitely one of those Wizard of Oz moments when the world of black and white suddenly turns to color. Wouldn’t you just love to have a Lord’s-eye-view of people when they open the door to Jesus? “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.” (Rev 3:20 NIV)

September 10, 2013

Righteous Man

Recently New York mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner got into a shouting match with a Jewish constituent who confronted Weiner about his sexting scandal and the hurt it must have caused his wife. Unable to shut the constituent down, an angry Weiner got in his face and accused him of judging, “You are not superior to me. You are not my God.” Weiner went on to call the constituent a jackass.
First let me say, kudos the Jewish man for standing firm while shining a light on sexual immorality.
Although Weiner is correct in that the man was not God, that doesn’t mean that the Jewish man wasn’t sent by God. Jesus said, “…anyone who receives a righteous man because he is a righteous man will receive a righteous man’s reward.” (Matt 10:41b NIV)

September 09, 2013

Go Team, Go

The game show ‘Wipeout’ has contestants racing against one another on an obstacle course, and depending on the show, they participate either as individuals, or on teams of two. During a recent episode one contestant was trying to get his partner out from under some pressure so he told her to just take her time. From the announcer’s booth one of the hosts quipped, “Yeah right…it’s not like this is a race or anything.”
I had to laugh because if I were a contestant I too would have slipped into the role of being an encourager by telling my teammates to take their time and just do their best.
I can almost hear the Apostle Paul groan, “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.” (1Cor 9:24 NIV)

September 06, 2013

Melodic Sounds

Walking through the park the other day the quiet stillness was interrupted by measured squeaking coming from the playground swings. Unlike the annoying squeak of a pulley in need of oiling, the swings rhythmic call brought back memories of youth, carefree summers and reaching for the sky. I continued walking and when I had a line of sight through the trees I could see a group of handicapped adults swinging and enjoying an unhurried field trip. For a moment I felt a little envious that, even at their chronological age, they were still enjoying their youth. “Remember your Creator in the days of your youth, before the days of trouble come and the years approach when you will say, “I find no pleasure in them”— (Eccl 12:1 NIV)

September 05, 2013

Ready, Set…Maybe Not

Last Sunday the preacher reminded us that even with Jesus preaching, not everyone was convicted. He went on to say, “Some people are just not ready, not open to the Lord.” For some reason this was one of those ah-ha moments. When my witnessing seems unsuccessful with friends and family I usually think of it in terms of rejection, rebellion and lack of understanding. I’m not so sure that I’ve ever looked at the lost sheep that I’m trying to reach as simply not being ready. What a relief. Just because I am ready and prepared to impart the WORD doesn’t mean my friend is ready to receive the Gospel. If a guy’s not ready, he’s just not ready.

September 04, 2013


I’ve been helping a couple of people update their resumes and both have worked for their respective companies for so many years that they have trouble recognizing their own value. For them, talking them through their talents, abilities and accomplishments is a real eye opener. They begin to realize they are much more than ‘just’ an employee, they are an asset. I can imagine David’s reaction to being labeled, “a man after God’s own heart” or Nathaniel being described as, “one in whom there is no guile”. I’m now beginning to think it might be a good idea if we all thought about updating our spiritual resumes. After all, we are more than ‘just’ a Christian.