May 31, 2013

Expiration Date

Last Sunday my friend Harry came to church sporting a red boutonniere, which was in recognition of his 97th Birthday. While we talked about his good health and longevity he said, “I’ll tell you something better than that…I just got my driver’s license renewed and now I can drive until I’m 102!” I had to laugh. Most of our elderly folks are worried that someone will take away their car keys and the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) just handed Harry the keys to heaven on earth. “Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” (Psalm 90:12 NIV)

May 30, 2013

As One Escaping

The media coverage on the tornado that struck Moore, OK is riveting. Homes leveled, cars totaled and personal possessions strewn for miles. Many who emerge from storm shelters will have escaped with only the clothes on their backs. Translating the images into a spiritual context gives me a vivid picture of what takes place when our earthly works are tested. “If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames.” (1 Cor 3:14-15 NIV)

May 29, 2013


The credentials for a keynote speaker at my Christian writer’s conference included being a pastor for a couple of years, a poet, and published author of more than 20 books. During his address he held up a book of another poet and asked how many knew of the author. It appeared that very few in the audience were acquainted with her work, so he encouraged us to read her wonderful books adding, “…She is a lesbian who recently lost her partner.” He then proceeded to read one of her poems to the audience. After the presentation I discussed my dismay with friends and they were quick to defend the speaker by pointing out that he is a very compassionate man. Their insinuation was that compassion can be demonstrated by being inclusive and nonjudgmental. Point taken. However, I consider my preacher to be a compassionate person, but I guarantee that neither he, nor our church leaders, would ever promote a book of poetry written by a lesbian, regardless of how well it is written.

May 28, 2013

Be Alert

I recently attended a Christian Writer’s Conference where the Director would break out in prayer during announcements, introduction of speakers...and during technical difficulties. No doubt she has a personal habit of always talking to God, but I have to tell you that after three and a half days of being in the audience I felt like a bobble-head. I couldn’t always tell whether she was taking to the group, or talking to God. Once I had my head bowed reverently when my friend Betty poked me in the ribs and said with a chuckle, “She’s done praying.” On other occasions I thought I was listening to instructions for the day, the Director would end her comments saying, “And all God’s people said…” I have to laugh when I think of God watching the spectacle of the Director and me as we both applied Paul’s instructions on prayer. The Director, praying on all occasions with all kinds of prayers…and then there I was with my eyes open and alert because I couldn’t tell her prayer from an announcement. “And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.” (Eph 6:18 NIV)

May 27, 2013

Memorial Day

A video clip for the promotion of AMC’s War Heroes Marathon, which will be televised today, caught my attention. The movie appeared to be set in the Viet Nam era with actor Sean Penn saying, “Yea though I walk through the valley of evil, I shall fear no death.” I’m not one for tampering with Scripture, but I made a connection with this twist on the Lord’s Prayer. Today we honor those who, in service to our country, did not fear death. “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” (1 Cor 15:55 NIV)

May 24, 2013

One Flesh

One of the many issues the Pharisees tested Jesus on was lawful divorce. Jesus refreshed their memory that God made us male and female and when we are united in marriage we become one flesh. “So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.” (Matthew 19:6 NIV) I find it’s interesting that the Lord is using the collective ‘let man not separate’, but yet it appears that with the recognition of civil unions man has indeed separated what God has joined together.

May 23, 2013

And You Call Yourself

As Christians our words and actions are, and should be, under scrutiny. Unfortunately when non-believers and fellow believers alike don’t like what they see or hear they make the charge, ‘And they call themselves a Christian’. Usually when we hear such an accusation we shrug our shoulders and change the subject. Rarely do we come to the defense of that Christian. We seem to forget that all believers are entitled to wear the name Christian because we have accepted Jesus as our Lord and Savior; the only disqualifier is if we reject Christ. You have to admit though that the accusatory phrase often stifles our witness. I’m now wondering…are we missing an effective tool against liberal tolerance and anti-American sentiments. Maybe in disgust we should start the mantra, “And you call yourself an American.”

May 22, 2013

Coming Soon

One of our church families, like many across the US, is going through foreclosure. Because there was only four days between the formal foreclosure notice and the sale of the property, an urgent prayer request was sent out about their immediate needs. The request also included the caveat, “The foreclosure wasn’t a surprise; it was how soon it was taking place.” It’s interesting that many of us are impatient for the Lord’s return and we wonder what is taking so long. And then there are others of us who will be surprised that His coming came so soon. “You also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.” (Luke 12:40 NIV)

May 21, 2013


We hear a lot about people who are only one paycheck away from being homeless because they live from paycheck to paycheck. In some cases there are extenuating circumstances, but often the situation can be traced back to financial mismanagement. I can’t help but think about the Parable of the Shrewd Manager who, because of mismanagement, lost his job and was likely on the verge of homelessness. Calculating his future the manager evaluated his work qualifications, “I’m not strong enough to dig, and I’m ashamed to beg.” (Luke 16:3b NIV). Being credited with shrewdness, he endeared himself to his master’s debtors so that when he was jobless he would still be welcomed into their homes. I wonder if some of today’s mis-managers could avoid the homeless title if they too evaluated their options and then practiced endearing themselves to others.

May 20, 2013

Are We Friendly?

Recently when I walked Charlie, the family dog, a fellow dog owner cautioned me from a distance, “My dog is not friendly. We need to keep them away from each other.” I appreciated the warning and we took a wide breadth as we passed one another. It was a good lesson for me and now before I let Charlie get nose to nose with another dog I ask the owner, ‘Are we friendly?’ People who church-shop often measure a congregation on the perceived friendliness. Sadly, every church fellowship has at least one or two grouches who seem to bring down the score for the entire fellowship of believers. “An unfriendly man pursues selfish ends; he defies all sound judgment.”  (Proverbs 18:1 NIV)

May 17, 2013

Not My Thing

As though she were talking about a simple outing, the mother of two young daughters told me, “I know my husband and I should go to church, but the girls go with grandma and it’s a special time for them. It’s their thing to do. When church is over they go out for lunch and I just don’t want to take anything away from grandma.” Intimating that the grandmother’s pleasure would somehow be taken away if the rest of the family tagged along is an interesting excuse. I was reminded of two men who were invited to follow Jesus. One wanted time to go bury his father who apparently had not yet died and the other wanted to go home and say good-by to his family. Jesus reminds us that there is a cost to following him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.” (Luke 9:62 NIV)

May 16, 2013

Prayer Chain

I received a generic email prayer request which began with the qualifier, “Need to keep this Prayer going. Send it to others and all your friends.” I think the originator may be confusing a prayer chain request with a chain letter request. Certainly email has enhanced the administration of church prayer chains, but I’m not so sure it qualifies as an effective tool for keeping a prayer going. Jesus taught the disciples to pray by giving them the Lord’s Prayer as a model and thankfully generations of Sunday school teachers have helped us commit the prayer to memory and perfected the right way to keep a prayer going.

May 15, 2013


Recently a recycling advocate was quoted in the newspaper, “I recycle my toothbrush – only the handles, of course….I also recycle dryer lint. That can actually go into compost.” I had to laugh when I imagined her garden plants strangling on lint compost permeated with fabric softener. It’s interesting that we are all vulnerable to self-righteousness when it comes to our personal activities or interests. Jesus pointed out that the Pharisees even took tithing to a whole new level by applying the practice to their spices. “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former.” (Matt 23:23 NIV)

May 14, 2013

Eternity is Waiting

Found guilty of killing her former boyfriend, Jodi Arias is now awaiting sentencing of either life in prison or death. During the trial, drama and lies permeated her testimony. Immediately after the verdict Ms. Arias continued the media spin by doing an interview saying she would prefer death to living the rest of her natural life in one place. She put a spiritual connotation on her situation by intimating that the eternal was a better option than prison. “Death is the ultimate freedom…I’d rather have that freedom sooner than later.” I have to wonder if she has really given thought to freedom…eternal life and eternal death. Certainly life in prison would be a miserable existence, but anyone who fails to get their spiritual ducks in a row may regret the rush to eternity. Arias’ thoughts are a stark contrast to Paul “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body.(Phil 1:21-24 NIV)

May 13, 2013

Plug It In

In my Toastmasters Club members assume different roles during our meetings – Toastmaster, Table Topics Master, Evaluator, etc. Recently one elected officer decided it would be better to pre-assign members to positions and if you couldn’t attend a meeting you were to find your own replacement. On the religious landscape we have something similar with programs designed to evaluate talents and then plug you into an area of service in the church. While scheduling others may get the job done, it really does take both the individual and God out of the decision making equation. I have to laugh when I think what it would have been like had the early church had the opportunity to give Paul his Gospel assignment. Left up to the disciples Paul might likely have remained blind and his mission field confined to Damascus and the Jews on Straight Street. Thankfully Paul was sent to all of us. “…This man is my chosen instrument to carry my name before the Gentiles and their kings and before the people of Israel.” (Acts 9:15b NIV)

May 10, 2013


A recent letter to the editor complained about people being ignorant of the law pertaining to operating a motor vehicle. “I wonder how many people know that it is against the law to pass on the [right] shoulder.” I have to laugh because to get a driver’s licenses everyone had to take a test and they know it’s illegal to pass on the shoulder…they just chose to ignore the law. We believers do the same thing when we knowingly disobey God’s commands. However, we who strive to be obedient to the WORD are no different than our worldly counterparts when we see someone breaking the Lord’s commands. The first thing that comes to mind is, “Where are the patrolmen when you need them?”

May 09, 2013

Leading a Rebellion

I’ve noticed that radical Islamic clerics will stir up their followers, but they themselves won’t get their hands dirty by personally getting involved in the upheaval and unrest. Last week there was a similar situation when a retired military veteran tried to get others to show up at the local court house to support a veteran and his vicious dog that were on trial. Interestingly, not one veteran showed up, not even the guy who tried to rally the troops. Jesus said that he would be betrayed by the chief priests and the teachers of the law and they would condemn him to death. Not wanting to soil their hands they turned Him over to, “…the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified.”  (Matt 21:19a NIV)

May 08, 2013

A Guy Thing

Who can resist popping plastic bubble wrap? Recently Bill took out a package of salad from the refrigerator and unable to resist the temptation that was right in front of him, he put the bag between his hands and popped the air-filled package. Exploding from the pressure the bag spewed salad greens throughout the refrigerator and all over the floor. It appears that being 65 years-old does not dim a man’s excitement for a mini-explosion. I’m thinking our church leadership programs should be offering re-fresher classes from the book of Proverbs, which states, “…for attaining wisdom and discipline; for understanding words of insight; for acquiring a disciplined and prudent life, doing what is right and just and fair; for giving prudence to the simple, knowledge and discretion to the young.” (Proverbs 1:2-4 NIV)

May 07, 2013


A few months ago I received an email from a City Council colleague saying that during our acquaintance he felt I was always lighting fires, criticizing and nitpicking. His remedy was that I should get off my high horse, because, “…none of us are perfect, including you!” Anytime a believer stands firm in their belief, tries to do what is right, and speaks the truth, he becomes an easy target for others. So often our taking the high road is viewed as being on a high horse. It seems to me that one common denominator of such attacks is the charge, ‘you think you’re so perfect’. One day, when we are in the presence of the Lord, we will be perfect. In the meantime, “It is God who arms me with strength and makes my way perfect.” (Psalm 18:32 NIV)

May 06, 2013

Hard Stuff

I cringe when I hear someone speak the truth of the WORD, followed by an apologetic caveat, “This is hard stuff. This is one of those teachings in the Bible that is just hard.” No doubt the sentiment is meant to convey empathy, but what many hear is, ‘I know you may struggle with what the Bible tells you to do, but just do the best that you can.’ I’m reminded of Jesus teaching in the synagogue in Capernaum when the topic was eating the flesh and drinking the blood of the Son of Man. “On hearing it, many of his disciples said, ‘This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?’” (John 6:60 NIV) Sadly, this was a turning-back moment for many of Jesus’ disciples. If the Scriptures were difficult to understand, accept and apply, Jesus would not have asked us to take his yoke and learn, “For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matt 11:30 NIV)

May 03, 2013

The Hand

Glaucoma has left my 60 year-old cousin blind in one eye. Unfortunately last week he had to have surgery on his good eye and there were complications. He is now in danger of losing his eyesight and he’s scared to death. I can imagine Paul and Elymas (the sorcerer) having similar emotions when they were blinded (Acts 9:9, 13:11). After being blinded Paul’s companions led him by the hand to Damascus, while Elymas groped about seeking someone to lead him by the hand. We know that physically and spiritually Jesus is the One who opens the eyes of the blind, but I’m not sure that we recognize that we too have a role to play amongst the blind. Those who are groping about seeking someone to lead them may be in need of our hand. The LORD gives sight to the blind, the LORD lifts up those who are bowed down, the LORD loves the righteous.” (Psalm 146:8 NIV)

May 02, 2013


Purporting 30 years in Christian ministry a man in the community publically renounced his faith in a newspaper article. My once-saved, always-saved friends concluded that he was never saved in the first place, while a mainstream liberal denomination member swung in the opposite direction by tipping her hat to the Christian-turned-humanist for, “…reminding us that our country was founded on religious freedom, freedom to practice any religion or no religion.”  Obviously the liberal is more enamored with freedom in religion than she is with freedom in Christ. Although the text is specifically referring to Judas Iscariot, I’m convinced it is applicable to anyone who accepts and then renounces the Lord.  Jesus said, “The one who has dipped his hand into the bowl with me will betray me. The Son of Man will go just as it is written about him. But woe to that man who betrays the Son of Man! It would be better for him if he had not been born.” (Matthew 26:23-24 NIV)

May 01, 2013

Dust Off

The Montrose Daily Press (4-26-13) published a guest commentary written by Ron Black on the secular and religious fabric of America. Mr. Black, an active Christian minister and evangelist for 30 years, renounced his faith saying, “As to your unspoken question, no, I did not lose my faith as a born-again Christian. I gave it up purposely. The motivation that drove me into ministry is the same that drove me out.” Interestingly, he claims to believe in God, but as a humanist. By his own admission Mr. Black has not wondered away, nor is he lost. It seems to me that with his declaration and rejection of Christ he has relieved believers of the obligation to pray for him. I now have a sense of how the disciples must have felt when they shook the dust off their feet as they left a home or a town that rejected their message. “If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, shake the dust off your feet when you leave that home or town. I tell you the truth, it will be more bearable for Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment than for that town.” (Matt 10:14-15 NIV)