August 30, 2013


We learn of the exorbitant prices people pay for objects of art, precious gems or seats on a space shuttle, but we know that the value of anything is set by what someone is willing to pay.
During worship services I often hear meditations that reflect what a terrible and awful price Christ paid on the cross and I wonder if that thought is skewed. Certainly the death of Jesus was awful and terrible, but is the price that he paid for our salvation awful and terrible?
The price was set by God, which was the blood of Christ and that puts all of us in the category of priceless. “You were bought at a price; do not become slaves of men.” (1 Cor 7:23 NIV)

August 29, 2013


While reading a book on blogging I learned that ‘lurking’ describes a person who looks at and reads on-line discussions, but never participates in the discussion. Although lurking sounds diabolical, when used in this case it does not carry a negative connotation.

I was surprised that most web users are actually referred to as lurkers. The time they spend on the internet is simply in reading and looking at blogs.

I’m now wondering if lurking might also be a component of today’s church. We have a lot of folks who are perfectly satisfied with listening and learning, and they have no desire or need to get plugged into church programming. It may be that some of the church’s organized efforts to force-feed fellowship and generate discussion are misguided.

So the next time a Sunday School teacher tries to pull a comment out of you, you can just tell them you’re lurking.

August 28, 2013

Taking the Shot

On Fox News I watched an interview with Jack Taylor, the young man who scored 138 individual points in a basketball game.  Overwhelmingly breaking the previous record Jack acknowledged the Lord and then he said, “It was as though I couldn’t miss. Even when I was off balance a little, I still made the shot.” I can just imagine young David sharing similar thoughts after he toppled Goliath. I sometimes miss the fearlessness of youth…no doubt the Lord misses it in me too. “All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the LORD saves; for the battle is the LORD’s, and he will give all of you into our hands.” (1 Sam 17:47 NIV)

August 27, 2013

I Don’t Get It

Sometimes I just don’t always catch a joke when it’s written or in a cartoon. If I ask someone in the family to explain it they’ll laugh and say, ‘Mom, if I have to explain it, it’s not that funny’. I can imagine Jesus having a similar reaction when he used His parable about clean and unclean. The audience may have gotten the gist of the parable, but the lesson was lost on his disciples. After they left the crowd and went into the house the disciples asked about the parable and Jesus responded, “Are you so dull? Don’t you see that nothing that enters a man from the outside can make him ‘unclean’?” I can so relate to the disciples and their waiting until they were in the house to ask for clarification. I find it interesting that Jesus let them save face by not calling them dull in public. (Mark 7:18 NIV)

August 26, 2013

Health Screening

One of our church members mentioned that last week he and his wife visited a church in a neighboring small community. He was impressed with the size of gathering, the powerful sermon and the number of families in attendance. “There were a lot of young families. It was really neat; they’ve got something going for them.” It struck a chord with me that I’ve heard before – the inference that the health of a church can be measured by the young families in attendance. It’s as though we are confident the church will continue to live on as long as we can actually see another generation waiting in the wings. It’s great when there are multiple generations in a body of believers; however, neither silver hair nor youth are a good measure of the spiritual health of a church.

August 23, 2013

Better Living Through Chemistry

Once a week the retired old-boys at church get together for coffee to visit and roast one another. The resident patriarch preacher, who had been incapacitated because of a bad hip, showed up to the coffee looking energized. When asked how he was feeling he moved around freely demonstrating the wonders of what one Vicodin and a couple of Advil can do. With his physical body now in better alignment with his spiritual thinking he quipped, “You remember that mountain that used to be south of town?”

I doubt that’s what the Lord had in mind when he said, “I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” (Matt 17:20b NIV)

August 22, 2013

There’s a Time and a Place

A recent obituary told of a man’s love of baseball and his involvement in softball leagues. The time and place for the funeral service was listed and in lieu of flowers, “…a donation box will be available at the memorial service”, with the contributions going to local baseball leagues. I’m not suggesting that having a donation box is wrong, I just find it strange. It’s almost as though any assembly is now an opportunity for fundraising. I suppose it’s no different than the grocery store checker asking me if I’d like to donate to the store’s designated project by rounding-up my bill to an even number. Maybe that’s why I find it curious…there’s no difference.

August 21, 2013

How is My Driving?

While I was driving on a four lane highway a car came up behind me and just hung there on my bumper. He seemed oblivious to the fact that he was following too closely, but he could have passed me at anytime. Calling him a jerk co-mingled with thoughts of defensive driving. When he finally passed me I first noticed the traditional fish magnet on the trunk of car and then my eyes were drawn to his personalized license plate which read, ‘YESLORD’. At the moment the only thing that would have soothed my irritation was if he’d had a bumper sticker that read, HOW IS MY DRIVING? Call 1-800-Lord-God.

August 20, 2013


In our family we may start to speak our mind and either we will catch ourselves, or someone will jokingly remind us to, ‘take that thought captive’. Of course we have to give the Apostle Paul the credit for the illustration, which he used in defense of his ministry, “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) I’m not being boastful, but I do a fairly good job of taking thoughts captive and keeping them from escaping out of my mouth. I can put them in solitary confinement, but rehabilitating them and making them obedient to Christ sometimes seems to be beyond my ability.

August 19, 2013


Many years ago I took a CPR class, but I decided it was time for a refresher, so last Saturday I took a Red Cross class. A few things have changed, particularly that there is more emphasis on chest compression and less on rescue breathing. The rationale being that there is a certain amount of oxygen in the blood, so the most important thing is keeping the blood circulating and the vital organs alive until professional help arrives.

The class started me thinking about spiritual life and death and I had to laugh. Over the years some of my unrepentant family members have become indignant with my witnessing techniques and have accused me of trying to save them. I can now in good conscious tell them that I’m simply practicing Spiritual CPR.

August 16, 2013

Rewriting History

My local newspaper has a column that uses archived papers to remind people of the past. They rewrite newsworthy events that happened a year ago, 10 years ago, and even 35 years ago. The problem is the column is often used to wound people in the community and pit neighbor against neighbor.

All under the guise of journalistic license we are reminded of homicides, community conflict and local political upheaval.
Proverbs 26:17 seems applicable, “Like one who seizes a dog by the ears is a passer-by who meddles in a quarrel not his own.” (NIV)

August 15, 2013


The last few years some houses in my neighborhood have been unoccupied for an extended period of time. For the neighborhood boys the vacant driveways and alley have turned into a raceway and property fences are now balance beams. Last week I looked out the back window to see three middle school boys piled onto an old riding lawnmower. They were having a great time cutting didoes in one yard full of knee high weeds. At least they were having a good time until they were confronted by a mother…a mother other than their own. Jumping off the running lawnmower the boys scattered, but returned a few minutes later to turn off the mower. As the mother wagged her finger the oldest boy protested loudly, “But nobody cares, nobody lives here.”

Jesus tells of an evil spirit leaving a man, but later returning to find the human-house still unoccupied, yet swept clean and put in order (Matt 12:43-45). I’ve always pictured a well kept and well maintained, albeit spiritually empty house. Obviously an unoccupied house, regardless of whether it is tidy, is an open invitation for mischief.

August 14, 2013

Peace and Safety

During a discussion with friends the conversation turned to our nation’s deterioration. Because we were all believers our comments echoed past generations that said God will not put up with us much longer, things can’t get much worse than they are, and the Lord would be coming soon. One man said, “I think we [America] are worse today than in the days of Sodom and Gomorrah.” (Gen 18) I have to disagree with my friend. Unlike Sodom, I feel certain the Lord can find at least 10 righteous people sitting in my church on a Sunday morning. Paul reminds us that the signal for the Lord’s return is not the lack of righteous people. “Now, brothers, about times and dates we do not need to write to you, for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying, “Peace and safety,” destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape.” (1 Thess 5:1-3 NIV)

August 13, 2013


Sunday morning a transient came to church and during the welcome time the preacher offered him a doughnut and something to drink. The young man sat his backpack down, leaned his tattered cardboard sign against the wall, shook hands with a couple of people and said his name was Chris. As the worship service began Chris was noticeably edgy looking around the room and over his shoulder. When it was time for communion the preacher sat down next to our guest, put his hand on Chris’ shoulder and quietly explained the emblems that were being served. The young man nodded his head in understanding and joined the congregation in communion. It was only a few minutes into the sermon that Chris, acting like he was burning daylight, picked up his belongings, and made his exit. I have to smile when I think that Chris may not have heard a full sermon, but maybe my preacher’s explanation was the only sermon he needed to hear. “For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.” (1 Cor 11:26 NIV)

August 12, 2013

A Body at Rest

A current television commercial is bombarding the airwaves with Sir Isaac Newton’s laws of motion, ‘a body in motion tends to stay in motion and a body at rest tends to stay at rest’. Today’s church is programmed and focused on being in motion and purpose driven. Being at rest is not a part of our vocabulary; it is rarely mentioned from the pulpit and seldom seen in Bible studies. But Scripture reminds us, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” (Psalms 46:10 NIV)

August 09, 2013


I have a hard time with people who knowingly offend me, but fail to return to the scene of the situation and apologize, or make amends. For instance, when someone knowingly says hurtful words, but makes no attempt to say they are sorry.
Similarly, I find Adam and Eve’s disobedience in the garden very curious. I wonder if their punishment might have been less severe had they gone to God and asked forgiveness, or at the very least said they were sorry for their actions. I suppose they could have been contrite before God and their repentance was simply not recorded in the Genesis account. Maybe the penalty of being banished from the garden was actually less severe than what their actions really deserved.

August 08, 2013


For over 20 years a Sweet Corn Festival has been held in our community. Recently at a meeting I attended the discussion question for the day was, ‘Have you ever gone to the Festival, why or why not?’

Over the years this heavily advertized festival has had big name entertainers with attendance well over 20,000. However, the last few years attendance has been dropping drastically.

As my group discussed the topic I was taken back when the comments overwhelming revealed that most of those in the room had never attended, or they attended one year, but will not attend again. The reasons given for not participating in the festival were large crowds and loud music.

I’m wondering if the lack of interest in big events might also affect the religious landscape. Those labeled ‘seekers’ who once flocked to the mega-church with its large crowds and rock band persona, may now be seeking a smaller, cozier fellowship structure.

“Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.” (Acts 2:46-47 NIV)

August 07, 2013

Flaming Hair

My previous neighbors, a mother and daughter, marched to their own drum and didn’t care about what others thought. They loved to experiment with hair color and every week a new color would walk out their back door. Purple, pink, green - or a combination of all three, were the norm. The day they got into their car to move to another town the mom’s long locks were a mixture of flaming red and florescent pink, but surprisingly the teenager was a normal blond. Scripture tells us, “Gray hair is a crown of splendor; it is attained by a righteous life.” (Proverbs 16:31 NIV) These ladies will eventually have gray hair and I have to smile when I think about the color they will use to add accents to the splendor.

August 06, 2013

Eat Dessert First

Last weekend we went to a picnic and much to my discomfort we arrived just as 40 other guests were eating their dessert. I felt like a party crasher. The confusion was attributed to three email notifications, each with a different dinner start time, which was coupled with a last minute decision to start the meal early because people were filling up on chips and dip. 

The huge pasta salad I brought to share basically went untouched and there was little time to visit with anyone because while we were eating most of the others were packing up to go home.

I felt embarrassed, discouraged and frustrated. In hindsight I should have just shrugged off the main course and simply joined everyone else with their dessert.

I can picture people who are new to the faith having similar feelings when they walk into the ‘spiritual potluck’ at church and feel as though they are coming in late to the party.

I think I’ll start telling them it’s OK to eat dessert first and then go back for the main course.

August 05, 2013

Valuing Our Gifts

My friend is an excellent, in-depth adult Sunday School teacher, however, some of his pre-requisites for teaching are hindering his chances of doing a class. He wants at least 20 students, those who are committed to the study and faithful in attendance.

I feel certain his ultimate goal is to help mature the body of Christ, but I also think he wants to make sure that his preparation investment is worth his effort.

I understand where he is coming from because when I’ve been on the verge of some teaching situations, I too have had those same thoughts cross my mind.

Paul is quick to bring us back into spiritual balance, “For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you.” (Ro 12:3 NIV)

August 02, 2013

Wakeup Call

As a way to support my friend I often ask how her adult daughter is doing. One Sunday the mother sought me out to tell me her daughter was charged with domestic violence, but her reaction was not what I expected. Even though the situation was going to be an emotional and financial hardship on the mother, she was rejoicing. “It’s the wakeup call my daughter needed to get her act together. Now she’ll have to get to court ordered counseling and she is finally moving to get away from this toxic relationship.”

Don’t you just love watching Scripture play out right in front of us? “Not only so, but we  also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.” (Ro 5:3-5 NIV)

August 01, 2013

Taking to Task

I find it disconcerting that Pope Francis would take journalists to task for asking questions and reporting on gay priests. The Associated Press writes that Pope Francis makes the distinction that being gay is an issue of sin, but sexually abusing children is a crime. The implication being that journalist should be reporting on crimes, not on issues of sin.Thankfully the New Testament writers were not of the same cover-up mindset.

Rather than keeping issues of sin closeted, Paul wrote to the Corinthian church to expose their tolerance of an individual practicing sexual immorality. He took these believers to task for being proud, rather than being filled with grief. “When you are assembled in the name of our Lord Jesus and I am with you in spirit, and the power of our Lord Jesus is present, hand this man over to Satan, so that the sinful nature may be destroyed and his spirit saved on the day of the Lord.” (1 Cor 5:4-5 NIV)