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.