December 30, 2016


My friend Betty, a 90-plus-year-old writer and author, recently sent me an email, “I don’t know how to add those cute little thingamajigs [emoji] so you’ll have to add your own.” I laughed at her comment until I took it a step further and realized that many of us are guilty of doing something similar with the Word of God. Today’s culture wants to add their own emoji to Scripture. "For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths” (2 Tim 4:3-4 NIV).

December 29, 2016

The Caretaker

We anticipate changes in career and life situations as not only bettering ourselves, but also giving us an element of control over our own destiny. God swore to the forefathers of the Israelites that they would possess a land flowing with milk and honey; however, there were caveats. Moses said, “The land you are entering to take over is not like the land of Egypt, from which you have come, where you planted your seed and irrigated it by foot as in a vegetable garden. But the land you are crossing the Jordan to take possession of is a land of mountains and valleys that drinks rain from heaven. It is a land the LORD your God cares for; the eyes of the LORD your God are continually on it from the beginning of the year to its end” (Deut 11:10-12 NIV). And then some of us seem surprised when we wind up in a land/career/situation where God is the Caretaker.

December 28, 2016

Producing Wealth

Some people dislike President-elect Trump because of his wealth and ego…and the fact that most of his cabinet picks are billionaires and millionaires doesn’t help. There are men who claim to be self-made; however, Moses tells us otherwise, “You may say to yourself, “My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.” But remember the LORD your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to your forefathers, as it is today” (Deut 8:17:18 NIV).

December 27, 2016

Merry Christmas

I took a telephone survey and at the end of the conversation the man said, “Thank you and Happy Holidays.” I responded, “Merry Christmas” and after a pause he confided apologetically, “I’m not allowed to say that.” Obviously the man had to bow to the requirements of his employer, but rather than letting the conversation simply end with my Christmas wish to him, he found a way around political correctness. There are times we believers feel enslaved by the culture, but Paul reminds us, “You were bought at a price; do not become slaves of men. Brothers, each man, as responsible to God, should remain in the situation God called him to” (1 Cor 7:23 NIV).

December 26, 2016

His Kingdom Will Never End

Mary was greatly troubled by the angel’s words, “But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end” (Luke 1:30-33 NIV).

December 23, 2016

Welcomed By the Church

In some churches the pastor seems to rush around the auditorium trying to speak to and shake hands with one or two members of the congregation prior to the service. I recently visited a church where ushers, leadership and the pastor were all in the foyer welcoming members and visitors (170 in attendance). The pastor appeared so prepared for the service and with his sermon that he could put on a host-hat and welcome the entire flock into fellowship. I have to say I was impressed and I felt as though I was being welcomed by the whole church, not simply a door greeter handing me a bulletin. I suspect Paul and Barnabas had a similar reaction when they went to see apostles and the elders, “When they came to Jerusalem, they were welcomed by the church and the apostles and elders, to whom they reported everything God had done through them” (Acts 15:4 NIV).

December 22, 2016

Train Up a Child

During a recent church visit the pastor justified his church model of not having children’s church or youth groups and keeping the membership together generationally. “The culture segregates by age and so does the church. Nothing in God’s Word says to separate by age. People say children can’t sit through a service…of course they can!” This pastor puts great emphasis on God’s call for us to live intergenerational and places the responsibility for training children on parents. Bemoaning the fact that less than one-half of one-percent of Millennials (18-23 years old) have a biblical world view, he said, “It’s about the fact that the church quit training children. God did not call the world to raise children.” From personal experience it was the church, not my parents, who was equipped to train and give me instruction in the Lord. “Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it” (Proverbs 22:6 NIV).

December 21, 2016

A Letter From Christ

One pastor spoke about the Human Library Project, a human book site where you get people on loan. The person making the appointment sits down for 30-minutes and visits with people of different faiths, singles, the unemployed, the homeless, the blind, etc. The gist of his message, “What if people checked us out? What if people borrowed us for 30-minutes? Would we be hard to read, or would we be an open book? What would they learn?” The sermon was thought provoking; however, I suspect some folks might think it easier and less messy to participate in the Human Library Project than to participate in the Good Samaritan Project. Paul said, “You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everybody. You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts” (2 Cor 3:2-3 NIV).

December 20, 2016

Generosity in Sharing

For service industry personnel my normal practice is to tip for good service. On a few occasions when my morning newspaper was not delivered I had to call for redelivery. Occasionally I find the paper on the sidewalk or in the gutter, rather than in the driveway. I ignore the solicitation that comes through the newspaper asking me if I want to add a carrier tip on my remittance, as well as the preprinted card reminding me to think of my carrier during the holiday season. This year however, my carrier sent me a personally addressed Christmas card, so I mailed a monetary gift…and my newspaper began inching it’s way closer to the door.  On Saturday morning I woke up to about six inches of snow on the ground and the morning paper on the door threshold. I’ll be honest, it tweaks me to have to pay for good service. However, Paul tells me there is another way to look at the situation, “This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of God’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God. Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, men will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else. And in their prayers for you their hearts will go out to you, because of the surpassing grace God has given you” (2 Cor 9:12-14 NIV).

December 19, 2016

The Best of the Best

Most of us understand the Old Testament concept of firstfruits, a token of the harvest that belonged to God. God’s portion was not what was left over after the harvesters went through the field, but rather the first of the harvest. In my mind I’ve always imagined the firstfruits to be the cream of the crop. It never occurred to me that even firstfruits can be graded and categorized. The Lord told Moses, “Bring the best of the firstfruits of your soil to the house of the LORD your God” (Ex 34:26a NIV).

December 16, 2016

Fiscally Content

Fast food jobs in Chicago and New York are no longer entry level positions for young people getting into the workforce. Workers insist on being paid what they deem a living wage regardless of the fact that their education, productivity and skill level remains the same. As John the Baptist prepared the way for Jesus, “Tax collectors also came to be baptized. “Teacher,” they asked, “what should we do?” “Don’t collect any more than you are required to,” he told them. Then some soldiers asked him, “And what should we do?” He replied, “Don’t extort money and don’t accuse people falsely—be content with your pay” (Luke 3:12-14 NIV).

December 15, 2016

Wrong Motives

When it comes to budgeting big expenditures many government agencies anticipate coming in under budget. In some cases, they tell the public how they intend to spend any surplus funds; in other cases, the funds are not publicly accounted for unless someone asks. During a recent city meeting all the bids for replacing equipment came in under budget and it was stated that the unused funds go back into the Fleet Fund. The city manager then said, “That’s how we got money for the golf course [needs/equipment]. We loaned money from the Fleet Fund to the golf course.” Coming in under budget so you can divert surplus funds to pet projects is very disconcerting. Spiritually speaking James saw something similar being played out in the church, “What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You want something but don’t get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. 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 4:1-3 NIV).

December 14, 2016

Train Up a Child

During a recent church visit the pastor justified his church model of not having children’s church or youth groups and keeping the membership together generationally. “The culture segregates by age and so does the church. Nothing in God’s Word says to separate by age. People say children can’t sit through a service…of course they can!” This pastor puts great emphasis on God’s call for us to live intergenerational and places the responsibility for training children on parents. Bemoaning the fact that less than one-half of one-percent of Millennials (18-23 years old) have a biblical world view, he said, “It’s about the fact that the church quit training children. God did not call the world to raise children.” From personal experience it was the church, not my parents, who was equipped to train and give me instruction in the Lord. “Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it” (Proverbs 22:6 NIV).

Train Up a Child

During a recent church visit the pastor justified his church model of not having children’s church or youth groups and keeping the membership together generationally. “The culture segregates by age and so does the church. Nothing in God’s Word says to separate by age. People say children can’t sit through a service…of course they can!” This pastor puts great emphasis on God’s call for us to live intergenerational and places the responsibility for training children on parents. Then, bemoaning the fact that less than one-half of one-percent of Millennials (18-23 years old) have a biblical world view, he said, “It’s about the fact that the church quit training children. God did not call the world to raise children.” From personal experience it was the church, not my parents, who was equipped to train and give me instruction in the Lord. “Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it” (Proverbs 22:6 NIV).

Starting Over

We’ve all seen and read the cardboard signs held by people panhandling and looking for a handout. All the signs, whether they invoke a laugh or a tear, are intended to hit a compassion nerve. Recently a woman who appeared to be in her late 30’s stood on a grassy street corner holding a cardboard sign that read, “Christian Family Starting Over.” Jesus said he would never leave us as orphans, so I’m not sure how the Lord reacts to seeing his name on a cardboard sign that implies the needs of this Christian family have not been met. These folks take the name Christian and I have to wonder what happened to their faith based support network — their biological, extended and church family. On practicing religion James said, “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world” (James 1:27 NIV).

December 13, 2016

Fake News

Hillary Clinton suggested that fake news not only thwarted her campaign, but has “real world consequences.” Although Christians haven’t labeled it as such, we’ve been dealing with fake news for 2000 years. When the chief priests learned that the body of Jesus was missing they paid the soldiers a large sum of money to fabricate a story. They told the soldiers, “You are to say, ‘His disciples came during the night and stole him away while we were asleep.’ If this report gets to the governor, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble.” So the soldiers took the money and did as they were instructed. And this story has been widely circulated among the Jews to this very day” (Matt 28:13-15 NIV).

December 12, 2016

On Guard

On December 6, 2016 I checked the online obituary listings at one of the local mortuaries and found a man listed as dying on December 7, 2016, the following day. Another woman’s death was listed as December 21, 2016...two weeks from now. No doubt the erroneous listings are disconcerting for the families. However, it gave me pause to think about seeing my own name and expiration date listed as tomorrow, or two weeks from now. Jesus said, “No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Be on guard! Be alert! You do not know when that time will come” (Mark 13:32-33 NIV).

December 09, 2016

Clanging Cymbal

During my church visits there have been a couple of instances where the worship service has turned into an opportunity for the leadership to air their differences, or conduct business. As a visitor I sense the undertow, but I can’t with any amount of certainty wrap my head around a sermon laden with innuendo. Paul very pointedly labels those who speak with words and phrases that are not understood by others, “If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal” (1Cor 13:1 NIV).

December 08, 2016

Slow to Speak

Today’s young service employees seem to think if they talk fast and move you along quickly it somehow equates to efficiency. I recently purchased two T-shirts and the clerk gave me the spiel about the money I could save by getting a store credit card and then she quickly shifted to asking me if I wanted to donate to the stores designated charity…no and no. I pulled cash from my wallet and she gave me yet another option that the store would pay the $5.00 donation to the charity for me and I could still save some on my purchase. With my head spinning she proceeded to “help” me with my cash by telling me which bills would make the transaction (in her mind) easier to deal with.  The clerk and I could both benefit from James, “My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires” (James 1:19-20 NIV).

December 07, 2016

Living and Active

Most of us understand the difference between a Nativity and a Live Nativity, where actors and animals bring the Christmas story to life. In our local church directory one church touts having a “Live Praise Band,” I’m now trying to conjure up in my head the image of a dead praise band. There are some who mistakenly view the Word of God as dead literature; however, the writer of Hebrews reminds us, “For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double–edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart” (Heb 4:12 NIV).

December 06, 2016

Morning Joe

I was greeted by coffee wafting through the front door of a large church. The beverage menu was displayed behind the coffee bar and the servers were ready to take my order. In the foyer people sat around small tables and leaned against the wall as they shared their morning cup of java. This could have been any coffeehouse in America and there was no hint that I had just walked into a place of worship. At the beginning of the church service the membership director announced visitors would receive a voucher for a free cup of coffee if they filled out a visitor card and dropped it in the offering plate. One can argue that selling coffee in the church foyer, or offering a voucher during announcements is no big deal. I’m not so sure that Jesus would buy that argument. “Jesus entered the temple area and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves. “It is written,” he said to them, “‘My house will be called a house of prayer,’ but you are making it a ‘den of robbers’” (Matt 21:12-13 NIV).

December 05, 2016

Children of the Light

I attended a contemporary worship service which, rather than being held in the sanctuary, was held in the youth center. Dark curtains covered the windows, the black backdrop for the stage held unreadable florescent chalk drawings and words, and the black ceiling dulled any illumination in the room. The lighting was so dim that I could hardly take notes, much less read the 10-point font in my Bible. More than a third of the audience was made up of seniors and retirees, who obviously did not find the nightclub atmosphere as disconcerting as I did. As children of the light it’s curious that some people of faith seek an environment of darkness. “For with you is the fountain of life; in your light we see light” (Psalm 36:9 NIV).

December 02, 2016

He Who Has an Ear

More and more churches are using video clips before, during and after church for announcements, testimonies and, as I recently discovered…confessions. There are even clips of countdown clocks to tell the audience services will start in minutes and seconds —  5, 4, 3, 2, 1. Gone are the days of people visiting with one another before and after worship service begins. During a recent church visit a video clip was played at the first of the service and when the pastor took the platform he said, “I’m going to ask that we replay that video. Some people were coming in late and didn’t get to see it.” Hummm…maybe there is a reason they are coming in late. John said, “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches” (Rev 3:6 NIV).

December 01, 2016


It’s not unusual for the person giving announcements, meditations or leading the music to go off script. During their time on the platform they might share something the Spirit has laid on their heart, try to warm up the audience by getting them engaged, or even try their hand at being a standup comedian to get a laugh. Mega churches have always controlled worship structure, but I’m now seeing the trend in smaller churches to reign in the extemporaneous comments and control the service. Rather than train people in the proper way to give announcements and meditations, preachers and staff are taking over those segments of worship. Personally I don’t like rabbit trails and I understand the time restraints of the worship service; however, leaders seem to forget they are not the only ones qualified to speak in the assembly of believers. Paul addressed being spiritually equipped, “Now about virgins: I have no command from the Lord, but I give a judgment as one who by the Lord’s mercy is trustworthy… and I think that I too have the Spirit of God” (1 Cor 7:25; 7:40b NIV). 

November 30, 2016

Rather Than Hinder the Gospel

I continue to contemplate the church leaders and paid ministry staff who publicly confessed to being cold, slothful and not diligent in the study of God’s Word, or hearing the Word of God. “We have not honored the Spirit of God; we’ve had little of the mind of Christ; and we courted honor from men, not Christ.” The confession indicates the error of their ways is not new and to some extent, it has been tolerated or ignored by the congregation. Paul wrote that those who preach the gospel should receive their living from the gospel. It occurs to me that those of us who are mature in the faith have a right to hold preachers, leaders and ministerial staff accountable; however, as Paul said, “But we did not use this right. On the contrary, we put up with anything rather than hinder the gospel of Christ” (1 Cor 9:12b NIV).

November 29, 2016

Confess Your Sins

Incorporated in the worship service of a local congregation was a video montage of the large staff confessing their sins as church leaders. “We are here to say we have failed and we have been wrong and we ask your forgiveness.” They confessed being cold, slothful and not diligent in the study of God’s Word, or hearing the Word of God. “We have not honored the Spirit of God; we’ve had little of the mind of Christ; and we courted honor from men, not Christ.” I’ve never seen nor heard of such a confession and I’m trying to wrap my head around not only the confession, but the manner of presentation. James said, “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective” (James 5:16 NIV).

November 28, 2016


We accepted an email potluck dinner invitation and since I seldom go anywhere without being prepared I mentally refreshed my mind on who I thought would attend so I could get the right husband’s name with the right wife. We were the first to arrive and as the 30 or so other invitees began to filter into the house there were no recognizable faces to put with my names. I suspect we somehow wound up the wrong email invitation list. All the attendees, even though relatively new to the community, had established relationships and came from a different economic and recreational status than mine…golf and skiing are not part of my vocabulary. Although not totally applicable to the situation, I kept thinking of Jesus’ parable of the Wedding Banquet, “But when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing wedding clothes. ‘Friend,’ he asked, ‘how did you get in here without wedding clothes?’ The man was speechless. “Then the king told the attendants, ‘Tie him hand and foot, and throw him outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ “For many are invited, but few are chosen” (Matt 22:11-14 NIV).

November 25, 2016

The Eyes Have It

The Apostle Paul wrote about the spiritual gifts in the body of Christ, “The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” (1 Cor 12:21 NIV). In today’s Christian environment we marginalize one another’s gifts. Unfortunately, rather than saying I don’t need you we say, “I may be a hand, but I can see better than the eye.” 

November 24, 2016

Giving Thanks

The writer of Hebrews reminds me that Thanksgiving should not to be limited to earthly abundance and blessings, “Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our “God is a consuming fire” (Heb 12:28 NIV).

November 23, 2016

Keep Watch

A few nights ago after 9 p.m. someone rang the door bell and pounded on the front door simultaneously. The pounding stopped as abruptly as it started so there was no sense of an accident or an emergency, but rather a possible threat, or a prank. While I headed for the front door, Bill headed for the handgun. I’ll have to admit it wasn’t the smartest move on my part to open the door without knowing who or what was out there…but hey, Bill had the handgun equipped with a laser. There was no one at the door, but as a precaution we walked the perimeter of the property a few times, double-checked all the locked doors and left the outside front light on for the rest of the night. Even days later my sense of alertness is still heightened and it crosses my mind that on a spiritual level I should have this same type of alertness. Jesus, “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him” (Matt 24:42-44 NIV).

November 22, 2016

Church Cleaning

Prior to the start of the worship service announcements scrolled through on the video screens in the front of the auditorium. One scheduled event had the caption “Cleaning the Church” and I couldn’t help but laugh to myself when the image of Jesus arriving at the temple in Jerusalem on cleaning day flashed through my mind. “On reaching Jerusalem, Jesus entered the temple area and began driving out those who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves, and would not allow anyone to carry merchandise through the temple courts. And as he taught them, he said, “Is it not written: “‘My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations’? But you have made it ‘a den of robbers.’” (Mark 11:15-17 NIV).

November 21, 2016

It’s Not My Job

I’m writing another church series and at the church I visited yesterday the usher team was on duty, helpful and all the doors were covered. However, when it came to the time of congregational greeting people seemed to congregate in small groups of friends and they overlooked the people on the peripheral. Three people greeted me; however, it was a matter of, “Hello, nice to see you” let’s shake hands and move on. No one from the congregation engaged me in conversation, asked my name, or showed interest in me as a person sitting on the back pew. I find this to be a good reminder that is it not the sole responsibility of an usher to be the greeter. Jesus said, “And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matt 5:47 NIV).

November 18, 2016

Keeping Watch

My friend passed away and last night I attended the rosary and visitation. With the exception of the Lord’s Prayer the first 45 minutes of the service was almost entirely in Spanish. Since I couldn’t understand the language, the image of someone in the church talking in tongues with no one to interpret crossed my mind. More than once I thought about leaving the service because I couldn’t connect with the ritual commentary. However, the Lord’s words to Peter caused me to re-evaluate my need to stay, “Could you men not keep watch with me for one hour” (Matt 26:40b NIV).

November 17, 2016


Many of us fall into the trap of thinking more highly of ourselves than we should. Even in social situations Jesus reminded us to not seek a seat of honor because someone more distinguished might have been invited and we could be asked to give up our seat. Jesus said, “For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted” (Luke 14:11 NIV). I have to laugh when I hear Jesus describe our worth, “Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows” (Luke 12:7b).

November 16, 2016


Many of us have a special article of clothing hanging in our closet that we will never wear again —a wedding dress, a military uniform, a tux…maybe something in a size eight when we now wear a size 14. I’m wondering about the soldiers who crucified Jesus and cast lots for his clothes. The Lord’s undergarment was seamless, woven in one piece from top to bottom and coveted by the soldiers, “Let’s not tear it,” they said to one another. “Let’s decide by lot who will get it” (John 19:2324a NIV). I can’t imagine the winner of the lot actually wearing a garment that was surrounded with so much significance…and yet I wonder if this crown jewel of garments languished in a closet.

November 15, 2016


Generally speaking we don’t punish people for things they don’t know; however, once they know right from wrong and choose to disobey they are subject to punishment. We spank a toddler when they know what they are doing is wrong and we ground a teenager for being willfully disobedient. Paul reminds believers that we too are held to an expected standard of obedience, “And we will be ready to punish every act of disobedience, once your obedience is complete” (2 Cor 10:6 NIV).

November 14, 2016

During Those Days

Many people of faith will be distraught by the passage of Colorado Proposition 106 which makes assisted death legal under some circumstance. We continue to watch as man sets himself up to be God and control life and death. The book of Revelation paints a different picture of assisted death. The fifth angel sounded his trumpet, the Abyss opened and locust came down on the earth. “They were told not to harm the grass of the earth or any plant or tree, but only those people who did not have the seal of God on their foreheads. They were not given power to kill them, but only to torture them for five months. And the agony they suffered was like that of the sting of a scorpion when it strikes a man. During those days men will seek death, but will not find it; they will long to die, but death will elude them” (Rev 9:4-6 NIV).

November 11, 2016


Following the election Sean Hannity was interviewed by telephone on Fox News. Hannity was asked what Trump needs to do in order to find a way to work with Congress. Hannity turned the question around and said, “I’d tell Congress that they need to find a way to work with Trump.” The Apostle Paul reminds us that there is a worldly point of view on reconciliation; however, people of faith are to see things differently. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Cor 5:17-19 NIV).

November 10, 2016

Perceived Global Doom

It’s not just Democrats, pundits, and the media who are in shock by the 2016 election results, but foreign countries are weighing in with global doom. Let me be clear, I’m not inferring that America is the Babylon referred to in Revelation. However, I find the current rhetoric coming from the four corners of the earth to have familiar ring. An angel with a mighty voice shouted, “Fallen! Fallen is Babylon the Great! She has become a home for demons and a haunt for every evil spirit, a haunt for every unclean and detestable bird. For all the nations have drunk the maddening wine of her adulteries. The kings of the earth committed adultery with her, and the merchants of the earth grew rich from her excessive luxuries” (Rev 18:1-3 NIV).

November 09, 2016

Public Service Announcements (PSA)

Prior to the election our pastor made a public service announcement (PSA) and encouraged everyone, regardless of their affiliation, to go to the polls and vote. Even though he prefaced his comments with, “I know I’m probably preaching to the choir…” an older couple appeared to take offence, got up and left the building. At first blush I couldn’t see the problem; however, I then reflected on a recent situation during a city council meeting where a councilman seated at the dais used his position to offer a PSA and invite citizens to a local pub for a fundraising event. There are times when, whether as a citizen or a worshipper, we hear a message that has no value to us. Even the Gospel, as powerful as it is, needs to be presented with the right combination of elements. The writer of Hebrews said, “For we also have had the gospel preached to us, just as they did; but the message they heard was of no value to them, because those who heard did not combine it with faith” (Heb 4:2 NIV).

November 08, 2016

The Quality of Each Man’s Work

By all reports Obama, the Clintons and even the Bush family, are worried that a Trump administration will tear down all that they have built during their terms in office. These politicians are more concerned about what they perceive to be their legacy than they are about letting a future president build on the foundation of America. Paul warns believers about building on a foundation other than Christ, “For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man’s work. 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 3:11-15 NIV).

November 07, 2016

The Ground Game

If you listen to pundits they say Clinton will win because she has the better ground game – more TV advertising, more workers going door to door and more campaign offices open. In some respects, I see Trump’s ground game similar to that of Sampson. Single handedly Sampson took on the Philistines and said to them, “This time I have a right to get even with the Philistines; I will really harm them.” So he went out and caught three hundred foxes and tied them tail to tail in pairs. He then fastened a torch to every pair of tails, lit the torches and let the foxes loose in the standing grain of the Philistines. He burned up the shocks and standing grain, together with the vineyards and olive groves” (Judges 15:3-5 NIV).

November 04, 2016

Modern-Day Pharaoh

As the election winds down, whether I support Trump or Clinton as the leader of the free world is not the issue. I can find peace in Paul’s comments, “It does not, therefore, depend on man’s desire or effort, but on God’s mercy. For the Scripture says to Pharaoh: “I raised you up for this very purpose, that I might display my power in you and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth” (Ro 9:16-17 NIV).

November 03, 2016

Blame It On The Russians

The Democrats blame their email hack on the Russians. We get it. All of us know how to play the blame-game...bad parenting, no breaks in life, underprivileged. A favorite for those of us living on the religious landscape is, “the devil made me do it.” However, Paul tells us that on the spiritual plane the blame game is not a valid excuse, “No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it” (1 Cor 10 13 NIV).

November 02, 2016

Into the Light

Democratic Party Chairman Donna Brazile dodged the question of feeding debate questions to the Clinton camp and told TV Fox News interviewer Megyn Kelly, “As a Christian woman, I understand persecution…Your information is false. What you’re -- well, for suggestive e-mails were stolen. You’re interested and you’re like a thief that wants to bring into the night the things that.” It’s a mouthful to invoke the name of Christ, claim persecution and take Scripture out of context all in one breath. Apparently Ms. Brazile put metaphors, parables and end-times in her own political blender. Paul said, “But you, brothers, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief. You are all sons of the light and sons of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness” (1 Thess 5:4-5 NIV).

November 01, 2016

Calculating the Cost of Words

The release of more emails has the Clinton camp conferring, calculating and doing verbal gymnastics to keep from answering journalist’s questions. I’m reminded of Jesus speaking in the temple when the chief priests and elders of the people demanded to know who gave him his authority. Jesus was willing to respond if they would first give their opinion of whether John’s baptism came from heaven, or from men. “They discussed it among themselves and said, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will ask, ‘Then why didn’t you believe him?’ But if we say, ‘From men’—we are afraid of the people, for they all hold that John was a prophet.” So they answered Jesus, “We don’t know”” (Matt 21:25b-27a NIV).

October 31, 2016

Taking Thoughts Captive

I was taken aback to see my middle-aged cousin in church on Sunday and being flippant I said, “Whoa…I wonder if the roof is going to fall in!” I then sat through the worship service beating myself up for making a joke at his expense. After the service I apologized, but he wasn’t offended and we had a good laugh when he agreed with the sentiments. Paul said, “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). Unfortunately, sometimes our thoughts escape and go on the run before we even know we should hold them captive.

October 28, 2016

Fit as a Fiddle

As we age our physical ailments overtake us and they seem to become the topic of conversation. When we are younger the response to “How are you feeling?” is much different than when we are older. If someone asks how I’m feeling it never cross my mind to tell them how I’m feeling spiritually, but if I were to evaluate my spiritual health I’d say I’m fit, trim and ready to run a marathon with energy to spare. Maybe by borrowing a quote from Jesus I can cover both the physical and spiritual systems checkups and say, “…The spirit is willing, but the body is weak” (Matt 26:41b).

October 27, 2016

He Came to Save

As Jesus hung on the cross bystanders mistakenly thought he was calling for Elijah. After giving Jesus a sponge filled with wine vinegar those standing around said, “Now leave him alone. Let’s see if Elijah comes to save him” (Matt 27:49 NIV). In a similar sense believers can feel the pressure of the cross when non-believing bystanders disparage our faith and smirk, “Let’s see if Jesus comes to save them.”

October 26, 2016

I Am Able

Recently I’ve encountered two women of faith who are under the influence of drugs — one uses prescription pain meds and the other methamphetamines. I’ve dealt with addicted family members before so let me confess I’m somewhat jaded. I tend to see the drug addicted person as a lost cause with no way to cut through the fog of their dependency. With swiftness the Spirit reminded me of Jesus speaking to two blind men, “Do you believe that I am able to do this?” (Matt 9:28 NIV).

October 25, 2016


Rather than using cash, many people, organizations and entities use in-kind donations to transfer goods, services and gifts. Occasionally believers will try to bring this model into the church. For instance, we might put a monetary value on our volunteer work as a youth sponsor and equate volunteerism with a tithe, or the way God has increased our income. Paul said, “Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously” (2 Cor 9:6 NIV).

October 24, 2016

All Men Will Know

Following the communion meditation, the speaker led a congregational prayer thanking the Lord for His sacrifice on the cross. Then, as though listening to his own words he added, “…but our words are so inadequate.” Certainly our words are inadequate, but our actions speak louder than words. Jesus said, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:34-35 NIV).

October 21, 2016

By The Authority Vested in Me

Often we believers fail to speak up for fear of being PC (politicly correct). We forget that even Jesus was called into account by the chief priests and elders of the people, “By what authority are you doing these things?” they asked. “And who gave you this authority” (Matt 21:23b NIV)? Paul reminds us, that we too have authority in Christ Jesus, “These, then, are the things you should teach. Encourage and rebuke with all authority. Do not let anyone despise you” (Titus 2:15 NIV).

October 20, 2016

Casting Stones

As it relates to what comes out of his mouth, Donald Trump is unfiltered. However, for the liberal media and politicians to step forward as though they are the moral compass and conscience of America is startling. Similar to the woman caught in adultery, the hypocritical media is setting a trap for people of faith. Jesus reminds us, “If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” (John 8:7b NIV).

October 19, 2016


Many of us have known a co-worker or a supervisor who doesn’t appear to be worth their salary. When you’ve been in the church environment for years you can see something similar in pastors, youth ministers and paid ministry leaders. Paul said, “The elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honor, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching. For the Scripture says, “Do not muzzle the ox while it is treading out the grain,” and “The worker deserves his wages” (1 Tim 5:17-18 NIV). None of us want to muzzle the ox, but it is incumbent upon us to make sure that he is actually treading out grain.

October 18, 2016

Equipped for Service

Some weeks ago a retired couple moved to our town and when they learned I’d visited all the churches in our area they wanted some recommendations. Similar to directing someone to a restaurant I found out what they were looking for and then rattled off a menu of churches. Last Sunday they re-visited my church and told me they had attended six churches and while comparing our experiences the man said, “We’re trying to find a place where we can serve.” My first reaction was one of human nature…match skill sets with needs. However, Peter puts the believer’s service into a spiritual perspective, “Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God. If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen” (1 Peter 4:10-11 NIV).

October 17, 2016

Great Fear

Normally when the church loses a prominent contributor we react with grief…grief for the loss of the person and also for the loss to the church. We mentally calculate such a death in terms of the person’s service, financial contributions, personality and spiritual knowledge. In the early church Dorcas, who was always doing good and helping the poor, died. To the joy of believers and the widows Peter then raised her from the dead and restored her to the church. (Acts 9:36-43). Ananias and Sapphira, in spite of the fact that they exaggerated the amount of their donation to the church, were still big financial contributors to the work of the Apostles. However, because they lied to the Holy Spirit, each fell down and died when confronted by Peter. The church did not grieve in the loss of this husband and wife, but rather, “Great fear seized the whole church and all who heard about these events” (Acts 5:11 NIV).

October 14, 2016

If It Looks Like a Duck

In our church we have a 55-gallon trash can that is used as a drop-off container for non-perishable food items donated to the community pantry. A sign on the can reads, “Sharing Ministries – This is not a trash can.” I chuckle because no one reads the sign and people simply see a large trash can that contains plastic grocery sacks, paper cartons and cans, so they toss in their trash. A few people approach Christianity in the same fashion. While they want to be seen as a new creation in Christ, their life style continues to resemble their old-self. Paul said, “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 13, 2016

According to His Ability

In the Parable of the Talents a man who was going on a journey entrusted his servants with money, each according to his ability. Two of the servants put their money to work and made more; however, the third servant buried his talent and then on the master’s return he simply gave it back. The master deemed the servant wicked, lazy and worthless because at the very least the money should have been put on deposit with bankers and gained some interest.  We may look at fellow believers and wonder why they seemingly have so much more than we do — talents, gifts, wealth. We forget that our ability enters into the equation of how much we are given. Through the parable Jesus said, “To one he gave five talents of money, to another two talents, and to another one talent, each according to his ability” (Matt 25:15a NIV).

October 12, 2016

Streams of Living Water

When I accepted Jesus and was baptized I receive the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit. I now have the perception that the Spirit is somewhat confined in my body, but ministering to me and through me. It’s not really registered with me that the Spirit has such a free-flowing character; one that is not based on my decision to measure and pour out the Spirit. On the last day of the Feast of Tabernacles Jesus stood up and spoke in the temple courts and said, “Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.” By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified” (John 7:38-39 NIV).

October 11, 2016

Stop Sinning

Jesus often gave a postscript after he healed someone — go wash in the pool, pick up your mat, go show yourself to the priest, see that you don’t tell anyone. Jesus healed a man who had been an invalid for 38 years and my human nature is wondering, exactly how much sinning can a man who has been an invalid for 38 years do? Because of his limitations he probably wasn’t involved with prostitutes, nor was he a thief, or a murderer. I suppose that while laying around the pool at Bethesda he could have been trash-talking, telling dirty jokes, or reading pornography. The man did not know who healed him, but Jesus had yet one more postscript to add to the healing, “Later Jesus found him at the temple and said to him, “See, you are well again. Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you” (John 5:14 NIV).

October 10, 2016

The Obvious Place

If I lose track of someone I usually have a general idea where to find them…in the tool section of a store, playing a video game at the mall, or in the fiction aisle of a book store. I can understand how Mary and Joseph lost track of 12-year-old Jesus on their return trip from the annual trek to Jerusalem for the Feast of the Passover. However, I find it surprising that once they got back to Jerusalem it took them three days to find him. Even in his youth Jesus was filled with wisdom and God’s grace was on him. When his parents finally located the young Jesus in the temple and confronted him he asked, “Why were you searching for me?” he asked. “Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house” (Luke 2:49 NIV)?

October 07, 2016

Re-Claiming the Region

Jesus healed two demon possessed men and sent the demons into a herd of pigs. When the pigs rushed into a lake and died the incident was reported to the town, “Then the whole town went out to meet Jesus. And when they saw him, they pleaded with him to leave their region” (Matt 8:34 NIV). I find it very telling that, in spite of freeing the two demon possessed men, no one in the town asked Jesus to stay. In America today there are some groups of people acting in a similar fashion. In effect the environmentalist, the new ager, and the liberal media have all asked Jesus to leave what they perceive to be their region. People of faith can and should reclaim these regions for the Lord. 

October 06, 2016

The Things of Men

When you feel like you’re starving to death it takes very little to turn something into a temptation. As I continue with my diet friends and loved ones will unconsciously offer me such delicacies as the day-old donuts at church, or a sample of the grandkids stash of sugar bombs in the pantry. I know it sounds harsh, but I’m strongly considering using a quote from the Lord’s playbook, “Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men”” (Matt 16:23 NIV).

October 05, 2016

If You Are Willing

I know Jesus has the power to heal all sickness and disease, and he can do so at any time. However, Jesus doesn’t always heal every infirmity so I preface my prayers with, “Lord, if it’s your will…” A man with leprosy used a different approach when he came and knelt before Jesus and said, “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean. Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!” Immediately he was cured of his leprosy” (Matt 8:2-3 NIV). My sense is there is a difference between Jesus being willing to heal vs. His will that someone be healed. The Canaanite woman with the demon possessed daughter comes to mind. It doesn’t appear it was the Lord’s will to heal the child until He saw the mother’s great faith; then He was willing to grant the mother’s request. (Matt 15:21-28).

October 04, 2016

Feeding Yourself

I have family visiting later in the month and in planning the menu I’m going to make it as easy on myself as I can. Rather than trying to find out what they need, or would like to eat, I plan on having dishes I can prepare ahead of time, that will serve well in a buffet line, and that will store well if there are leftovers. Jesus told Peter, as well as all leaders in the church, that their responsibility is to “feed my sheep.” On occasions I’ve visited churches where the food being served to the flock is convenience food, not the spiritual food that is needed, “These men are blemishes at your love feasts, eating with you without the slightest qualm—shepherds who feed only themselves. They are clouds without rain, blown along by the wind; autumn trees, without fruit and uprooted—twice dead” (Jude 12 NIV).

October 03, 2016

Reading Aloud

As a writer I know when I read my work out loud I have a better chance of catching errors in grammar and punctuation. However, it is even more beneficial when I ask my daughter to proofread an article and she reads it back to me aloud and I hear the words from the reader’s perspective. Most worship leaders have set aside the public reading of Scripture, but the importance of reading Scripture aloud should not be underestimated. John said, “Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near” (Rev 1:3 NIV).

September 30, 2016


For a while I wore a step-monitor to make me aware of the level of my physical activity...or lack thereof. I compared exercise notes with a young health professional and she admitted to being obsessed with her wrist monitor and checked it constantly. She loves her monitor so much she won’t end her day until she has reached her goal of a certain number of steps. Paul warns us of such obsessions, “Since you died with Christ to the basic principles of this world, why, as though you still belonged to it, do you submit to its rules: “Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!”? These are all destined to perish with use, because they are based on human commands and teachings. Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self–imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence” (Col 2:20-23 NIV).

September 29, 2016

On That Day

Hunters and fishermen have trophies of their successes hanging on the walls, but more often than not the stories they tell are about the one that got away. We believers, as fishers of men, sometimes have a trophy experience when we are trying to make disciples, but it is only Jesus who can tell the story of the ones who got away. Jesus said, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers’” (Matt 7:21-23)!

September 28, 2016


I took part in the national prayer event for women, Cry Out 2016 simulcast. Thirty of us assembled at my church for the three-hour event and we prayed for the nation, the church, our families and for ourselves as individuals. In small pods of three we shared needs, desires and goals. One segment had us ordaining one another to what we perceived to be our mission. I admit to being a little uncomfortable ordaining someone when I knew so little about them, or their calling. However, my mind was put to rest by the Psalmist, “My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be” (Psalm 139:15-16 NIV.)

September 27, 2016

One on One

Paul wanted those who are strong in the faith to accept those who are weak without passing judgment and he specifically mentioned personal opinions about food and drink. In today’s church we encourage each other to express ideas and opinions about all manner of things with little or no regard to the strength or weakness of others. Those of us who are mature in the faith have so much knowledge we want to share with others and yet Paul said, “So whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the man who does not condemn himself by what he approves” (Ro 14:22 NIV). That’s one way to get mature believers to have a one on one with God.

September 26, 2016

Not to Worry

The executive director of a government agency took exception to the summary report I’d written for publication. Saying there were misstatements in my account the woman wrote a letter-to-the-editor with clarifications and corrections, which in essence calls into question my work as a reporter. Fortunately, there were about 20 other people in the room and the meeting was audio recorded. Rather than worrying about defending myself, I can let the record speaks for itself. Jesus said, “When you are brought before synagogues, rulers and authorities, do not worry about how you will defend yourselves or what you will say, for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that time what you should say” (Luke 12:11-12 NIV).

September 23, 2016

The Uncalled

The teachers of the law who were Pharisees took exception to Jesus eating with sinners. Jesus said to them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners” (Mark 2:17). As a tax collector Matthew knew he was a sinner and if he had any doubt the Pharisees reminded him of his status. The Pharisees on the other hand thought they were righteous. I’m trying to put myself in the mind of the Pharisee and hearing Jesus say to me, “I’m not calling you.” 

September 22, 2016

Be on Your Guard

I see a pattern in my community where certain individuals steer organizations and boards to do something other than their assigned mission. The library board wants to offer classes in leadership and Civics 101; the recreation district wants to teach the community how to be civil to one another; and the city wants to work on economic development and tourism rather than maintain streets. While these may all be worthy endeavors, they lead the organization astray. Even within the church there are some who would draw us away from our mission. Paul warned the elders at Ephesus, “Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them. So be on your guard” (Acts 20:30-31a NIV)!

September 21, 2016

Things Above

With the busyness of life our daily focus is often on the things of the world. Politics, government and physical ailments can consume our minds. It occurs to me that even Sunday mornings the sermons we hear and the Sunday School lessons we’re taught are more about earthly things than they are about things above. “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things” (Col 3:1-2 NIV).

September 20, 2016


Math equations are not my thing and if you add apocalyptic literature to math my eyes glaze over. I thought John was pretty straight forward when he said that number of the beast, man’s number, is 666. I get that. But what am I supposed to do when he says to calculate the number…add, subtract, multiply, divide? “This calls for wisdom. If anyone has insight, let him calculate the number of the beast, for it is man’s number. His number is 666” (Rev 13:18 NIV). Obviously not all of us have the wisdom and insight needed for biblical interpretation. 

September 19, 2016


Regardless of how carefully I put them up, when I get ready to go for a walk I have to untangle the earbuds I use with my cell phone. I’m now contemplating the disciples who fished all night and never caught anything. I suspect that each time they drew in their nets they had to untangle them before they cast them out again. Jesus said, “Come, follow me and I will make you fishers of men” (Matt 4:19 NIV). As believers we want to focus on the catch, but many of us spend a considerable amount of time untangling our nets.

September 16, 2016

King Over Us

Struggling with the lesser of two evils voters don’t seem to want Trump or Clinton as their President. I see something similar in the Parable of the Ten Minas. A man of noble birth went to a distant country and had himself appointed king, “But his subjects hated him and sent a delegation after him to say, ‘We don’t want this man to be our king.’” However, he was made king and when he returned he demanded an accounting of how his money was invested. We don't yet know who will reside in the oval office, but Jesus’ parable tells me that established rulers, whether Clinton or Trump, have a long memory, “But those enemies of mine who did not want me to be king over them—bring them here and kill them in front of me.’” (Luke 19:14, 27 NIV).

September 15, 2016

Need vs. Want

A mill levy is the revenue stream for many taxing districts. During a recent board meeting of one such district a trustee said he would like to see revenues increased with a ballot issue, “…and then [we’ll] see what we want to spend it on.” As individuals many of us have a similar attitude…we want to win the lottery, or have God bless, and then we’ll decide what we want to spend it on. God is more focused on our needs than our wants. Jesus said, “…for your Father knows what you need before you ask him” (Matt 6:8b NIV).

September 14, 2016

Peaceful and Quiet Lives

This election cycle has brought many of us to our knees. We are worried about terrorists, the economy, the American Dream going down the tubes and the next President. We hear the mantra about making America great again, but even as people of faith many of us fail to grasp why a great nation should be important to us. Paul said, “I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone— for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness” (1 Tim 2:1-2 NIV).

September 13, 2016

You’re Looking Good

On my exercise walks I’ve become semi-acquainted with an older woman who sits on the back step of her apartment. We wave at one another when I pass by and on one encounter she gave me a verbal pat on the back by recognizing I’d lost weight. She went on to say that she too had been working on her weight and had lost 20 lbs. We now have this encouragement thing going on and she recently said, “You’re looking good!” I appreciate the support from a total stranger, but I’m now feeling guilty for not acknowledging Christian attributes in others when I see them. It would take so little effort to say to another believer, “You’re looking good!” Jesus said, “In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven” (Matt 5:16 NIV). 

September 12, 2016

Crucify Him

The Jews thought Jesus spoke blasphemy and declared, “He is worthy of death” (Matt 26:66 NIV). Even Paul said, “I too was convinced that I ought to do all that was possible to oppose the name of Jesus of Nazareth. And that is just what I did in Jerusalem. On the authority of the chief priests I put many of the saints in prison, and when they were put to death, I cast my vote against them” (Acts 26:9-10 NIV). Most of us can identify with wanting to an enemy put to death, but what I grapple with is the manner of death. I can’t image wanting even someone who I call an enemy to be tortured.  When Pilate asked the people what he should do with Jesus the people shouted, “Crucify him” (Matt 27:22 NIV).

September 09, 2016

Arranging the Parts

Through an educational program the city had an intern position in the planning department. However, it wasn’t long before the intern was snatched from the planning department and put into administration. While some might view the situation as climbing the ladder of opportunity, others view it as elevating a person to a position for which they are unqualified. We believers allow something similar to happen in the Body of Christ. In today’s church it is often the leadership who determines when and where people serve, which gives the appearance that leadership is responsible for arranging the body parts. Paul wrote, “But in fact God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be” (1 Cor 12:18 NIV).

September 08, 2016


In the Parable of the Wedding Banquet the king went in to see his guests and noticed one man was not wearing wedding clothes, “‘Friend,’ he asked, ‘how did you get in here without wedding clothes?’ The man was speechless. “Then the king told the attendants, ‘Tie him hand and foot, and throw him outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ “For many are invited, but few are chosen” (Matt 22:12-13 NIV). As I consider the problem of illegal immigration the same question comes to mind, Friend, how did you get in the US without the proper documentation? America has always invited immigrants to her shores, but similar to the biblical example, immigrants must follow proper protocol if they are to gain entrance.

September 07, 2016

I See You

Over the holiday weekend I attended my 50th class reunion and the photographer had a hard time getting everyone corralled. As requested, I positioned myself according to height, but then one of the former popular kids, with his beer in hand, bulled his way in front of me and others. The man was intent on being photographed with one particular classmate and had no regard for those behind him. The second photo was in another location and I stood next to a landscape barrier where no one could stand in front of me…or so I thought. One of the popular girls standing on a ledge below me called to her friends to come and stand on the landscape barrier itself. I did my best to shake the feeling of being back in high school and the sense of being overlooked, pushed aside and invisible. The story of Zacchaeus is a good reminder that Jesus always sees me. Jesus was passing through Jericho, “A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy. He wanted to see who Jesus was, but being a short man he could not, because of the crowd. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore–fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way. When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today” (Luke 19:2-5 NIV).

September 06, 2016


In a small obscure park in my neighborhood there is an area where the grass just doesn’t seem to grow. This spring the city parks department re-planted the 16 X 24 foot area and then staked an orange plastic cargo fence around it to keep people out. For months the parks guys have mowed the grass around the cordoned-off area, but I think they have forgotten the plot itself. The grass is still not growing, but the weeds on the inside are flourishing. As I go passed the area on my early morning walk the crickets sing their little hearts out…their sanctuary is green, has lots of shade and they are out of reach of the local predatory ducks. We too have a sanctuary in the One who sits on His throne, “A glorious throne, exalted from the beginning, is the place of our sanctuary” (Jer 17:12 NIV).

September 05, 2016

The Benefits of Labor

Jesus reminds us, his disciples, that even today we reap what was sown by others, “Thus the saying ‘One sows and another reaps’ is true. I sent you to reap what you have not worked for. Others have done the hard work, and you have reaped the benefits of their labor” (John 4:37-38 NIV).

September 02, 2016

Save Us!

One of the criminals who hung on the cross next to Jesus hurled insults at him, “Aren’t you the Christ? Save yourself and us” (Luke 23:39 NIV)! One would think the disciples would have a little more faith than the criminal. However, I hear the same words from the disciples when they were on a boat with Jesus. “Without warning, a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown” (Matt 8:24-25 NIV)! Whether nailed to a cross, or on a sinking ship, our faith can be measured.

September 01, 2016


I picked up a 1 ½ inch wood screw laying in the roadway, but it wasn’t just a screw…it was a flat tire in the making. Things, as well as people, aren’t always what they seem. Spies went to Jesus and tried to trap him with a question about paying taxes to Caesar, but they failed because he saw through their duplicity. Unfortunately, some believers also practice duplicity and they too are under the misguided impression that no one can see their motives. Proverbs says, “The integrity of the upright guides them, but the unfaithful are destroyed by their duplicity” (Proverbs 11:3 NIV).

August 31, 2016

Not Welcomed

Most believers are diligent to bring Jesus into their little corner of the world, but even with all our efforts some towns, communities and regions fail to welcome the Lord. It is then that some of us become afflicted with the James and John Syndrome. When a Samaritan village did not welcome Jesus these two disciples offered, “Lord, do you want us to call fire down from heaven to destroy them?” Then as now, “Jesus turned and rebuked them, and they went to another village” (Luke 9:54-56 NIV).

August 30, 2016

Modern Day Jonah

Next year my friends need to relocate to be closer to their adult children and their choices are North Dakota, where they have never lived; or Wisconsin, where they were from originally. Laurie said, “Wisconsin has become so liberal that it would be really hard for me to go back.” I understand her desire to live in a conservative community with people of like faith and I suspect most of us would feel the same way. However, I remember Jonah and his resistance to go to Nineveh and proclaim the message the Lord had for that community. The Lord said to Jonah, “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 4:11 NIV)?

August 29, 2016

What Sounds Good

My children are grown and have their own homes, so as an empty-nester I no longer have to have a plan for supper. Consequently, when it’s time to think about the evening meal Bill and I talk in terms of what sounds good — Mexican, Chinese, Italian. It’s as though we must tempt one another with different suggestions before we can make a decision. It’s a little embarrassing then when I hear Jesus say, “And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well” (Luke 12:29-30 NIV).

August 26, 2016

Lifting a Finger

My 13-year-old grandson fertilized our grass, but his grandad forgot to tell him to keep the spreader moving and dispense the chemicals evenly, so we now have a couple of burned places in the lawn. Sometimes mature believers, in our zeal to help others grow, do something similar to babes in Christ. It’s not a case of burning them with extra-biblical teachings, but many of us have forgotten what it was like to be that new creation in Christ and the need for having the Word spread evenly. Jesus said, “And you experts in the law, woe to you, because you load people down with burdens they can hardly carry, and you yourselves will not lift one finger to help them” (Luke 11:46 NIV).

August 25, 2016

Circulated to This Very Day

The articles I write for an online newspaper aren’t always appreciated. I report the facts of what I see and hear, but there are those who don’t want to hear that truth. They prefer I spin the situation to put them in a good light. In other words, they would rather have a press release than a news release. The situation is biblically familiar. The soldiers guarding the tomb of Jesus experienced the violent earthquake and the empty tomb and reported what happened to the chief priests. “When the chief priests had met with the elders and devised a plan, they gave the soldiers a large sum of money, telling them, “You are to say, ‘His disciples came during the night and stole him away while we were asleep.’ If this report gets to the governor, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble.” So the soldiers took the money and did as they were instructed. And this story has been widely circulated among the Jews to this very day” (Matt 28:12-15 NIV).

August 24, 2016

Still Vigorous

Mentally my friend Betty has always rejected aging. Recently after an all-day senior outing she emailed me and said, “Do you think my body is saying, “No more trips for you, Old Lady?” Actually, yesterday was the first day I admitted to feeling 92!” I laughed and told her I was shocked by her admission, but she quickly pulled me up short and wrote back, “I said YESTERDAY was the first day I admitted to feeling 92. Today is another day. Slower, perhaps, but still…” Betty and Caleb seem to have a similar zest for life. Caleb, who remembered the promise from the Lord 38 years earlier said, “Now then, just as the LORD promised, he has kept me alive for forty-five years since the time he said this to Moses, while Israel moved about in the desert. So here I am today, eighty-five years old! I am still as strong today as the day Moses sent me out; I’m just as vigorous to go out to battle now as I was then” (Joshua 14:10-11 NIV). 

August 23, 2016


When shopping for some new shirts and blouses I found very little that appealed to me. The racks of clothes were screaming with bright multicolored prints, paisleys, flowers and geometric shapes. Quite frankly I don’t see such attire in church, the grocery store, at community events, or at business meetings, so I can’t help but wonder, who buys this stuff anyway? The church is not immune from following trends. I may have overlooked something, but the last big trend I witnessed on the religious landscape was the Purpose Driven Church movement of the mid-1990’s. Paul describes what we are like when we attain the whole measure of the fullness of Christ, “Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ” (Eph 4:14-15 NIV).

August 22, 2016

Training Wheels

A little boy about five years-old lives next to the bike path and rides a small bike with training wheels. Sometimes as I passed by he’d show me how fast he could ride, do a wheelie, or race his brother down the sidewalk. Last week he charged up to me and dropping his bike on the grass, he crouched down beside it and showed me where his training wheels used to be attached, “Look here, look here! I took ‘em off. I don’t need ‘em anymore!” I can pinpoint the day I became a babe in Christ, but I’m now trying to recall the monumental moment when I took off my training wheels. The writer of Hebrews said, “Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil” (Heb 5:13-14 NIV).

August 19, 2016


My mom and sister, both now deceased, played the lottery. When Powerball reached a payoff of $50,000 mom would always buy two tickets with no power play — anything less was not worth her time. My sister, on the other hand, would buy two tickets with power play because she thought it increased her chance for a bigger payoff. While neither of them ever won anything, they always expected to win and dreamed of how they would spend their winnings. James reminds believers that motives play a big part in what we receive, “When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures” (James 4:3 NIV).

August 18, 2016

Know Your Enemy

Many Republicans are stressed because Donald Trump is off message and rather than going after Hillary Clinton and the economy, he is attacking the media. I not only see his actions as a brilliant strategy, I believe it will be a blessing to believers. The liberal media is Hillary’s true running mate, her left hand man if you will…and the real enemy to Christian conservatives. Win or lose, Donald Trump should be given credit for calling out the liberal media, labeling them for who they are and shining a light on their hypocrisy. The Psalmist wrote, “How long will the enemy mock you, O God? Will the foe revile your name forever” (Psalm 74:10 NIV).

August 17, 2016

The Nose Knows

An unkempt man with long grey hair riding a bicycle passed me on the bike path and for several feet his aged sweaty body odor hung in the air. The stench lingered so long that I began to wonder if the aroma of faith lingers with others after I pass by them. Paul tells us there is a fragrance associated with the knowledge of Christ. “For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. To the one we are the smell of death; to the other, the fragrance of life” (2 Cor 2:15-16a NIV).

August 16, 2016

Detecting Weakness

A woman new to the political landscape appears to be trying to make her mark by picking public fights with individuals and organizations. I was stymied by her motivation until someone pointed out her tendency to attack when she detects weakness. I’m now wondering if those same optics might apply to Christians in America. Are the attacks on our faith due in part to the fact that the world sees a weakness in believers? Paul said, “Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be men of courage; be strong. Do everything in love” (1 Cor 16:13-14 NIV).

August 15, 2016

Blinded by a Bargain

Bill wanted a bike mount to put on the garage wall that could have been purchased at Harbor Freight for $9.99. However, he found one on eBay for five cents and it was a bargain he just couldn’t pass up. Unfortunately, he won the bid and is now licking his wounds because with shipping and handling we now have a $20 bike mount. Believers are sometimes guilty of bargain shopping when it comes to the Gospel. Paul brings us up short, “I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned” (Gal 1:6-8 NIV)!

August 12, 2016

The One in Authority

Hillary Clinton claims that if she becomes President she will have broken the glass ceiling proving to young girls that anyone, even a woman, can become President. And then recently 50 heavy-weight Republicans signed a declaration against Donald Trump sending a message to boys and girls, “No, no…we don’t want you to think that just anyone can become President of the US. We deem the Donald Trumps of the world unqualified and unfit.” American believers often fall into the trap of thinking it is we who determine who has authority over us. Paul said, “Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God” (Ro 13:1 NIV).

August 11, 2016


Recently my brother-in-law came for family visit and while taking his mom out for a hamburger he pulled a California stop and rolled through a stop sign. When the police officer came up to the car he asked Jim if he knew why he was being stopped. Caught between two figures of authority Jim said, “Yes, my 92-year-old mother just told me!” The officer let him off with a warning. “Listen, my son, to your father’s instruction and do not forsake your mother’s teaching. They will be a garland to grace your head and a chain to adorn your neck” (Proverbs 1:8-9 NIV).

August 10, 2016


My local school district will put a referendum on the November ballot to increase the mill levy in order to build a new middle school. While I understand the need to replace the current 60-year-old facility, I’m disturbed by the fact that over the years the school administration has elected to showcase the deterioration rather than cover it up. No doubt the optics of the sinking floor separating from the foundation, the cracks in the walls, and the exposed temporary foam insulation plays to their advantage. However, most of us in this area have homes that are also settling and shifting and we do not leave our homes with such optic defects. To the contrary, we patch the cracks, caulk seams and cosmetically conceal damage cause by shifting soil. Similar to showcasing a building’s deterioration, the Jews of New Testament times showcased their fasting by putting ashes on their heads. Jesus said to his disciples, “When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show men they are fasting. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to men that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you” (Matt 6:16-18 NIV).

August 09, 2016


During my evening walk a woman strolled my direction wearing flip-flops. We spoke a greeting and went on our way; however, about half way through my walking loop we ran into each other again. She joked, “With all this walking you’d think we’d lose more weight.” I agreed, but as I continued on my walk I just couldn’t wrap my head around wearing flip-flops and exercising. I now have this image of the prescribed footwear that completes the Armor of God and some of us deciding to show up in house slippers, sequined slings and cowboy boots.  Paul said, “Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace” (Eph 6:14-15 NIV).

August 08, 2016

Things Above

For over a year I’ve been serious about diet and exercise and now that my weight loss is more noticeable it’s often the topic of conversations when I run into friends and family. Recently a friend lamented about her more mature body shape, “I’m the same weight I was in high school, but everything has shifted.” Many yearn for the youthful things of this world — physique, physical strength and hair color. However, Paul remind us, “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God” (Col 3:1-3 NIV).