Search This Blog

Thursday, September 30, 2010


I read about a guy who described an evening when he was browsing through an old newspaper. He found an article about men losing their memory cells faster than women. He read it aloud to his wife.

 "It must be true," she said. "This is the second time you've read that article to me."

In most cases, a loss of memory is not a good thing. Here is one exception, when God voluntarily loses His memory:

… “I'll forever wipe the slate clean of their sins.”
Once sins are taken care of for good, there's no longer any need to offer sacrifices for them (Heb. 10:17) [THE MESSAGE].

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

God and the Spider Web

David R. Helm writes in his commentary on Jude about Frederick Nolan. Nolan was fleeing from his enemies during a time of persecution in North African.

Vigilantly pursued by his foes, Nolan was running out of places to hide. Finally, bone-tired he came upon a small cave. Hiding inside, he expected his enemies to find him.

Certain he was awaiting his death, he saw a spider begin to weave a web. Within minutes, the insect had woven an intricate web across the mouth of the cave.

Shortly thereafter, his hunters arrived. At first, they suspected Nolan had entered the cave. Then, they considered how it would have been impossible for him to have entered without destroying the web. So they left.

Nolan escaped his potential captors. Later, contemplating his fate, he wrote, “Where God is, a spider’s web is like a wall. Where God is not, a wall is like a spider's web.”

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

I Don’t Ever Fall

The story is told (and perhaps it is legend) of the once famous circus performer, Philippe Petit. He was practicing in the Bayfront Auditorium in St. Petersburg, Florida, when he fell about 10 yards to a concrete floor. Someone present described Petit as rolling over on his stomach, hitting the concrete with his fist, and crying out, “I can't believe it! I can't believe it! I don't ever fall.”

So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don't fall!” (I Cor. 10:12.)

Monday, September 27, 2010


                Look around and be distressed.
                Look inside and be depressed.
                Look at Jesus and be at rest.
--Corrie Ten Boom

Friday, September 24, 2010


This is quoted directly from TIME, May 10, 2004:

"'My father makes a percentage off me, so he had no problem with it.'--

Jessica Simpson, pop star, when asked what her father, a Baptist minister, had to say about her new line of 'kissable' body-care products."

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Shining Clear Through

TMAS 092110… Shining Clear Through

Tony Tucker, the youth minister at my old, hometown church, wrote an article in his bulletin the other day in which he told about a little girl, who was confused by her preacher's sermon. Her mother asked her what confused her. And the girl replied, “Well, he said that God is bigger than we are. Is that true?”

“Yes, that's true,” the mother replied.

“The preacher also said that God lives within us. Is that true too?” The little girl asked.

Again the mother replied, “Yes.”

“Well,” said the girl, “if God is bigger than us and he lives in us, wouldn't he show through?”

From the mouth of babes.

Paul writes in Galatians five that God's spirit lives within us. Consequently Paul says the qualities of God should show through.

22But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23gentleness and self-control (Gal. 5:22-23a.)

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Town Gossip

Several years ago, my high school principle, Carl Talbert, sent me a story about Joan, the town gossip. Joan was the self-appointed supervisor of the town's morals, and she kept sticking her nose into other people's business.

Several local residents were unappreciative of her activities, but feared her enough to maintain their silence. However, one afternoon, she made a mistake; she accused George, a local man, of being an alcoholic after she saw his pickup truck parked outside the town's only bar.

George, a dedicated Christian and man of few words, stared at her for a few moments and walked away without saying a word.

Later that evening, he parked his pickup truck in front of her house and left it there all night.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

"Couple 'adopts' drunken driver responsible for son's death"

A couple of decades ago, the associated press ran a story about a couple that was truly inspiring.  For years the embittered couple did everything within their power to make life miserable for the drunken driver who had killed their only child.  They followed him to his court appearances, they followed him to the county jail to make sure he was serving his prison sentence of weekend time, and they even followed him to his apartment.

Ultimately, the grieving couple realized revenge did not work. So they tried a more radical cure for their pain; they forgave the sinner.  They began to have him as a guest in their home for meals and, twice a week, he was their guest at their church.

Listen to what the mother had to say, “The hate and the bitterness I was feeling was destroying me.  I needed to forgive [him] to save myself."

After the parents forgave the drunk driver, he became a Christian, quit drinking, and became an active lecturer for Mothers Against Drunk Driving.  With gratitude he said, "They've given me a better life.  They've made it much easier for me to live with myself and forgive myself."

I love that story.  I love the title of the article "Couple 'adopts' drunken driver responsible for son's death." You know in many ways this story is reminiscent of our own story with God.  We were drunk in our Sin and thus responsible for the death of Jesus.  We should praise God that he didn't seek revenge.  Instead, he forgave us and he adopted us.  We are now his children.

Rom. 5: 6-11: “You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. 7Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. 8But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
 9Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God's wrath through him! 10For if, when we were God's enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! 11Not only is this so, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.”

Monday, September 20, 2010


He was a leading attorney of his state. Yet, he was young and desired to be a leader among attorneys in the nation.

George Harding was just such a lawyer. His firm was hired to provide legal counsel in one of the country’s most famous patent cases.

Harding decided to engage the services of a lawyer, who lived near to the client and, who “understood the judge and had his confidence.” He found one—the good, young, up-and-coming lawyer. Harding paid him a retainer and arranged a substantial fee for when the work was completed.

The young lawyer was ecstatic. This was an opportunity for him to test himself. He had great ambitions and felt this was a long-awaited opportunity.

The lead attorney lived in a city some distance from the ambitious lawyer, and he failed to provide much communication during the months of preparation. Arriving at the location of the trial in Cincinnati Ohio, the young, hopeful lawyer spotted Harding, accompanied by an additional attorney.

Seeing the two of them together came as a surprise. Nevertheless, the young attorney suggested they walk together to the courthouse. Somewhat irritated, the superfluous attorney drew Harding aside and asked in a loud whisper “why did you bring that ______ long armed ape here… he does not know anything and can do you no good.”

With that, the two lawyers abandoned the young attorney and proceeded on their way into the courthouse. The additional attorney became Harding’s second-in-command.

The young attorney took the hint and removed himself from the case. Even though he had prepared a detailed manuscript for Harding, Harding, as lead attorney, never gave the work so much as a glance.

Neither Harding nor his second-in-command ever asked the young lawyer to join them for meal or any other endeavor. When the presiding judge hosted a meal for lawyers on both sides of the case, the young attorney was completely ignored and never received an invitation.

As one might imagine, this experience was devastating for the young attorney. He had been ignored and disrespected. The young attorney and the second-in-command would not see each other for another six years–when the young attorney would offer the second-in-command “the most powerful civilian post within his gift.” That office was Secretary of War.

Doris Kearns Goodwin tells the story of Abraham Lincoln and Edwin Stanton in her book TEAM OF RIVALS. In offering the government position to Edwin Stanton, Abraham Lincoln showed magnanimity uncommon for most human beings. Ultimately, this act and many others would be appreciated by Stanton. Goodwin writes that he would “come to respect and love [Lincoln] more than any other person outside his immediate family.”

I have personally seen the spot, where Stanton stood over Lincoln’s assassinated body, when he issued the proclamation, “Now he belongs to the ages.”

Many of us know that Abraham Lincoln offers example after example of living Jesus’ command, “love your enemies…” how transformative would it be for each one of us to truly implement this command of Jesus within our churches?

Friday, September 17, 2010

Happy, 80th Birthday, Daddy

            This morning I had my blog post ready to go when it occurred to me, today was my dad’s birthday. He would have turned 80.  This is poignant to me because he was about my age when he died. A lot has happened since then.

            I would post his photo but he died long before we knew digital photos. (Maybe I need to consider scanning some.)

            Daddy did not see email. Six months after he died, I received a hand-written letter he had sent me, when I was in New Guinea. It had been mistakenly placed on a ship, instead of an airplane. It arrived long after I had left for home; the missionaries kindly mailed it back to me—by air.

            He missed the fall of the Iron Curtain and 9/11. He missed the firing of Tom Landry and wins under Jimmy Johnson.

            When daddy died, we didn’t know who George W. Bush was. Heck, Ronald Reagan was only two and a half years in to his presidency.

            He never knew my wife. He, obviously, did not know his grandchildren. He never saw the adult my sister grew up to be, nor her husband and children.
            He never saw the human being that my mother became. Indeed, I think the crises of his illness and death helped make her the woman she became.

            Daddy never saw any of this.

            Yet, because of the work of Jesus, considering Daddy’s place in eternity, maybe he did. 

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Dateline: Middlesex County Landfill, East Brunswick, New Jersey

When residents near this garbage dump, which will collect 1,000,000,000 pounds of garbage this year, began to complain about the smell, local authorities decided to do something about it. They prepared special trucks to be able to spray perfume around the landfill.

They are hoping this will provide the dump with a “pleasant, showery smell.” Neighbors expect this to be an improvement. Of course, they know it will not be the ultimate cure.

It was this approach, Jesus was addressing in Matthew 15. Throughout human history, people have attempted to deal with the garbage within their human hearts with moral perfume, hoping it would cover the smell. Possibly in some cases it improves the smell, but it ultimately does not solve the problem.

The problem is the landfill of garbage within the human heart. This must be radically treated. Jesus says that unless he comes in and removes the garbage, rotting and decay will continue.

Mt. 15:19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. 20aThese are what make a man 'unclean’…

Wednesday, September 15, 2010


Almost ten years ago, FOCUS ON THE FAMILY’S H. B. LONDON commented on the calls his organization received on its toll-free Pastoral Care Line.  (FOCUS was making these lines available to church leaders all over the country.) During the course of a one-month period, FOCUS received over 400 calls. Out of those 400 calls, 20 % dealt with sexual issues. This prompted London to write:

“I'm repeating what I have been saying across the country for nearly a decade. If you do not have someone to whom you are accountable, you are vulnerable. If you do not give your spouse permission to ask you big questions regarding Internet use, you are vulnerable. If you do not have someone outside your door or the door ajar when you counsel a member of the opposite sex, you are vulnerable. But most of all, if you do not have a quiet, intimate time each day with the Lord -- to speak and listen and contemplate -- you are vulnerable. The proof is in the calls we receive....”

Accountability is a tremendous deterrent when it comes to sin.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

That’s Not Fair!

Quick! What name is most often associated with the Great Depression? When it comes to blame for the Great Depression, I would say it is the name of Herbert Hoover. After all, even one of the great Broadway musicals of all time, ANNIE, has a song that is derisive of the ex-president.

(In case you are fuzzy on your U.S. history, Herbert Hoover became president in 1929 at the supposed height of US economic strength. In October of that same year, the stock market crashed and the Great Depression began.)

One of the reasons Herbert Hoover was elected president was because he was known as one of the great humanitarians in world history. It was Herbert Hoover, who led the organized effort to feed the orphans in Europe after World War I. There, he practically achieved the status of sainthood. How many of us remember this fact?

It seems patently unfair that Herbert Hoover, if he is remembered at all, is remembered as a terrible president because of the Great Depression. But guess what? That's life.

It was patently unfair that the Son of God, the only perfect man who ever lived, was executed by the most painful means devised by Man in the course of human history—crucifixion. Yet, the Heavenly Father was able to use Jesus’ life in a pretty effective way.

From our perspective, the problem is that fairness and reputation were not of supreme importance to God, when it came it came to the life of Christ. It may not be the priority, when it comes to us either.

I want to die with a good reputation. I want to be remembered for only good things. Yet, what if God can use my life in an even greater way were I to surrender all, including a legacy of competence and dignity?

Monday, September 13, 2010

The Jewelry Box

Tony Blair is the dynamic ex-Prime Minister of Great Britain. He recently wrote his memoir, in which he speaks quite a bit on the relationship between Great Britain and the United States. He holds a great affection for America. He ended his excerpt in TIME magazine with a touching story:

A friend of mine, whose parents were immigrants, Jews from Europe, who came to America in search of safety, told me this story. His parents lived and worked in New York. They were not well off. His father died when he was young. His mother loved him, and in time, my friend succeeded and became wealthy. He often offered his mother the chance to travel outside America. She never did. When eventually she died, they went back to recover the safety box where she kept her jewelry. They found there was another box. There was no key. So they had to drill it open. They wondered what precious jewel must be in it. They lifted the lid. There was wrapping and more wrapping and finally an envelope. Intrigued, they opened it. In the envelope were her U.S. citizenship papers. Nothing more. That was the jewel, more precious to her than any other possession. That was what she treasured most....

This is a great example of what Jesus observed over two millennia ago—“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Mt. 6:21.)

Friday, September 10, 2010

Who Was That?

An old story goes like this:

            After putting her grandchildren to bed, a grandmother changed into her old slacks and a droopy blouse and proceeded to wash her hair.

            As she heard the children getting more and more rambunctious, her patience grew thin.  At last she threw a towel around her neck and stormed into their room, putting them back to bed with stern warnings.

            As she left the room, she heard the 3-year old say with a trembling voice, “Who was that?”

            Some people imagine God speaking in the same tone as that grandmother, when he talks with Adam and Eve in Genesis three, after the Fall. I envision a God who is clearly in charge, yes, but also very merciful. Nothing more awful could have occurred than Adam and Eve remaining alive forever in their fallen state. God’s consequences, if you check, also bring ultimate redemption.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

What Goes Around, Comes Around

Last week, Leo Dutton did not earn his pay. His job was just too easy.

According to the Associated Press, Dutton, a county sheriff, received a text message from a teen-age boy asking this question, "Hey Dawg, do you have a $20 I can buy right now?"

When Dutton realized this was an actual request for drugs, he texted back with a proposed meeting time and place. Once there, he confronted the young texter who had brought along a friend by flashing them his badge. Accordingly, the faces of both young men turned white, and they, shall we say, became very unsteady on their feet.

Had the boys listened to some 2000-year-old words from the Apostle Paul, they might have been spared the indignity:

Gal 6:7--Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

The United State of Busyness

A few weeks ago, TIME magazine did a cover story on the American novelist, Jonathan Franzen. Here is a quote from Franzen that speaks to America today:

We are so distracted by and engulfed by the technologies we've created, and by the constant barrage of so-called information that comes our way, that more than ever to immerse yourself in an involving book seems socially useful. The place of stillness that you have to go to to write, but also to read seriously, is the point where you can actually make responsible decisions, where you can actually engage productively with an otherwise scary and unmanageable world.

Franzen was inspired by the 19th century philosopher Soren Kierkegaard. Ahead of his time, Kierkegaard wrote that the problem of perpetual busyness is that which locks an individual into continuous distraction.

We live in a society with all of its cell phones, Internet capabilities, MP3 players and the like that seeks to distract us. With that distraction, as TIME so ably summarizes it, people are empowered to “avoid difficult realities and maintain self-deceptions.”

I like Franzen’s idea of finding a place of stillness, in order to read, process, and think. Rather than making any book your partner in that endeavor, I would recommend placing our priority upon one: the Bible. With that time, that place, and that book, I think each day we can find an oasis in our cultural desert. 

Could there be a more nourishing experience?

Monday, September 6, 2010

Marathon Man

Several years ago, Sam Gadless went to the doctor. He was in terrible shape.

The doctor told Sam he might not live much longer. Sam made a decision: he would dedicate himself to exercise and see if could redeem his body.

Sam chose to begin a rigorous program of running. Evidently it worked. By the time Sam turned 90, he had completed six marathons. At age 91, he competed in the New York Marathon along with his 56-year-old son and 26-year-old grandson. He completed the course in 8 hours and 26 minutes—that’s a little over a 19 minute a mile pace!

Doctors and others shared with Sam essential truth and provided him with a healthy program of physical exercise. These ingredients, coupled with Sam’s spirit and participation, led to a transformation of Sam’s physical being.

I think it is that way for one who turns his life over to Jesus. Jesus’ word of truth convinces a person to faithfully allow Jesus to live within him. By faith, a person allows Jesus to lead him through a life filled with spiritual exercise. All of these factors combine to transform a person’s life into something vital and healthy.

Has your life been transformed by Jesus?

Friday, September 3, 2010

He Was Missed

            Deep in the heart of my files, I found a reference to a story Paul Harvey was supposed to have reported a decade or two ago. It seems, at that time, a seventy-three year old man was found pinned under his tractor on his farm. He had been there for a few days, but he survived his nightmare.

            What caught the attention of the person sharing this story was the fact that it was the members of his church, who figured out something was wrong. He did not show up for Wednesday night prayer meeting. This guy was always there at prayer meeting. If he was not there, something was wrong!

            Members immediately began investigating and that was when some discovered his terrible plight. What I like about that story was this—the man’s absence was noticed!

            If you were absent from a meeting of your faith community, small group, Bible study, or prayer group, would people notice? Would it be assumed part of your normal routine (here, absent, here, absent…)?

            Something else, do you let members known when you will not be present? At my church, we have a member who is autistic. She suffers from Asperger’s sydrome, just like Temple Grandin. This member is the best I have ever seen at letting me or others know she will not be at a certain event. She offers no surprises, but she does offer accountability.

            Shouldn’t we all practice this? Why is it that someone, who suffers from a disease that hampers her ability to relate to people, is the only one in our church, who gets a very important point about what it means to relate to people?

(Editor's note: in the original, I made reference to "Temple Grande." I am sure somewhere on this planet, someone carries the Spanish name--translated--of "Big Temple." However, that is not the same person as the one I intended to reference--Temple Grandin. My bad.) 

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Sitting on Treasure

I read in WORLD magazine, this week, that a family now looks to Superman, as a true superhero. They were about to lose their house, which had been in their family for several years.

As family members were preparing to be evicted, they came across a box of comic books. In this box was the comic book that introduced Superman to the world in 1938. Back then, it sold for ten cents. Estimates now place its value around $250,000.

I think Christians, likewise, do not realize the treasure they are sitting upon. By that, I do not mean US dollars, rather I am talking about a life in Jesus that is so full of contentment and meaning, it exceeds our ability to describe. What's more, this quality-of-life—this life to be treasured—is available throughout eternity.

I cannot explain it. Paul tries, “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen” (Eph. 3:20-21.)

Wednesday, September 1, 2010


After hearing his dad preach on "justification," "sanctification," and all the other "--ations," a preacher's son was ready when his Sunday school teacher asked if anybody knew what "procrastination" meant.

The boy said, "I'm not sure what it means, but my dad says our church believes in it!"

What about your church?