Monday, December 25, 2017

Joy for Jesus

If being surrounded by my family brings me joy (and it does) I can imagine the joy of Jesus when at last His entire family is assembled around Him, safe at last!

Until then, I pray we will even now take pains to bring Him all the joy we can. “Love one another as I have loved you,” He said. Let’s do so actively, purposefully, and persistently, even when we don’t feel like it.

Christmas is one more day when we can set our sights on practicing what He preaches. So here we go! Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 23, 2017

White Lines

Until yesterday I never thought of offering a prayer of thanks for the people who paint white lines on the shoulders of roads.

I was driving on a two lane rural road in the early morning darkness and the headlights of an oncoming vehicle blinded me. But there it was, the trusty white line on the shoulder, pointing me to safety and nudging me away from the roadside woods. For the first time in my life I thought to bless the painters who kept me on the road. And I did so.

I have a question for you. Who are really more important: billionaires, kings and queens, celebrity entertainers, presidents, or the people who paint white lines on the shoulders of roads?

Perhaps even more important are the people who paint the double yellow center lines that shepherd us away from head on collisions. Thank you Lord for them!

Often I am blind to important things and dazzled by trivial ones. At Christmas I become immersed in the preparations, the gifts, the people with whom I celebrate, the food and drink, the clean up. The lighted decorations dazzle me, and sometimes sadness and loss blind me. Why do I not turn my eyes more purposefully to the Eternal Father who gives life and breath and forgiveness and express thanks to the One who is leading me safely where I need to go? Who also is leading many others whom I love.

God sent His Son Jesus into a troubled world to open the door to eternal life to all who will come. God helping me, that is where my eyes will focus before, during and after Christmas.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Different kinds of grace

"That grace which will carry us through prosperity, will not carry us through sufferings. The ship needs stronger tackling to carry it through a storm than a calm." Thomas Watson, The Lord's Prayer, 1692

The news these days suggests to me we should pray earnestly for both kinds of grace.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Hope for today ...

"Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
"Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you."
Jesus' apostle Paul, Philippians 4:4-9

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Entering into Prayer

When I pray, especially at bedtime, I often just plunge in, leading with whatever concern is foremost on my mind. Then, usually, I pause and begin again, struggling to put God the Father, the Holy God being addressed, above my pressing concern.

Perhaps it will help if I speak to myself some words of Martyn Lloyd Jones, a pastor now with the Lord.

"Before we begin to utter words we always ought to do this. We should say to ourselves: 

`I am now entering into the audience chamber of that God, the almighty, the absolute, the eternal and great God with all His power and His might and majesty, that God who is a consuming fire, that God who is "light and in whom is no darkness at all", that utter, absolute Holy God. That is what I am doing.' 

"We must recollect and realize all that. But above all, our Lord insists that we should realize that, in addition to that, He is our Father."

"The Lord is good, A stronghold in the day of trouble, And He knows those who take refuge in Him." Nahum 1:7 

Martyn Lloyd Jones, Studies in the Sermon on the Mount

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Hollow Crusades

All this "sanctuary" city/county/state stuff looks hollow to me. Cities and states that offer sanctuary from federal law enforcement to non-citizens are merely grandstanding.
Instead of grandstanding, state and local officials should use their "bully pulpits" to persuade citizens to communicate directly and persistently with their U.S. Senators and Members of Congress, urging them to reconsider and reform federal immigration laws. Congress can actually fix the immigration system; local sanctuary regimes can't.
The immigration system needs fixing. One jurisdiction insulting another is not a fix.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

The Great Loop of Impotence-Taking Apart the News Cycle Merry-Go-Round

"According to [Neil] Postman, [with the coming of the telegraph] for the first time people had an “information glut.” They were reading headlines about events that were happening across the U.S. and Europe. However, most people could do nothing about these events. The most they could do is offer opinions in the form of public opinion polls, which are then converted in to a news item that no one can do anything about. Postman refers to this as “a great loop of impotence.”

From, Taking Apart the News Cycle Merry-Go-Round, by Heather Zeiger, October 17, 2017,

Retrieved October 18, 2017

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Legalizing Assisted Suicide: The Message This Sends

"Legally, the government has two choices. Laws that prohibit physician-assisted suicide encourage a worldview that says there is value to life and it ought not to be thrown away based on an individual’s subjective perception of his or her situation. Such laws teach us that our lives are objectively valuable, even if we do not recognize our own value. And they teach everyone else to help us in finding value and enjoyment in our lives.

"But by legalizing physician-assisted suicide, we make a different statement. Such laws communicate the idea that suicide can be a reasonable, moral, and socially acceptable choice, because some lives are no longer valuable. Suicide is prohibited in all other circumstances, sending the message that most lives have value that ought to be protected by law, even when the person in question does not see that value. In certain circumstances, however—specifically, when an individual is losing his or her own independence—such protections need not apply. Society is affirming, by legalizing physician-assisted suicide, that it is better to be dead than disabled. It is better to be in the grave than to live with reduced independence. This message is sent both to people with disabilities like me and everyone else who interacts with us." [Emphasis added.]

From, Physician-Assisted Suicide Tells People Like Me That Our Lives Are No Longer Worth Living
by  Zachary D. Schmoll, Public Discourse online,
The Witherspoon Institute, May 8, 2017

Retrieved 5-13-2017

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Where is truth?

When I stop expecting truth in the public conversations of our time, this declaration in Psalm 57 directs my attention to where truth is.

"I will praise You, O Lord, among the peoples;
I will sing to You among the nations.
For Your mercy reaches unto the heavens,
And Your truth unto the clouds.
Be exalted, O God, above the heavens;
Let Your glory be above all the earth."

Psalm 57:9-11

Monday, April 17, 2017

In the Beginning, What or Who?

Which statement is the more reasonable?

* In the beginning an impersonal force sometimes called "evolution" took nothing and made it into the present universe. Or,

* In the beginning a supernatural person whom we call "God" created the heavens and the earth.

On a simpler level, is it more reasonable to maintain that the device we call "smartphone" came into existence with or without the intervention of human hands and minds?

Thursday, March 23, 2017

To cause to explode ...

To cause to explode ...
March 22, 2017

The word fulminate may mean, variously: to issue a thunderous verbal attack or denunciation, to explode or detonate, to cause to explode.

Which of these results do the political fulminators of today desire? Perhaps all of them? But let's think. What can happen in an explosion?

"ROCKVILLE, Md. — A house in a Maryland suburb of the nation’s capital was leveled early Friday by a thunderous explosion heard for miles around, a blast so powerful it shattered windows and caused other damage to several neighboring homes, authorities said ... It’s just a pile of debris; it’s just a pile of bricks. There’s not anything left of the house,” said Pete Piringer, chief spokesman for Montgomery County Fire & Rescue Service."
The explosion affected not only the home, but distant neighbors. "I’ve heard there were calls from miles away, people calling," said the fire department spokesman according to radio station CBS DC 106.7

Is this what we want for America? Surely Christians should not! Yet I find myself fulminating against political leaders and fellow citizens all too often. The separation between my convictions and my mouth can be galactic. This must stop.

The time has come for people like me to model the self discipline Christ commanded, and let our neighbors see a people headed out of the smoke and flame to kindness and sanity.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Can dementia be a friend?

A Christian friend of mine - I'll call him Jack - was telling me at breakfast yesterday how his father came to believe in Jesus Christ. This happened at the end of a life in which the father had distanced himself from Christ.

As the father advanced in age he developed a serious illness together with dementia. While Jack helped care for his father, they had opportunities to talk.

Jack discovered something amazing: the dementia had caused the father to forget the objections he formerly had to belief in Christ! Now he listened and ultimately put his faith in Christ, the son of God!

To a person who is not Christian, this may seem only a quirk or unusual development in a wasting illness.

To me and my Christian friend, it seems God used the dementia to offer the father a clean spiritual slate - a blank sheet of paper on which his Maker proceeded to write the truth and won him over to Christ. And to eternal life.

Jesus said, "The things which are impossible with men are possible with God.” Luke 18:27

I believe this.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

A white boy's induction into America

I grew up white. I still am white. I want to testify that black Americans have "friended" me into their communities. Have allowed me to share things I could never have been a part of without their friendship.

No, I don't mean on social media. When these friendships started social media didn't exist.

I grew up in a white community. My first experience of living with black men came in the Air Force in the late 1950s. Several black fellow airmen were friendly to me and I welcomed their friendship. Still I sometimes fell into an attitude of superiority.

When I left the armed forces I returned to my  essentially white community, attending a local university. My friendships at college were entirely white. While not hostile to black people, I felt impatience with the black men and women who were "sitting in" at the drugstore lunch counter across from the university, asking for the same service as whites. I could live with the proprietor's privilege of serving whom he chose, and of turning others away.

Studying law in Washington, DC, in the early 1960s, I encountered a much broader ethnic mix than I had at college. Any attitude of superiority on my part vanished, as it became obvious that my legal talents were no more than average - on a good day. My fellow students came with all kinds of ethnic backgrounds.

On graduation, I was fortunate to gain a job in a Texas U.S. Attorney's office. There the young black woman who was my administrative assistant refused to put up with a condescending attitude, and instead patiently worked with me as I learned. Likewise, my first supervisor was a capable black woman who was not a lawyer. Imagine, a lawyer working in a law office under a non lawyer! Working with two black women - one over and one beside me - could have been a problem had they not been friendly and patient.

As I gained experience a black Assistant U.S. Attorney, Carl Walker, Jr., befriended me. That friendship was tested. For example, I remember how much I dreaded meeting Carl the morning after Dr. King was murdered in Memphis. I feared that Carl might attribute his death to "my people." That morning our coffee group had our usual meeting in the canteen. Carl was unchanged. I was grateful.

What lesson do I draw from my "cross cultural" experiences with black Americans? There is hope for our so-called "American Experiment." We can become one nation. We can become supportive friends even while we remain creatures of our particular cultures.

It has been said that eternal vigilance is the price of liberty, and I believe this. Today in America there is much vigilance toward and fear of strange foreign cultures. However, while vigilant, we must recognize that our fears of other cultures can exceed their actual potential for doing harm and can make us ignore the potential for good relationships.

Through the kindness and forbearance of black colleagues over the years I have learned to value them, their culture, their interests and their friendship. I have learned to value their work and have learned from them how to do mine. I pray that I always will remember how people from this American culture that was strange to me made me their friend, their colleague, and often their pupil. I pray that I will be the same kind of friend to other people who start out strange to me.

Saturday, February 18, 2017


I believe dependency on God opens the door to true security, life and freedom. (Isaiah 43) It is available no other way.
Dependency on government or other powers kills your spirit. (Psalm 146:3, Psalm 118:8-9) These powers lack commitment to you.
Dependency on self leads to disappointment when you discover your limitations. (Matthew 7:42, Galatians 5:17)
Dependency on God enlarges your spirit and transcends your limitations, for God's commitment to His sons and daughters is complete and His resources are unlimited.
Fear of evil, death, pain or punishment may cloud the reality of God's provision, but Christ has conquered these and promised to deliver His people to a new life and kingdom where peace (shalom) prevails. (John 16:33, 1 Corinthians 15:50-58) Christ has removed the causes for fear by means of the sacrifice He made of Himself on the cross and His ensuing resurrection.
Therefore dependency on God's commitment opens the door to true life, security, freedom - and I would add joy - and bears us up in the trials of this life.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Sanctuary from everything federal ...

Americans who want their cities to be "sanctuaries" for violators of federal law might properly go a step further and declare themselves free of ALL federal law. If one can selectively nullify a U.S. law, why not nullify the whole package? Including the U.S. Constitution.

Sounds absurd, doesn't it?

Is it any less absurd to rob your fellow citizens of the protection of a law that penalizes people who sneak into our country, or enter by deceit, or violate the terms of legal visas?

If you want people to have legal sanctuary who enter this way, shouldn't you make your case to the body that has jurisdiction over such questions - the United States Congress?

If you won't do that, will you at least have concern for your neighbors? I mean, stop asking state and local governments to encourage violation of federal law. They are authorities charged with protecting us, your neighbors. What makes it right to endanger your neighbors to indulge your philosophical or political opinion?

Thursday, February 2, 2017

A spiritual plague ...

Our nation, like other nations, is experiencing a spiritual plague. We collectively and individually have doubted the authority of God and in many cases the existence of God. This often is true of Christians as well as others.

We Christians sometimes believe in a watered down Christ, or a Christ whom we embellish with our own will instead of diligently seeking His. In safe and prosperous times this attitude seems alright. In unruly hard times (like the present) the error should be obvious, but it often becomes obvious only after it has caused a lot of damage.

What Christians believe and do has a great influence - good or bad - on the community around us. The prophet Jeremiah identified the response God wanted from His people in a time when Israel was subdued and exiled in Babylon, having been defeated by King Nebuchadnezzar. They were at the mercy of hostile conquerors, but God commanded "... seek the peace of the city where I have caused you to be carried away captive, and pray to the Lord for it; for in its peace you will have peace." Jeremiah 29:7

The unruliness of America today stems from a spiritual problem, and I believe spiritual problems call for spiritual solutions. If the church of Jesus Christ prays in the way Jeremiah described, the church will move toward peace and the nation around us will do the same. How do I know this? God promises.

"When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command the locust to devour the land, or send pestilence among my people, if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land." 2 Chronicles 7:13-14

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Shock and awful ...

"But because shock events destabilize a society, they can also be used positively. We do not have to respond along old fault lines. We could just as easily reorganize into a different pattern that threatens the people who sparked the event." So wrote Heather Richardson in the Dallas Morning News.

Who can disagree that the manner in which the president's executive order on immigration was put in place last weekend, was a shock?

It WAS a shock. To that extent I concur in Heather Richardson's opinion piece. However, I have no way of knowing whether it's motive was to shock people, or whether the author was the president's advisor Steve Bannon. Perhaps it makes no difference.

I also agree - to a limited extent - that the shock presents an opportunity. Not an opportunity for "threatening the people who sparked the event", but for collaborating with Congress and the White House to refine and explain the policy.

Ms. Richardson's piece provoked me to reflect more deeply on what is happening as a result of the order. As usual for almost a decade, the news media took sides and members of Congress retreated into opposing corners then came out fighting.

Isn't it time Congress functioned as a refiner of policy rather than an arena for mortal combat?

In my view Congress has failed too long to cooperate with one another and fulfill its constitutional role of advising and checking the president. All Members, House and Senate, Democrat and Republican, have a serious stake in maintaining the functionality of their respective chambers. Does Congress want to become as nonfunctional as the human appendix?

The prolonged dysfunction of Congress may at least partly explain the wracking chaos of the recent primaries, general election, and post election periods.

Both parties-all parties-are stakeholders in our constitutional republic. We still have the implements of a republic. Let's go back to using them so we can keep it!

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Pray boldly, not hesitantly ...

"Three things may give boldness in prayer. We have a Father to pray to, and the Spirit to help us to pray, and an Advocate to present our prayers. God's children should in all their troubles run to their heavenly Father, as the sick child in 2 Kings 4: 19: ‘He said unto his father, My head, my head.' So pour out thy complaint to God in prayer. ‘Father, my heart, my heart; my dead heart, quicken it; my hard heart, soften it in Christ's blood. Father, my heart, my heart.' Surely God, who hears the cry of ravens, will hear the cry of his children!"
Thomas Watson, The Lord's Prayer.