Wednesday, May 11, 2016


IN THE BIBILCAL BOOK OF JOSHUA, chapter three, we read that the priests carried the Ark of the Covenant into the Jordan River and as they their feet touched the edge of the river the river rolled back and the Children of Israel walked across into the Promised Land on dry ground!

Pretty miraculous, but what grabbed my attention as I was reading once again about this event is that the priests stood there in the middle of the Jordan River holding the Ark while the nation of Israel walked through on dry ground. Now, we're talking about 2 million people, that's a long time standing there!

Should they had moved, not only would they have disobeyed the word of God, but I suppose the river would also would have returned to its previous flood-stage.

These guys were amazing! Talk about sticking at your post and carrying out your assigned task, these guys rocked!

Here's the lesson that convicted me: how often do I desire to leave my post? Be it as a father, husband, or pastor? Do I realize that people's lives are depending upon my faithfulness in order for them to pass through this life in relative safety? My obedience to the Word of God is vital to the safe arrival of people into God's Promised Land.

Is it tough? Sure! Does the load get heavy? You bet! Do my legs feel weak and shaky? Without a doubt! But it seems imperative that I remain at my post until all cross-over safely, or until the LORD, by His power, relieves of my call.

Sure, we all want to give up, especially those who have been standing in the dry river bed wondering when this will all be over, but stand we must. 

Today, I read a challenging post by Pastor John Piper entitled, "Hillary, Bernie, Donald and Me." I encourage you to read it, especially if you find yourself to be one of those aging Baby-Boomers, like me.

So, until the LORD calls you out of your riverbed, I encourage you to stand firm, be immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, for your labor for Him is never in vain. (1 Corinthians 15:58)

Tuesday, May 03, 2016


ONE OF THE JOYFUL EXPERIENCES in life is jumping on the bed, even if it frowned upon by most authority figures. 

The place of rest becomes a place of joy.

I was reading in Leviticus where the writer records God's command about keeping the festival, writes,

On the first day shall be a solemn rest, and on the eighth day shall be a solemn rest. And you shall take on the first day the fruit of splendid trees, branches of palm trees and boughs of leafy trees and willows of the brook, and you shall rejoice before the Lord your God seven days. Lev. 23:41-40
There you have it, without the end-boards rest the bed of rejoicing soon falls apart.  If you want to rejoice well you need to rest well.  The LORD, in His graciousness calls us to rest, so that we can rejoice in His goodness.

Sadly, we too often refuse to rest, and in doing so lose the strength to rejoice before the LORD with the vigor of a preschooler jumping on a bed.

Therefore, let us rest well and rejoice with wild-abandon over the goodness of our God! 

Tuesday, April 05, 2016

LIGO and the Ol' 19th

 I LOVE LOOKING AT THE HEAVENS. I would, in know way, call myself an amateur astronomer, but I do enjoy reading books and articles and of course, gazing at pictures of the heavens.  Many of the explanations of the universe and our recent discoveries are way over my head, yet I am caught by the wonder they create in me.

This past February I discovered, as I suppose some others of you did, about an instrument that detects gravitational waves. These waves are so small, well let's just say it's beyond my comprehension, that it takes a quite amazing instrument call LIGO, (astronomers love acronyms!) which stands for: Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory and now you know why they like acronyms. Rather than for me to explain it, if you're interested, I encourage you to check out the link above.

Now, here's the news, on September 14, 2015 this instrument "wiggled," well wiggled is a bigger word than what it did, remember these waves are small.  They were able to determine from these waves something that took place billions of years ago. Check out the new release here.

Whether you believe, or understand, what they say they were able to discover, it is all pretty amazing. Recently, I was drawn to the last sentence in an article I read in the April 2016 edition of the Smithsonian Magazine.  The author, Brian Green, writes, "There's nothing more inspiring than our capacity, in the midst of our ever-present terrestrial struggles, to look up, to wonder, and to have the ingenuity and dedication to see a little farther."   (The Detection of Gravitational-Waves was a Scientific Breakthrough, But What's Next?) Upon reading that sentence my mind and heart went directly to the thought that the Psalmist David was once again right on the money when he penned in Psalm 19,

The heavens are telling of the glory of God;
And their expanse is declaring the work of His hands.Day to day pours forth speech,
And night to night reveals knowledge.There is no speech, nor are there words;
Their voice is not heard.
 So, whether it is peering into the deep darkness of the night sky, or measuring the infinitesimal waves of gravity, one must say, "How great is our God!"

Wednesday, November 25, 2015


A LONG, LONG TIME AGO, in a galaxy we call our own, there used to be a season called Christmas, whose title I understand came from the Mass that was celebrated on Christmas morning. A Mass that celebrated the advent (the arrival) of the Son of God, Jesus, the Christ.

Somehow this celebration morphed from a gathering at the local cathedral to an event that covered the week prior, then the month prior, then two months prior, oh well, you get the picture. Now, we begin our celebration, in the form of holiday sleep-outs in front of Best Buy, or acquiring gifts from the Day-After-Christmas-Sale to be placed in our crowded closets until next year (that is if we remember them) all in the name of saving a few bucks on gifts for friends or ourselves.

Yes, most of us know, and maybe even believe, that the reason we give gifts is because God gave us His greatest gift in sending His Son, Jesus Christ, to be our Savior. (John 3:16-17; Luke 2:1-21) He came to set us free from the slavery to, and the effects of, sin. (Romans 6:22-23)  Not to mention that one of those sins is covetous materialism, but that's material for another blog.

The truth is, none of us could ever give a gift that would match or could even try to explain God's gift of love in and through His Son and His sacrificial death on the cross and His glorious Resurrection (John 19:1-42; John 20:1-31). Therefore, let's stop using excuse of God's giving for the purpose of our give extravagant and often unimportant gifts.

Now, I'm not saying we shouldn't give gifts, I like gifts as much as the next guy, what I am saying is that we should give gifts that truly honor, show love, bless, or serve person (Rather fulfilling our desire to get thank-yous, or to look better. On yeah, right! None of us would ever do that!)

May I make a humble suggestion?  

Let's move from calling it Christmas, even Jews, Muslims, Hindus, unbelievers and atheists, call it Christmas and even celebrate it.  I suggest that we call it Advent (Not a new idea, I'll admit,) so that the focus will be upon the first arrival of the Lord Jesus Christ and that looks forward to His second arrival. (Acts 1:7-11)

Next, I suggest we give gifts that truly show love, compassion, thoughtfulness. These gifts can be simple or elaborate. They can grace a home, bring the joy of an activity or event, or even bless by being a blessing.  What I mean is that we give to others in the name of the person we seek to bless. Take for existence donating the gift money to places like, Living Water, Operation Christmas Child, Gideons International, Compassion International, World Vision, or World Relief. I am sure you can think of others.

So, there you have it!  We can work to bring back the reality of the first Advent as we endeavor to live in the reality of the coming One.

Have a blessed Advent season, and oh, by the way, did you notice the trinitarian Advent statement on the 1904 Sunset Magazine cover above.  If you did, way to go!!!

Tuesday, November 24, 2015


I LIKE THE INDIANA JONES MOVIES (except for the snakes!  “Snakes! Why did it have to be snakes?!”) My favorite of the movies is The Last Crusade not just because the religious and sacramental overtones, but because we are introduced to Indie’s dad, one of my favorite actors, James Bond!  Oh wait, I mean Sean Connery. When he appeared I just about cheered, thankfully Linda held me in my seat.  Anyway, back to the movie.
Toward the end of the movie, in which they are searching for the Holy Grail, (of course the Germans are also searching for it, too!), they discover its resting place and after going through a number of hair-raising puzzles to get to it, they arrive at the sacred room, where there are hundreds of goblets that could be the one. All of these goblets, from the ornate to the simple, were guarded by one of the Knights Templar, which had been there for hundreds of years (remember this is Indiana Jones.)
At this point Indiana and the Antagonist are trying to determine which goblet among the hundreds is in fact the true Holy Grail. As they search among the cups the knight declares, “Choose wisely, for the correct cup will bring life, while the wrong cup will bring death.” The nemesis of Indiana determines that a jewel encrusted goblet, one fit for a king, is the true Holy Grail. He takes it, dips it into a basin of water and drinks deeply. Yes, it was the wrong cup and soon a terrible death envelops him.
Now, it is Indie’s turn, scanning over the cups he noticed in the back a rough hewn wooden chalice. He muses, “This is a cup of a carpenter.” He dips this cup into the basin of water, and with slight hesitation drinks it all.  Yes, this is the cup that brings life. And the story continues  . . . you’ll have to check out the movie.
The responsibility to “choose wisely” is always before us. There are many jewel-encrusted cups that can grab our attention away from that which is the true cup. One cup subtracts from our life, the other brings life.
We are too often drawn to what we think is good, only to find out it robs us of the good.  Maybe it is choosing to attend sports games on Sundays that keeps us from worshiping within the community of the redeemed.  It could be choosing the comforts of our couch rather than standing up to serve in the church or in the community in the Name of Christ. Possibly it is choosing to grab at that cup of wealth that promises to bring life, instead of giving your wealth away to those who have less than a wooden vessel to drink from, or worse, drink filth-ladened water.
We may each say that we are searching for the One who is The Life, and our choices declare otherwise.  Here is my encouragement to you, not only in this Advent season but throughout the coming years, choose wisely and find life for yourself and for others.

What cup do you hold in your hand? Is it the cup of this material culture, or is it the cup of the Master? My prayer for you is that your actions and your attitude show that you have taken the steps to prove that you did choose wisely.

Sunday, October 25, 2015


LANGUAGE IS FOREVER CHANGING. Spend a day at a local high school and you would find it difficult to follow the discussion. If you’re white like me, place yourself in the middle of an Oakland, California high school at lunch time and I surmise you would not even understand a word that is being said, but those indigenous students around you would not even skip a beat in their communication and their comprehension.

I might be quick to judge the native speaker from the inner-city of Oakland and say that their language is incorrect, but a visitor from over-the-pond in England might judge my language as incorrect as well. The key issue is are we able to understand each other? If we are not, are we willing to take the extra effort, to walk a step closer, to ask the clarifying question, so that we can understand?

What is true about crossing cultural and linguistic borders in our midst can always be said about the language we use within the community of people we call the church, or the Body of Christ. Even though we may share the same locale and possibly the same language, we are not always communicating at a level that is truly understood.

As we greet one another with a “How are you?” or a “Whatsup?” or a “Hey!” or a simple “Hello,” we hold ourselves back from the interaction to which we are called within the family of God. I believe we need to change our language, which will also demand that we change our culture.

The Hebrews have long possessed a word within their culture of which many of us are aware. The word is “Shalom.” We often understand it as the word for peace, and we would be right in our definition. But it means much more, its layers are nuanced. Back in my university days, while studying that great ancient language, our professor walked into class and said, “ma-shalomcah?” In his greeting and question he essentially asked us, “How is your peace?” or “How is your well-being?” It is, as you can see, a much deeper greeting demanding a much deeper reflection than if he had simply said, “Hello.”  It goes beyond our greeting of, “How are you?” For it is asking not how we feel, but how is the peace of our soul.

So, next time there is the opportunity to greet someone, take a moment to consider your language and maybe adjust it ever so slightly so that the love of God can enter in.

Monday, October 19, 2015


YOU MIGHT NOT BELIEVE THIS, but when I was in high school I had a number of girlfriends and I loved each one intensely . . . or so I thought.

The reality was I was not in love, I was infatuated. Love is other-centered, whereas infatuation is self-centered. Infatuation is about getting, receiving, feeling good, thanks-getting, and of course, being the center of attention. Love on the other hand is about giving, offering, feeling safe, thanks-giving, and of course, making the other the center of attention. Infatuation is about taking control whereas love is about giving-up control. In summation, infatuation is about YOU and love is about the OTHER.

What is true in our earthly relationships is also true in our relationship with God. I have come to see, since my early days of following Jesus as Savior and Lord, many say we love God, when in fact our actions look more like infatuation than love.

Let’s take our “Date-Time” with the Lord, commonly referred to as our Worship Service. The Worship Service is our time to express our love to God, and I do believe that we are seeking to do so, but laid against what I wrote above, it often looks more like infatuation than love.  If you believe that this doesn’t refer to you please feel free to stop reading, but if you think this applies to the person sitting in front of you, then keep reading so you know what they’re going through as they read this.

Many of us, when we come to worship, if we are honest, are more focused upon ourselves, than God. We come to get more than to give. We come with the desire to feel good rather than the desire to encourage the other. We come to experience things our way rather than express things God’s way. To put it even a little stronger, we come self-centered instead of God-centered. What we think passes for love of God is sometimes infatuation of self. It is about YOU rather than HIM.

Please understand I am not seeking to make you, or me, feel bad. On the contrary, I want to call us to move from self-absorption to God-adoration. To move from simply being infatuated with God to loving Him with all our heart, soul, mind and strength.