Today, decide who you will serve – Joshua 24:15 With these words, Joshua challenges the people of Israel to choose who will be the one that they serve, God or the idols of their time. These words resonate today, as never before has the foundations of our Christian faith been challenged by the petty figures which inhabit the political landscape. The words of such politicians are easy to hear and incite our feelings, but are empty of lasting value and filled with the confidence brought about the power of this world. Even the great Philosopher, Aristotle had little to say of the rhetoricians, who pander to crowds with orchestrated speeches. He stated that these speakers care little about the essential messages but rather arouse emotions as a means to appeal to listeners. Aristotle lamented, as did Joshua before him and Jesus after him, that people follow the words of these speakers- often to their detriment. The words of these politicians give false hope, empty promises, and a false sense ofContinue reading »

This week I read two heart stirring reports. The first one was about an elderly, critically ill (cancer) veteran, Clarence Blackmon, who called 911 because he was hungry. He didn’t have any food in his place and wasn’t able to get his frail frame out to obtain any. The 911 dispatcher personally answered his need and others responded, as well. It was a relief to learn that now Blackmon will have a nurse to visit him twice a week to do checks on his well being. I wonder the percentage of folks who check on their elderly, and infirm family members and neighbors. In our fast paced society, so many folks use the excuse about how busy they are while others are in selfish mode on the regular . . . It saddens me to know of the “busy” folks who neglect their family members. The neglected hear that their loved ones are so busy. People shouldn’t be otherwise engaged to points of failing to show love and quality attentionContinue reading »

Years ago, I worked with a guy (I’ll call him Dan) who also lived in my community. On occasions, we’d be on the bus at the same time. Dan is a deeply interesting conversationalist with knowledge of various sorts. He and I conversed regularly and both enjoyed our verbal engagements. We all have strengths and weaknesses. One of Dan’s weaknesses was his penchant for being overly critical of people. One day Dan came to sit beside me on the bus. He began to criticize one person after another. Patiently, I listened. When Dan paused long enough for me to get words in without rudely interrupting him, I mentioned that he’d shared about what was wrong with assorted folks. Calmly, I asked, “What’s wrong with you, Dan?” He didn’t answer — obviously, my question angered him. Abruptly, Dan got up and moved to another seat. I didn’t say anything further and that was that. Later, Dan and I continued to engage — neither of us re-visiting our “interesting” chat on theContinue reading »

Love, honor and appreciation is extended to the mothers who pour into their children abundant love, care, discipline and diligence in child rearing. The same extends to those non-mothers who generously administer tender loving care as relatives and guardians. My mother passed away when I was a teenager. My dearly beloved aunt Margie stepped in to care for me and my sister. Aunt Margie had two children of her own, but she chose to “mother” us, as well. Through the years, Aunt Margie has done the same for other relatives. Indeed, she’s a jewel in the ways in which she so consistently exhibits love and care. I adored my mother, Helen. As her youngest child, yes, I was spoiled. She was a treasure of a mother. Certainly, we knew that we were loved by the constant evidence presented by Mama. “Recovering” from her absence was a huge challenge. Rebellion was one way that I acted out my profound grief. Coming to grips with my motherless status was immensely difficult. FolksContinue reading »

1 Corinthians 9:25 – KJV And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things . . . Ah, that word temperate. How challenging is it to contain ourselves to consistently exercise temperance? Surely, it’s the wise and reasonable thing to do but how often do we miss the marks in that regard? What readily comes to mind is religious fanaticism. As a child, growing up in church, among other things, we were instructed not to watch TV, and not to go to the movies. Women church members were discouraged from wearing pants and jewelry. Temperance sure wasn’t on board in that restrictive environment. We didn’t know that then — rather we believed that to abstain from such was holy conduct. A good number of churches have relaxed their unreasonable “policies.” Religious fanaticism isn’t constructive or healthy for our spirits, minds or bodies. God encourages purity with balanced lifestyles. How many of us know of “super spiritual” folks who frequently pepper their conversations with “Thank you, Jesus,”Continue reading »

That night all the members of the community raised their voices and wept aloud. All the Israelites grumbled against Moses and Aaron, and the whole assembly said to them, “If only we had died in Egypt! Or in this wilderness! Why is the Lord bringing us to this land only to let us fall by the sword? Our wives and children will be taken as plunder. Wouldn’t it be better for us to go back to Egypt?” And they said to each other, “We should choose a leader and go back to Egypt.”Numbers 14:1-4 God had miraculously delivered the Israelites from slavery in Egypt. All day long they made bricks and built walls in Pharaoh’s kingdom and were beaten and treaded with contempt and ruled with a harsh hand. They cried out to God for help. The Lord said, “I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering. So I have come down to rescue them from the handContinue reading »

When I was a young boy faith seemed natural. God was there. Mother said He was and that settled it. I could even feel it when she would read to me from the Bible. It brought a holy hush to my curious young mind. There was no reason to doubt. Sometimes she would take us to a church and there I could feel it too. In that sacred, quiet place the intimidating outside world could not enter. In those days, I just knew God was looking down on us. I hoped He would be happy with my personal presence, but of that I wasn’t too sure, as I usually did not live a very ‘holy’ little life. But at night when the lights had gone out I did my very best for God by saying long prayers for everybody I could think of. Aunts, uncles, the maid, the dog and the cat, everybody would get his or her turn before God. God was there and He would hear… Was thatContinue reading »

I love Paul’s writings above all other Biblical writers. His words breathe life into my heart and it swells with joy. For someone who began his relationship with Christ as an enemy to Jesus and His disciples, Paul, to me, clearly and passionately brings truth to light, dragging, if necessary, the resistant. He loved God’s people, lived to preach the gospel to the Gentiles, and brought the light of truth to many of the old ways as well as slamming the door on so-called freedoms in Christ that were in error. In 1 Corinthians Chapter 8, he is speaking about eating meat sacrificed to an idol when invited to dinner. As Christians, we know that an idol is just a piece of wood or stone, no more able to do anything than is a kitchen table. In this sense Paul says, you may eat anything that is offered, but if another brother or sister in Christ is present who does not understand this freedom that Paul is speaking of andContinue reading »

Sometimes it looks like the whole world has gone insane. The newspapers are full of news, but it’s mostly bad. Hatred, greed and selfishness seem to be the rulers of this world and many people try to hide in holes of deep discouragement. Where is it all going to? And is there hope? Of course there’s hope. The future is as bright as the promises of God and according to the Bible, our future couldn’t be any better. When the Puritan leader John Owen was dying, his secretary was writing a last letter on his behalf. The man began his letter with the words, “Today, I am still in the land of the living, but…” John Owen motioned to him that that was not at all what he wanted to say. He motioned for the secretary to carefully listen to him and then he whispered, “Write this. Today I am still in the land of the dead, but soon I will cross the threshold and I will step into theContinue reading »

The steps of a righteous man are ordered by the Lord. Psalm 37:23 He orders my steps. I need not fear what is up ahead because He orders my steps. He counts the hairs on my head. He knew me before I was born. He has numbered my days. Our prayers need not be long and fluid, flowing from one spiritual word to another. Our prayers don’t need many words and lofty phrases. God looks on the heart and He sees us and He knows the desires of our heart even before we do. He has planned my life with all its twists and turns, failures and triumphs, joys and sorrows. He orders my steps. David said in Psalm 37:23 that “the steps of a righteous man are ordered by the Lord.” In prayer, I speak these words, You order my steps… Before I can even get to the word “so,” He stills my lips until the words “You order my steps” hang in the air. It is enough, HeContinue reading »

When I first saw him coming down the street I was tempted to look away. He was ugly, dirty and he was asking for money. He was bad news. If I would just look the other way he would be gone in a jiffy and I would not have to deal with him. But somehow I kept on looking. Nobody was giving him anything and he looked utterly lost. I had a bit of a rough day myself. I was living in France at the time, raising support for a missionary project by selling books, but it was going bad. I had not even been able to cover the costs yet, after several long hours in the hot sun. It was one of those hard days, and my selfish, carnal nature wasn’t about to share the little I had. “Come on,” I heard a still, small voice in my heart. “Why don’t you give him something? It will encourage him.” Obviously God looks at people in a different way thanContinue reading »