The restaurant supplied the jar of bubbles and the father provided the wind for the soapy orbs. In a gentle stream the bubbles floated across the table toward the sweetest little girl. As she reached out for them one giant bubble settled safely on the back of her hand. The rays of sunlight coming through the window polished its swirled reds and greens. Expressing glee she reached out with her other hand to stroke it and—BAM! It was gone. It was so pretty, so ephemeral.
Jesus touched on this theme in the Sermon on the Mount. He said, “See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?” Matt. 6: 28-30.
When we are ten years old a year is a lifetime. When we are 30 a year is a year. When we are 50 a year is a month. It does not take a Philadelphia lawyer to realize life is as ephemeral as a bubble sitting on the back of a little girl’s hand. Bam! It is gone. And how will we have lived it?
Written September 24,2002
There is a book and movie about the life of Adolf Hitler that has generated a considerable amount of criticism because they reveal his human side. He is not depicted as a homicidal maniac but as a person with characteristics and behaviors like us. We are most uncomfortable with this. We want him to be as much unlike us as possible. We want him to be a mad man from his youth to his death. We do not want to acknowledge his oratorical talents and mastery of human psychology. If he is like us then logic might suggest we also could mastermind the horror of a holocaust—an ugly truth we would rather not face.
Unfortunately, psychological research reveals the unpleasant truth that most people under certain stimuli will actually do the things of their nightmares. The battle has raged for years. Are we evil by nature or are we basically good? The answer seems to be “Yes.” On any given day we are capable of incredible acts of unselfishness and self-sacrifice. There is a bit—albeit just a bit of saintliness in us all.
“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.” Romans 3:23-24.
It is a blow to our dignity to think we cannot be good enough to be saved. Nevertheless, once we get over it and face the truth, it is at that point that we receive The Gift—the justifying grace of Jesus Christ.
Written February 2, 2003
She was 91 and her obituary described her as a good bingo player. “A Good Bingo Player.” That was it. She was 91 and all that could be said about her was she watched her bingo card carefully so as to not miss a number. Was she a mother? Was she a grandmother? A great-grandmother? Was she a good wife? Did she like to cook? Had she ever volunteered for a community service project? Did she ever write anything or read a good book? Did she raise a family? Was she a Methodist or a Catholic? So many questions could be asked. But her last line in life was, “She was a good bingo player.” It is obvious the last people to care for her and to notify the newspaper never really knew her.
But then again does anyone ever really know us? Do we ever really know ourselves? Fortunately, the one who counts the most really does know us. Jesus said, “Even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.” Matthew 10:30-31. And Paul reminds us in Romans 2:16, “This will take place on the day when God will judge men’s secrets through Jesus Christ.” I rejoice in knowing that the one who knows our secrets also loves us.
What would we want the newspaper to say about us when reporting our demise? How about “a good daughter,” “a good dad,” “a good wife,” or “a good grandpa?”
Written November 10, 2002
According to the first law of thermodynamics energy in a closed system is neither created nor destroyed. It is merely transformed from one form to another. Just a few forms are wave energy, kinetic energy, potential energy and energy of mass. Think about a box of matches. It is a small bundle of potential chemical energy. Yet it has the potential to release energy in the form of heat and thus fire.
A community is something like that box of matches. Each person is a source of energy. Each person has the capacity to do great things for their community—be it a school community, a church community, a neighborhood community. Multiplying that potential by the number of people in the community produces a staggering dream of what can be.
In Acts 2:3 we read the story of the Holy Spirit filling the disciples with power. And what happened when all that power was transformed into work? Acts 17:6 says, “They turned the world upside down.” And we can do that today.
Written March 25, 2003
Jeremiah 1:5 is one of the Bible’s most intriguing verses. It reads, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.” This verse is a part of God’s calling Jeremiah to be His prophet.
200,000,000 sperm begin the race to the egg waiting in the fallopian tube. Only 50 will make it. Only one will penetrate the egg’s protective outer layer. Instantly a chemical process occurs locking out all other sperm. The miracle of life is in process. We are a combination of 46 chromosomes, twenty-three from each parent. That union decides what we will look like along with a host of other pre-decided characteristics.
God told Jeremiah he was known before he was formed. There were 200,000,000 chances Jeremiah would have been someone other than himself. God knew which sperm would fertilize which egg, all of which were formed before Jeremiah’s mother was born. Is this all a bit amazing? But then again since God designed the whole marvelous life process this foreknowledge of Jeremiah’s personhood should not be outstanding. It is all in a day’s work for our omnipotent, omniscient God.
There is one more thing. It was not only Jeremiah who God knew prior to his formation. He knew you, too.
Written in 2001
Looking through the want ads can be kind of fun especially if you don’t particularly want anything. Looking for something specific like a job can be very frustrating. Actually when you think about it, the Bible is really one big want ad. God is advertising a great product and hoping, as do all who run ads, that lots of people will respond.
God’s ad could come under several different categories. It could be a personal ad. “Friendly, loving, caring, sacrificing person of means looking for someone to share long-term relationship.” Not bad.
It could also come under real estate. “Mansion. Nice neighborhood. Good neighbors. Glorious views. Offered at sacrificial prices. Owner motivated.”
How about a help wanted ad? “Father-son business needs committed employee willing to travel. Great retirement, good medical, compensation out of this world.”
God could run an ad in almost every section of the want ads. How about this? “Cleaning service. Restore to new condition. Stain removal 100% guaranteed.”
Written in 2000
The English language is rich in modifiers. Adjectives and adverbs flow from our mouths to describe numerous features of a noun. Trucks are old. Dogs are black. Scenery is beautiful. Or we can say old trucks, black dogs, or beautiful scenery. Sometimes that does not seem strong enough so we add the word “very” in front of the descriptor.
In 2 Peter 1:4 Peter tries his best to impress us with an incredible truth. He says, “Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.” The promises of God are not just precious; they are great and precious. But that was not strong enough for Peter. They are, according to him, very great and precious.
And just what are these “very great and precious promises?” They are promises that we do not have to be slaves to our baser natures. We can break free by actually becoming participants in the divine nature of God. God is willing to move inside our very minds and share His ideas, thoughts and power so we can change into His image. It is all so wonderful. No, it is all so very wonderful.
Written in 2000
A little seven-year-old granddaughter approached her grandma and invited her to play a game of Twister. Soon they were in an amazing array of positions. Finally when granddaughter fell and grandma was declared the winner, the proud seven-year-old turned to her friend and said, “See, I told you my grandma was flexible.”
There is much to be said in favor of flexibility. We live in an incredible world of change. Technology has created a global village. Each day we come across new ideas and have new exposures to different cultures. We visit with people who do not have the same background and see life through different colored glasses than we. We need to open our minds to the reality of other people’s worlds and do our best to understand them.
Often we mistake being rigid and uncompromising as standing firm for principles. That need not be. It is not necessary to sacrifice one’s own standards to understand that others also believe that their principles are important. Their principles are as important to them as ours are to us.
The world is changing and if we are not open to change we will become the antiques of society having a faith that is not attractive to anyone other than those who are afraid to change.
Written in 2000
One of the joys of owning an old house is the continual process of repairing aging everything. There is always a broken something that needs attention. One could almost conclude that people who believe in evolution have never lived in an old house. Things in an old house do not become more organized by themselves. Rather an old house is a perfect example of entropy.
The whole process is not much different than humankind’s degeneration after the fall of Eve and Adam. It took just one generation to produce a murderer. And our history has not been exemplary since then. But the whole is made up of individuals. We do not have to look at history as a whole. All we need to do is watch one person born so innocent and watch the selfish process strip away that innocence.
Thus the horrendous need for the plan of redemption, which is not really so much about materially rewarding the redeemed with mansions as it is about restoration to wholeness. That is what we need. Frankly, we can do without the streets of gold. What we cannot do without is regeneration into the image of the One who originally made us in His imagW.
Written in 2000
There was a woodpecker in the house. The back door had been left open and the woodpecker came in. The poor guy was panic-stricken. Madly he flew from room to room banging himself against walls. It was not a pleasant experience. The first impulse was to grab a net and try to catch him. But wisdom took over–just open all the doors to the house and get out of the way. Sure enough. In a few minutes the woodpecker found his way out the front door. For the next hour he chattered all over the yard. He must have been telling the others of his horrible adventure.
Chasing him about the house with a net surely would have injured him. Have you ever wondered if when we are in difficult places God opens doors of opportunity for us and then gets out of the way? Sometimes all we need is a chance. He already has given us the brain and talent to succeed. He knows it is best for us to use them because real success is our success and not something handed to us by another.
This however is not true when it comes to salvation. Because we are sinners we cannot meet the demands of the law. It is essential that Jesus’ success become ours. He gives it. We accept, and we grow. We take His gifts and use His strength, and we find freedom.
Written in 2000