Thursday, May 31, 2018


So my girl Julie has a birthday tomorrow...

Well tomorrow my Julie turns 42.  Hard to believe but it is true.  And I am so proud of the woman she is.  Here are just a few of the reasons why.

Julie is a survivor.  Life has not turned out like she wanted or expected.  She has learned that the only person you can control is yourself.  And that has helped make her a really good parent.  Her kids are being raised to make good decisions.  They have a living example in their Mom how to make good choices.  And just as important, how to make hard decisions when things are off track.

She is a good Mom.  Not just because she makes pallets and has Dance parties.  Not just because she is as crazy about their pets as her kids.  Not just because she has learned to love gymnastics and because she will sit at a baseball field all day (and like it).  Not just because her kids friends like to come over and hang out.  But she is intentionally parenting her kids.  And that is hard as a single parent.

She sees the best in people.  She is certain everyone will do the right thing, and if they are not -- that she can convert them.

She is a great nurse.  Actually cares for her patients.  Prays with many of them.  Holds their hand.  Puts them before herself.

Loves family.  Her Mom and her daughter are her best friends.  Loves her Grandmother.  And her extended family.  Her birthday lunch had kids, parents, a grandmother, an aunt, and a great-uncle.  Adores her brother and his family.  Always trying to "steal" her nieces and nephews to come live with her.

But here is the thing I am most proud of about my girl.  She is a faith fighter.  Life gets really hard.  You fight to hang on to Jesus.  You don't give up.  When your health is poor and no one can figure out the answers, you keep putting one foot in front of the other.  And by the way, one day your Dr. says your health is better than it has been in years (thank you God).  If you make a wrong choice, or lose your focus, you stop it, set your eyes of Jesus, and fight for your faith.

So Jules, thanks for making me a proud Pops.  You are doing well.

And God thank you for giving Julie to us.  She has blessed us beyond what we ever could have dreamed.  Protect her from evil.  Give her strength and energy and thank you for giving her health back to her.  Use her to help others see you.  

Wednesday, May 30, 2018


Friends, Death, and my Memorial Day

We just had Memorial Day celebrations in the United States.  This is the day we remember those who fought to ensure the political freedoms of this nation.  There was talk of sacrifice, death, and heroism.

So it got me to thinking about the people I love who are real heroes.  People who fought for the real and lasting freedom found in Jesus.  People whose lives made a difference.  People who battled Satan.

And people who died.  When nothing else worked, Satan used the death weapon.  And he still lost. 

So here is my Memorial Day remembrance and thanksgiving.

Tina.  Satan used cancer and it only took a few months.  But I was there in her hospice room.  It was a holy place.  Even a place of joy.  And of peace.  Death lost.  Jesus and Tina won.

Josie died of  cancer too.  Went into remission for a while but the cancer came back stronger.  I spent time in her hospice room also.  Prayed with her.  Took communion with her.  Talked about Jesus.  She died and went home.  Satan lost that one too.  Some of her family are now talking with me about following Jesus.  Josie and Jesus won. 

DeLynda too died of cancer.  Just a matter of weeks from diagnosis to death.  There are going to be a lot of people in heaven some day because she believed.  Struggling believers that she would not give up on and that she kept loving.  People that did not know Jesus.  People she studied with, prayed with, counseled.  People she helped find Jesus.  Satan lost again.  Delynda and Jesus won. 

Three soldiers of the cross. Each of their deaths was precious in God's eyes.  People whose deeds follow them still.  People who now get to see God face to face. 

Satan thought death would give him victory, but Jesus turned death into our victory. 

So thanks Tina, Josie, and Delynda.  I remember you.  I know you are free.  And I know you helped others to be free.

Really free forever.

So we will tell your stories. 

And we will use them to help others know and to see Jesus.

Thursday, May 24, 2018


Hard truths that I want me and my grands to live by...

Raising children in this world is scary.  Always has been.  Always will be. 

School shootings.  Pedophiles.  Drunk drivers.  Bullies.  Racists.  Gossips. 

Sinful actions normal.  Not just accepted, but promoted.  Standing for truth/Jesus will open them up to ridicule, abuse, and hate. 

I get asked a lot by parents how they should feel about things.  And what they should do.  What should they teach their children?

So here are things I believe to be true and righteous.  I want to live out these truths.  I tried to raise my kids to live these truths.  And I want my grands to live this way.

But I get how dangerous that is.  Risky.  Scary.  Much easier to talk about what we ought to do than to do it.  Much easier to huddle up in church and talk about courage and what ought to be done than to actually do it.

But here are the truths I want me and mine to live out.

This world is evil.  Most people we encounter are not Jesus followers.  People do bad things to others.  It is a fallen world.

This world is not our home.  We are not supposed to be at ease here.

Heaven is better and that is where we want to be. 

Death is real.  So is pain and sorrow. 

Jesus is the only answer.  He changes hearts and lives.

So talk about Jesus.  It will be hard, awkward, and you will have some who will hurt you for it.  But some will listen.  Some will come to Jesus.  You will change lives.

And that will change the world.

As Christians we have already died.  Baptism was our crucifixion.  Even death does not defeat us.

So do not be afraid or terrified.  Do not hide inside your house or your church.

Be courageous.  Get out in the world and be a Jesus follower. 

God you know that all this is easier said than done.  But you sent your Son into a hard world because he brought life.  Help me bless my grands to live and speak that message in a hard world.  Let them be warriors for you, not cowards.  And let them see me leading them.   

Wednesday, May 23, 2018


What the Bible says and what the Bible means...

"Well, we just read the Bible differently."

I often hear this statement when people do not agree on what the Bible means.  Or course, this statement is not correct.  We all read the Bible the same.  The problem is how we view what we read. 

I do believe Scripture is inspired by the Holy Spirit.  And I believe the Holy Spirit was active in preserving Scripture as the early Christians came to consensus about what constituted the Bible. And I do believe that Scripture was written at a certain time to a certain people in a certain context.  But...

"It is cultural."

That is the phrase often used to talk about the audience, setting, and situation of different passages.I do believe that Scripture was written at a certain time to a certain people in a certain context.  But...
the real question should be:  is the teaching specific just to then and there?  Or does it have meaning for here and now?

You hear this discussion quite a bit these days concerning women's role in the church.  And I Timothy 2 is one of the passages I hear discussed as to whether it is cultural. 

The reading is clear.  Paul speaks to the authority and leadership of men. 

But does that mean male authority is a principle just for the church in Ephesus almost 2000 years ago?  Or does that principle apply to the church today? 

Paul makes two statements that certainly seem to make it broader than just a local principle for a certain time and place.  He says this principle is based on creation and the fall.  Adam created first.  Eve sinned first.  Those concepts are much bigger than Ephesus and whatever was going on there.

Clearly that church had problems.  There are some men causing problems.  And there are some women causing problems.  Some would argue that Paul's teaching is just because of that local situation.  Except that when Paul writes about male authority,  he is clear that this is a fundamental truth starting from creation and the fall.

But doesn't Paul say "I" when talking about this?  Yes he does.  And then explains his reasoning.  And that reasoning is not cultural only.  I suppose you could argue that Paul is incorrect in his theology and the Holy Spirit decided to let that error pass.  But that is an argument that opens up all of Scripture to debate whether the Biblical writers were correct or not.  And that assumes we are certainly correct when questioning them.  I cannot read the Bible that way. 

So I am very careful about the "cultural" argument when the very passage contains teaching that shows it is more than just then and there.

It is obvious that I believe Scripture clearly teaches male authority and leadership.  And I agree that that principle has been abused sometimes.  And we have been wildly inconsistent on what authority and leadership actually means. 

But that does not change the principle.

So I listen to Christians debating the topic of women's role and what I Timothy means.  And I see many churches dividing over it.  But I think the division is bigger than this one topic.  I think the debate is over how we view Scripture.  Not how we read Scripture, but what it means.

Women's role is one issue.  There will be others. There are others.

You may agree with how I see Scripture.  You may disagree.  But as someone who uses Scripture to teach non-believers, and uses Scripture to do spiritual counseling ... I have to be true to my conviction about what the Bible means.

It is what God expects of me. 

And of you.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018


How to Stay Married 45 Years

This Saturday, May 19, Marsha and will have been married 45 years. 

Evidently that is a long time.  People seem so surprised and amazed to hear that.  I want to think it is because we look and act so young (well, she looks young and I still don't act my age), but I suspect it is because in our culture long marriages are becoming more rare.

So I have been thinking about how you make it 45 years together.  Here is what I think.

Jesus.  You cannot make it this long unless you are both more in love with Jesus than with your mate.  He is the only foundation to build a marriage and a home upon.  When you try to be like Jesus, you are going to be a better husband and wife.

Fun.  Never stop having fun.  Travel.  Or hang out.  Or do movies and a meal.  Hobbies.  Whatever.  Just never stop having fun.  Together.

Laugh.  Life is funny.  We are funny.  Nothing makes me happier than to hear Marsha laugh.  Still.  After all these years.  And for those that ask her if she laughs all the time being married to me... well, not always.  But lots. 

Kiss.  Don't let the physical romance leave your marriage.  Hold hands. 

Be proud of what you have accomplished.  For us, that is not the material things we have.  In fact, I am not sure we really have many of those.  But we sometimes take a minute to look at our kids and we realize we did a great job with them.  And our grands are a source of joy and pride.  They just make us happy.

Serve others.  We are a really good team when it comes to helping others.  We have helped a lot of people find Jesus.  Helped heal a lot of marriages.  If you want to hear about Jesus, listen to me.  If you want to see Jesus, watch Marsha.  Sorta funny.  Mostly true.

Forgive always.  Don't hold grudges.  Forget the past.  Extend grace.  Help your mate move closer to Jesus.

Pick well.  Not sure this is something you do in marriage, so maybe it is advice for the singles reading this.  Find a Christian.  Marry someone who makes your heart skip a beat.  I picked a good wife.  But I also picked a good Mom. 

It really does last.  We are still doing Kingdom work together.  I am a better Jesus follower with Marsha than I would have been without her. 

And my heart still races when she walks into a room.

And the great wife became a great Mom who because a great Mimi.

I am blessed.  I would do it again. 

I imagine we are starting the fourth quarter of our marriage.  If the Lord lets us have another 15 years.

And if so, it is going to be the best one yet.

I love you Mimi.

Thursday, May 10, 2018


Mother's Day, Church, and Jesus

Here it is again.  This Sunday is Mother's Day.  And churches once again are wrestling with what to do about recognizing it.  Because here are some of the people who will be in your audience Sunday...

Lots of Moms.  New Moms up thru Great Grandmothers.  Single Moms.  Moms still grieving the loss of children.  Moms with faithful generations growing up under them.  Moms with children who are not believers.

There will be women there who want with all their heart to be Moms, but it hasn't happened yet.  Single women who have found their mate.  Married women who can't seem to get pregnant.  And women who are single by choice and some who have chosen not to have kids.

Church Moms will be there.  My wife has "daughters" all over who look to her for advice.  Every church has those church Moms.  I can name a dozen or so where I go to church.  And that is without really thinking about it.

Children will be there.  Grown kids bringing their family to church with Mom.  Young kids sitting by Mom, or on Mom.  And there will be grieving children missing their Mom.  Some of them for the first time this Mother's Day.  There will be children there who are estranged from their Mom.  And some who were abused by there Mom.

So how does the church handle Mother's Day.  Celebrate all Moms and know that some feel awkward and left out?  Apologize for perhaps hurting someone's feelings if you celebrate mothers?  Pretend every women is a mother?  Ignore it?

Preach on Mom's in the Bible.  Dust off the Mary sermon.  Or Elizabeth.  Or Timothy's mother and grandmother.  Or Ruth and Naomi.  What about Eve?  Or Leah and Rachel?

So what would I do?

I would be sure that more than anything, we celebrate Jesus.

And it is a good chance to celebrate Moms and motherhood.  So do it.  Acknowledge those who might be hurting or feel awkward.  But the truth is, most of the ladies we worry about hurting or offending are actually not going to be upset.  If they are believers -- and most of them will be since it is ... well, church -- they are big fans of mothers.  They want to encourage and help and support the mothers of their church.

So here's to Moms.  Moms by birth, by marriage, or by fellowship.  Moms that did their best and Moms that wish they had done better.  Moms that showed us Jesus.  Moms that loved us, nurtured us, and supported us.

 So here is my shout-out to my five favorite Moms.  Love you Granny.  Miss you and will see you in heaven.  And love you Mom.  You taught so much about Jesus.  Julie and Jamie.  You girls are great Moms.  Your kids are the living proof of the good work you are doing.  And Honey/Mom/Mimi.  You are the best.  Your kids and grands adore you.  And I love you for the dozens and dozens of your Moms you have mentored, supported, cried with, loved on, and modeled how to be a Jesus wife and mother.

You Moms rock. 

Tuesday, May 08, 2018


Taking out the garbage with Jesus

Here is the question I have been pondering lately:  do I have to take out the trash to be a good husband?

I want to be a good husband.  I am all about what God wants from me.  Lead my family spiritually, love my wife, pour out my life for my family, be sure our home is a Jesus place.

But the Bible really does not say much about taking out the trash.  I get that my wife asks me to, wants me to, and appreciates it when I do.  And I do love her.  And trash does need to be taken out.  Gets pretty messy if I don't.  But does it have to be every day?  Do I have to gather it all up?  It surely wouldn't hurt to miss one day.

It reminds me of how I sometimes hear people talk about  following Jesus.  Love God, love my neighbor, do what Jesus did, serve people, make disciples.  But about the mundane things, the little things, or things the Bible really does not say much about.

Take church attendance.  How many times do I have to go?  Is there extra credit for Sunday night?  What about Wednesdays?  Does small group count?  What if worship is too long, or too short?  The singing might be too high or too low?  I am not always inspired by church.

Do I really have to go to church to be a good Christian?

The reason I think about taking out the garbage is because I have to think about it when I am taking it out.  Maybe this chore is a way to express my love to Marsha.  It is something that actually makes a difference.  And does God really need to give me every rule about how to lead and love my family?  Maybe those mundane chores are not so mundane after all.

Maybe God should not have to spell out the rules about church attendance either.  Love God, serve others, remember that I am part of a body.  Maybe the mundane spiritual things are not so mundane either.

So is their any rule that says I have to take out the garbage to be a good husband?

No.  But I do notice a lot of good husbands that do.

And is there a rule that says I have to go to church?

No rules.  But I do notice that the strong Christians do.

What if I stopped trying to find rules, and argue about rules, and trying to justify my behavior.

What if I just did love?  In every small and mundane way I could.

And if in doubt, just look at a strong Christian and see what they do.

So I don't need a rule about church.  I'll just be there.  Like the other faithful believers.

But now I'm going home to take out the garbage.  Just like the other good husbands.

Thursday, May 03, 2018


Churches, Scripture, and being a people of the Book

I like the Bible.  I believe the Bible.  I want my family to know the Bible.  I want my spiritual family to stand on Scripture. 

And I know Scripture can be hard to understand sometimes.  The Ethiopian needed guidance.  Peter had some trouble getting everything Paul taught. 

And I admit I come out of a heritage that prided itself of being a "people of the book."  Sometimes that pride might have veered into arrogance as if we could never be wrong.  But I also know I learned a lot of Bible growing up. 

I want to stay a people of the Book.  So how do you know your church is a Bible believing community of faith?

Is Scripture read in your assemblies?  Do people need to bring their Bibles to the sermon and classes?  Does your leadership study Scripture?  Do they know Scripture?  Are your classes Bible school or current trends and topics classes?  And by the way, those are not always mutually exclusive, but you get the point.  Are your small groups encouraged to read and study Scripture?

And here are few things that might concern you.

Churches that teach the Bible does not say what it means.  I heard some of that growing up when worship was discussed.  People would say read your Bible concerning singing and instrumental music and you will know what God wants in worship.  Then they would take you to passages that only talked about one of those things.  The practical outcome of that is that you are teaching people that the Bible clearly means what it does not say.  That seems a little confusing. 

Churches that teach the Bible does not mean what it does say.  Hearing a lot of that in churches discussing women's role.  Lots of teaching about male leadership in the Bible.  Very confusing when churches try to explain that what you read is not what God meant. 

And I got very excited when lots of preachers began to use the title Minister of the Word.  I thought that meant they were hired to teach the Bible.  From the pulpit, in classes, in homes.  That sounds like a church that is committed to Scripture.  But I sometimes hear that defined as meaning the minister of interpreting the Word.  If not careful, you would begin to think the average member cannot be trusted to figure out for themselves what God means.  Not sure that is a Bible church.

Hard things to wrestle with.

But of this I am confident.  I want to be part of a church that tells me this about the Bible.  Read it.  Study it.  Memorize it.  Discuss it.  Teach it.  And realize some things are difficult to understand.  And we may even agree to disagree on some things. 

But I do not want to be part of a church that tells me I cannot understand the Bible unless it is interpreted for me.  And don't tell me it says what is not there.  And do not tell me what it says is not at all what it means.

Because it may just be that Bible really does say what it means.  And means what it says.

Tuesday, May 01, 2018


My Skin Doctor, Jesus, and Spiritual Health

I recently went to my Dermatologist for my annual checkup.  I have to go every year since I had Melanoma a few years ago.  He checked me out all over.  All over.  Told me I looked great.  Asked me how I felt about spots on my face.  I told him he already said I looked great, so I didn't understand the question.  His nurse laughed.  Then he froze off six or so spots, took my money, and told me he would see me next year. 

And all of that made me think about Jesus.

I need to take a good look at myself spiritually sometimes.  It is too easy to think I have it together.  That is one reason I like taking Communion.  Gives me a chance to reflect on me, Jesus, and my community of faith. 

Because I have had spiritual cancers that had to be cut out.  And just like melanoma, they could have killed me.  But they didn't because they were cut out.  But I check often to make sure they are not creeping back in to my life.

I am not really into the spiritual image game.  You know, trying to keep up the image.  I would rather be real.  I don't mind the scars, bumps, dark spots, and other harmless things.  Spiritual health, not spiritual image, is what matters to me.

But even if I am in a healthy place spiritually, I need to take care of the little things that can become big things.  So I watch my spiritual disciplines.  I have friends and family that hold me accountable.  Deal with small things so they do not become big things.

So I have these ugly places for a couple of weeks where things were taken care of on my face.  Sometimes my spiritual life looks that way too.  Reminds me I am not perfect but I am working on being who and what I should be.

It costs.  Spiritual health is not about being what I want, but what God wants.  And that means that sometimes I have to pay a price.  Though not like the price Jesus paid for me.

And I have to do my spiritual check up again and again.  Because Satan never stops.  Because God wants me to be more like his Son.  Because I am not there yet. 

Spiritual life lessons. 

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?