Saturday, June 30, 2012


When I was young, I had a great aunt named Maglia. She was from Italy. She wore all black since she was a widow. She tended the garden, which is where I usually saw her. I thought she was way cool, mostly because she was mysterious.

Maglia spoke no English (or wouldn't speak it.) However, Maglia knew a universal language.

"Cookie?" (she said this in English, not using the Italian "biscotti.") I never answered, "No." We would retreat to the kitchen.

God presents a similar mystery to me. We have tradition, value, cultural and language difficulties. I struggle while being intrigued at the same time. God's universal language begins with, "Love?"

I hope you will retreat into God's kitchen today to receive some love and to spread some around. Lord knows the world needs it.


"For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
    neither are your ways my ways,"
declares the
"As the heavens are higher than the earth,

    so are my ways higher than your ways
    and my thoughts than your thoughts.
10 As the rain and the snow

    come down from heaven,
and do not return to it

    without watering the earth
and making it bud and flourish,

    so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,
11 so is my word that goes out from my mouth:

    It will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire

    and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.
12 You will go out in joy

    and be led forth in peace;
the mountains and hills

    will burst into song before you,
and all the trees of the field

    will clap their hands.
13 Instead of the thornbush will grow the juniper,

    and instead of briers the myrtle will grow.
This will be for the
Lord's renown,
    for an everlasting sign,
    that will endure forever." Isaiah 55:8-13 (NIV)


This past Sunday, Jesus told us that our faith heals us, that we are freed from our suffering (Mark 5:21-34.) Belief leads to relief from suffering. In other words, trusting him yields freedom and life.

Suffering is inevitable for humans. Who does want to be healed?

I am bothered by a stream of Christianity that says that if we "like" Jesus, all our problems are solved. I am not sure that is the truth.

Faith/belief is an investment in following a man whom we cannot see, touch, or hear and who left a short life story filled with mystifying empty spaces. Following Christ is not for the faint-hearted and involves risk as well as trial-and-error. Faith is a gift from God that needs to be practiced in order to be powerful, which makes it a step into thin air that we trust as a net somewhere below. Following is way more than "liking" Jesus. As a matter of fact, we may NOT like Jesus during the process.

Following Jesus takes us through terrain of doubt, discovery, dreams, disillusionment, danger, detour, and denial.

Oddly, the route through random suffering is through following paths of chosen suffering.

Will you risk living today?

Thursday, June 28, 2012


I love the mission trip I went on this past week. I love working with youth and the people who love them.

In our devotions, I notice a trend that is as old as my ministry with youth (30+ years.) That is, youth and adults believe that parroting back answers is what is expected of a Christian. You get a "gold star," an affirmation by knowing the right answers.

Sorry, that is just not true. Our mileage in life as Christians comes from faith, an investment in trusting Christ. Facts/right answers certainly support our faith but cannot be a substitute of a living relationship with God.

Facts impress others. Faith expresses God. We are called to be God agents, not God libraries.

Will you be a parrot today or an attentive child to God?

God blesses those whose hearts are pure, for they will see God. Matthew 5:8 (NLT)

But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. 34 No more shall every man teach his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, 'Know the LORD,' for they all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, says the LORD. For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more." Jeremiah 31:33-34 (NIV)

Wednesday, June 27, 2012


Nora Ephron, a Hollywood screenwriter and director, died on June 26th. She understood the human condition well, judging by her movies

One of her quotations was, "Above all, be the heroine of your life, not the victim."

Male or female, I meet a lot of people who see themselves as continual victims of some sort. Victimhood is a choice. The more we choose it, the more it becomes our defining reality. However, the same is true about being a heroine or hero. It, too, can become a defining reality.

This does not mean that we have an inflated sense of self. Rather, we see that God has made us to thrive even as God does not make all circumstances go our way (and God does not, despite TV preacher talk.)

Faith or believing is our tapping into the power that is Christ's and owning it at all times in in all places. The situation may be ours but the power and vision for the future is Christ's. And Christ loves us. To believe "there's more" is heroic.

Will you be a victim or a heroine/hero today?

Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.
 Hebrews 10:23 (NIV)

There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called;
Ephesians 4:4 (NIV)

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Fresh Eyes

While on a mission trip this past week, I was asked to go to a site that was having trouble building a wheelchair ramp over an existing concrete step. The leader of the group was an accomplished worker but was stumped. I came and found a solution very quickly. However, in an instant, the owner of the mobile home got to thinking and came up with an even better idea.

So much of life improves with a pair of fresh eyes. We look at problems so long we lose imagination and see more "'problem" than "possibility." Yet, we are training not to ask for help. My friend was an exception and learned in life by admitting a need for fresh eyes. We both shared experiences in the construction/oil business where fresh eyes gave us an edge over others.

Are you willing to admit you are stumped? Do you see more problem and possibility?

Seek fresh eyes. 

There was a man named Nicodemus, a Jewish religious leader who was a Pharisee. After dark one evening, he came to speak with Jesus. "Rabbi," he said, "we all know that God has sent you to teach us. Your miraculous signs are evidence that God is with you."  Jesus replied, "I tell you the truth, unless you are born again, you cannot see the Kingdom of God."
John 3:1-3 NLT

Tuesday, June 12, 2012


Today, I will have been married to Christine for 42 years. We have been together for 44 years, since we were teenagers.  I look at her and she is still 18, the day we met. I married above my station and I am not sorry.

There is something to be said for sticking with something for a long time. At first, we try to control it. Often we quit at that stage because we cannot control our "project." If we stick around a while longer, it often takes control of us. Note that there is a lot of struggle so far and not a lot of bliss.

But then, the mist clears and no one gives a damn about controlling anything. The reward: love as we always imagined it.

This process works for marriage, child-rearing, recovery, weight loss, career, faith, hobby, talent, you name it.

The sooner we all let go, the sooner life in abundance shows up. I like life in abundance. Strive for the long haul. Practice letting go.

FYI, Jesus let go of control 2,000 years ago.

Christine, thank you. I love you.

At theEnd of the Day

I have played a game with myself lately. For over two months, I have listened to the TV and radio waiting for someone to say, "…at the end of the day." I have not been disappointed. I have heard this over-used phrase EVERY DAY. Usually, the phrase means something like, "The inevitable with still happen" or "Despite what is going on, so and so will rule the day." Basically, what is being stated is that the speaker knows how this will wind up. It's fate.

There is an ancient practice in Christian life that is powerful for any modern day man or woman who is bold enough to try it. At the end of the day, Christians have for centuries recollected or ran through the day they had. They saw the highs, the lows, and the times that maybe God checked in. Maybe, the times God seemed to have vanished. The moments that the person was noble, crude, hapless, savvy, or out-to-lunch. Recollectors saw things they would like to do differently next time and new habits in the making that would make a real difference from now on.  Remembered were situations to avoid and situations avoided that need to be faced. A clarity that only a little distance can give came into view. A glimmer of hope in a hopeless mess gave relief. A joyful moment that needs to be remembered and revisited was savored. Opportunities missed and those that where we acted too much in haste came into focus.

This is prayer. God is listening in. Encouraging, guiding, correcting and all the while loving.

Try it. God never grows tired of hearing you.