Sunday, September 7, 2014

Amazing Comfort

Yesterday Vickie and I went to a memorial service; it was in memory of a son a friend of ours lost - he died two weeks ago. During the service Patrick's mother, Sarah, came to the front to address those gathered; among them were Patrick's brother, his sister, his father, and friends from childhood to the present day. 

Sarah began by saying, "I want you all to be comforted." She proceeded to talk of the love and grace of our Lord Jesus and of Christ being with Patrick through his many struggles. Her words no doubt prepared the way for Dulany Washington, a long-time pastoral friend, to bring a message of hope and challenge in Jesus Christ. 

It was amazing to hear our friend Sarah, in the midst of her own pain and shock, concerned that those gathered before her would be comforted and would come to know Jesus Christ. 

Friday, September 5, 2014

You Could Have Had a Nice Time

I was talking to my friend Stan who just got back with his wife from visiting his son’s family in Croatia. Just before they left his wife accepted a new job that required a move, just before they left they sold their home and purchased another. The new job and the move were both scheduled to occur just days after their return.

Stan said, “Judy had a great time in Croatia. I had a good time too but I kept thinking about both houses closing and the move – so I worried while we were gone. When we got back everything fell into place, God can make it all so easy – my worry was for nothing.”

“Yeah,” I replied, “I worry about things too, always have. I think when I get to heaven that Jesus might say, “You know Bob, you could have had a really nice time down there. You didn’t have to worry.”

Matthew 6:25 – 34.

Thursday, September 4, 2014


Jeremiah 6:22, “Thus says Yahweh: Behold a people comes from the north country, and a great nation will be raised from the farthest parts of the earth. They will lay hold on bow and spear; they are cruel and have no mercy…”

I think of Biblical images of cruelty when I think of conflicts across the world; cruelty that shocks many, cruelty that propagates fear, cruelty that produces paralysis. Is there so much cruelty and violence in our own entertainment and manner of life, is there such a degree of callousness, that we no longer possess the collective will to respond when cruelty is perpetrated on others…whether at home or abroad?

We speak of “national interest”, but if the defense of the defenseless is not in our moral and ethical national interest then what is? To acquiesce in evil is moral suicide.

Disable a ship’s rudder and it is at the mercy of the ocean’s currents; destroy a nation’s morality and it is at the mercy of current events. We have no strategy, we have no vision, for we have no morals, no character, no virtue. We cannot resist cruelty for we have no foundation for courage.

“Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some…[will have] their own conscience seared with a hot iron,” 1 Timothy 4. While the context of this verse is “departing from the faith”, if those associated with faith fall away and have such consciences, what about the rest of society? And as Peter writes in his first letter, if judgment begins with the house of God, what of those who reject the Gospel?

Cruelty is frightening when it ceases to stir courage. A nation without a moral backbone can no longer stand up straight. 

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Victoria Osteen

Did Victoria Osteen say something we didn’t already know and practice? Or was her misstep the fact that she was blatant about the fact that we attend church for our own benefit, in order to have our needs and wants satisfied?

Where are the churches that preach and practice the self-denial of the Cross of Christ and the laying down of one’s life for others?

Yes, in Jesus Christ we can have fullness and fulfillment – but we find that when we obey His commandments, we find that when He is the center of our lives.

Let’s give Mrs. Osteen an “A” for honesty. 

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

The Stock Market as a Measure of Society?

Turn on the news and you’re sure to get an update on the financial markets. At the end of the day you are guaranteed to be told how the DOW finished the day, how many winners and losers there were, and how many shares were traded.

I’d like to know how many hungry people were fed, how many homeless were sheltered, how many unemployed found jobs with wages that can support their families, and how many uninsured found medical treatment. I’d also like to know how many abandoned elderly were visited and cared for, how many families escaped abortion, and how many children found safe homes.

When economics becomes the measure by which all other things are measured, everything is for sale: government, church, synagogue, mosque, temple, education, ethics, morality, heath care…life. Indeed, when economics becomes the benchmark then the entire nation and its people are for sale.

Monday, September 1, 2014

World War I and the Middle East Today, and other Observations

It is ironic that in August 1914 World War I began and in August 2014 we are reaping the fruit of post-World War I decision making by the Allies at Versailles. Britain and France wanted parts of the Ottoman Empire so they created artificial nations over whom they planned to exert influence. So much for influence; short-term gain often results in long-term pain.

The American founding fathers avoided dealing with slavery; they took the expedient way out. Their gift was not only untold suffering by African-Americans, it was also the gift of the Civil War. Short-term gain, in this case avoidance, often results in long-term pain (pain which we are still suffering).

One difference between Vladimir Putin and the West is that Putin believes in something, whether we call it a Greater Russia, or self-deification; the West doesn’t believe in anything worth dying for – or perhaps anything worth jeopardizing its economy for. The Russians have a high threshold for pain, the mantra of the West is to avoid pain – we are a culture of self-medication (no wonder we have a therapeutic church!)

One society may be in authoritarian shackles; another society may be in the shackles of pleasure and hedonism – I think it might be easier to find God through pain than pleasure.