Sunday, December 14, 2014

Appreciating You

Most of you opened an email to get to this post. You may have dozens of others sitting in your inbox, but you opened this one. Most of you do it every Monday morning. I want to take a moment just to tell you that I don’t take you for granted. I appreciate you.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Seek First to Understand

My friend, Jack Frederick, recently posted a piece on Facebook reflecting on the current racial tension in the US. I want to share some portions of it with you. As you read, please know that Jack and his wife, who are white, have reached out to people of different races for many years. Jack has made sacrifices to teach in many inner city schools and Historic Black Colleges. He walks the talk. This is a longer post than readers are used to in this space, but there are times when more is needed.

“Seek first to understand, then to be understood” (one of Stephen Covey’s “7 Habits of Highly Effective People.”)

I want to speak frankly and honestly in humility; I will make mistakes and be misunderstood so I ask you to hear my words with kindness and grace. I’m searching like many to understand. I ask that you please not respond to this as a political statement; it is not. I’m not telling you ‘how it is’, I do not have the answers, I’m just wrestling like you are.

Monday, December 1, 2014

How Much for a Hug?

The following is from Sheila's blog "My Bucket of Sand."

Do you remember seeing a YouTube video of a man on a busy sidewalk holding a sign offering “Free Hugs”? At first people were skeptical and ignored him. Then a few people took him up on his offer and found it was a bargain. They took/gave a hug, and they cashed in on a surge of serotonin. They replenished their “happy hormone.” (

Sunday, November 23, 2014

In the Presence of Faith

And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. (Romans 8:38,  NLT).

Today I spent some time with a brother who has so recently been through the darkest of times. Probably twenty years my junior, with a daughter in her early twenties, he sat with his wife for five weeks as she lay in a coma. And then he said good bye to his precious life partner.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

A Bruised Reed He Will Not Break

For the next few weeks I want to look at few of the passages that some of you shared two weeks ago to encourage our friend.  The first is from Isaiah 42, especially verse 3:

1“Here is my servant, whom I uphold,
my chosen one in whom I delight;
I will put my Spirit on him,
and he will bring justice to the nations.
2He will not shout or cry out,
or raise his voice in the streets.
3A bruised reed he will not break,
and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out.
In faithfulness he will bring forth justice…

Sunday, November 9, 2014

God Has Not Given You Too Much (Trouble)

This is a Mind Change Moment Encore from 2007

She has suffered from so many debilitating and challenging physical problems that you need a scorecard to keep track. Her battle with diabetes caused her to lose her vision. She had kidney failure, regular dialysis and finally a kidney transplant. She has had at least two surgeries for cancer. Her schedule for doctors’ appointments in a month sounds like a fulltime job. Her husband has good health and a career, but is at her side when not working, and he empathizes and suffers vicariously with her.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Asking for Your Help

Today I am writing to ask for your help. We have a friend in Christ who has just been diagnosed with advanced stage cancer. The prognosis is not good. I know she would be encouraged to hear a thought or a Scripture from many of you who have also faced dark or uncertain times.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Finish Strong

by Sheila Presley Jones

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” (Hebrews 12:1)
Gabriela ("Gaby") Andersen-Schiess ran in the women’s marathon in the 1984 Olympics. Twenty minutes after the winner, Joan Benoit, crossed the finish line, Gaby staggered into the stadium. The crowd gasped in horror and disbelief when they saw her. Something was evidently wrong—badly wrong.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Minds and Hearts

We talk often here about making a mind change and how that can make a big difference in our lives. But what is the relationship between a mind change and a heart change?

Certainly, the two are closely related. Sometimes to make one, you also have to make the other. Sometimes making one enables you to make the other. Sometimes they are almost indistinguishable.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Processing a Loss

This will be different. Today I find it hard to write. I want to affirm my faith in God the Father, my appreciation for the love of the Son, and my gratitude for the power of the Spirit,  and yet, I am nearly paralyzed by sadness. I want to say something meaningful. But I feel empty and numb. Perhaps you can allow me to try to figure some things out.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Creating Our Own Celebrity?

“In our world of social media, people create their own celebrity.” (Brandon Stanton, author of Humans of New York, in an interview on public radio).

“It’s not about you.” (the title of the sermon I heard on Sunday).

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Out of the Silence

Some say that most the recognizable voice in America is that of 83-year-old James Earl Jones. Some of us know that voice from Star Wars and the character Darth Vader. Others know the voice from Mufasa in Disney’s The Lion King. Still others know Jones from his roles in The Great White Hope, Field of Dreams or countless other movies or plays. For many years we heard him say, “This is CNN.”

Monday, September 22, 2014

To Move or Not to Move

“There are many ways of going forward, but only one way of standing still.”  --Franklin D. Roosevelt

This last week we watched the PBS airing of the latest Ken Burns documentary, this one on the lives of Theodore, Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt and the remarkable time in history when they were in positions of power and influence in the United States.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Feeding Fear or Faith

"Worry isn't the same as fear—it’s the practice of indulging fear, clinging to it, feeding & serving it."  Tweet from @ivpress, 9/11/14

Worry and fear are often related and both can have negative effects on our lives. But it helps to think some things through here so we don’t add some unnecessary guilt to an already poisonous cocktail.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Praying for Peace

As I write these words, a very shaky ceasefire is seemingly holding in Ukraine between pro-Russian separatists and the government forces. In the last twenty years the good news of the Kingdom of God has spread in that country and there are many disciples there, both in the more stable west and the conflicted east.

Monday, September 1, 2014

In the Air of His Loyalty

For I am ever aware of your faithfulness,
And your loyalty continually motivates me. (Psalm 26:3, NET Bible)
The NET Bible is the only translation done primarily to be accessed through the Internet. It also may have the most extensive footnotes of any translation. If you click on the footnote to the second line of this passage, you learn that the Hebrew more literally says “I walk about in your loyalty.”

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Choosing Empathy

Certain words represent opposite ends of a continuum. Let me suggest these two: division and empathy. Now let me mention an event: the shooting and killing of a young black man by a policeman in Ferguson, Missouri. Anybody paying attention to the news last week knows the tragic incident has been divisive.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

An Epidemic of Kindness from a BIGG Change

Last week I wrote about how the homeless in my city have inspired me. Let me tell you about someone else who has done that.

Not long ago Chris Rosati was diagnosed with ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease, an illness given much press by the recent ice bucket challenge so many are taking.  It is a devastating illness. Several years ago I watched it ravage a friend’s body and end his life.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Gratitude from the Homeless

Two days ago, my wife and I bought a street newspaper, sold mostly by the homeless. On the front page where I usually see articles about the poor or inadequate housing, was a headline that read “Attitude of Gratitude.” Inside were thirty expressions of  thanksgiving mostly by those who are homeless or homeless until recently. Two things struck me: (1) It is mid-summer and not the “Thanksgiving” season. (2) You don’t expect such expressions from homeless people.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

5,500 miles; 15 years

On Monday, we drove four hours for a rendezvous with our daughter and her husband. They offered two possible places for dinner. Having made our choice, we drove about seven minutes to our destination. 

Monday, July 28, 2014

"I Hear Your Prayer"

The following is a Mind Change Moment Encore

A few days ago an old friend shared with me what he had been reading from Psalm 143.  Two days later as I was encouraging another friend, I turned to the words that had been shared with me and again the power of Scripture was seen. Moved by this result, I decided to spend time every morning for a week focusing on this passage.

Saturday, July 19, 2014


SBNR--”Spiritual but not religious”--is a new category being used by pollsters as they survey religious attitudes and commitment. An article in the New York Times this week describing some of the attention this group is getting, caught my eye.

Monday, July 14, 2014

When Weakness Isn't Weak

In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express (Romans 8:26).

We do not like to feel weak. We especially don’t like to feel spiritually weak, but that is exactly what we experience when we struggle to pray or do not know what to pray. As we find ourselves in spiritual weakness it not uncommon to hear from somewhere: “You just don’t measure up.” If we believe that, then we may find ourselves feeling distance from God.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

7 Ways to Improve Your Prayer Life

These days the way to get eyeballs seems to be to write headlines like these real ones I just pulled off the Web:
  • 15 Ways to Stay Productive over the Summer
  • 20 of the Worst Marriage Proposals Ever
  • 10 Ways to Find More Space at Home
  • 4 Perfect Yoga Poses for the 4th of July (what?)
  • 6 Snacking Habits that Could Help You Lose Weight
  • 11 Tips for Writing Killer Headline Titles

Sunday, June 29, 2014

It Should Not, but It Does

“The universe shouldn't exist — at least according to a new theory. Modeling of conditions soon after the Big Bang suggests the universe should have collapsed just microseconds after its explosive birth, the new study suggests.” So begins a story reported on NBC News.  Those conducting experiments and doing the study found the newborn universe "should have experienced an intense jittering" that made its collapse inevitable.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

The Forgiveness Project

Earlier this week as I taught a class on the title of my book The Baptized Life, we looked at the topic of baptism and forgiveness. I pointed out that living the baptized life means living a life of joy that comes from God’s forgiveness of us and a life of showing forgiveness to others. It is forgiving others as God in Christ has forgiven us (Ephesians 4:32).

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Darkness and Light

I follow a rather famous person on Twitter because he, like me, has MS. Let me share three of his recent tweets:

Number 1: Time off. On Cape Cod. Needed sun.Warmth.Got rain. Freezing. Shivering. Great way to relax. Are you kidding me? This is why I am an atheist.

Number 2: The search for peace is heartbreaking.  No road maps. Little reason for hope.  We cannot go home again.  Who can?  Life can be so sad.

Sunday, June 8, 2014


Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret... (2 Cor. 7:10)

Regret. Regretful. Filled with regret. Burdened by regret. Those are not pleasant words or phrases, but they describe a fact of many people’s lives. Forbes magazine took a shot at describing the 25 Biggest Regrets in Life. It may be instructive to consider a list like this, but sometimes it is other “smaller” regrets that eat away at us.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Still I Rise

This week saw the passing of an inspirational American icon. A black child of divorce, raped at age eight in the Jim Crow South, mute from then until she was 13, pregnant at 17 in San Francisco, Maya Angelou found herself in poverty and crime. But she would rise. Before her death, she would write seven autobiographies, become a prolific poet, teach university courses, influence presidents and the powerful, and receive more than 30 honorary doctorates.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

A Place for Doubt

I have just finished reading a book written by a well-known author in Christian circles in which he is extremely open about his doubts. He reminds his readers that doubt is common, and processing doubts is all a part of a life of faith. He is getting lots of positive comments because of his honesty.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Trump Card

This is a Mind Change Moment Encore

According to The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, here is the definition of a trump card: “the suit designated as having precedence over the others. In general, it is something capable of making a decisive difference when used at the right moment as in ‘The prosecutor played her trump card by calling a surprise witness.’”

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Pascal's Prayer

In a bookstore 43 years ago I picked up a copy of the Pensées by Blaise Pascal. Pascal was a brilliant mathematician, physicist and inventor, but these were his thoughts about life and God. Years later, I came across a prayer he wrote as he dealt with physical challenges that would take his life before he reached age 40. It has guided my own thoughts and prayers and I want to share it here:        

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Twitter Thinking

I am not a social network power user. I confess to doing a bit of lurking on my wife’s Facebook account. I do have a LinkedIn account, but the main thing I do with it is accept others’ invitations. Maybe some of you can tell me how to better use it.

I know nothing about Instagram though I have an app for it on my phone, and have no interest in something call Pinterst. However, there is one site I go to daily and that is Twitter. It has taken me some time to find people to follow who give me good food for thought; along the way I some how have accumulated over 500 followers.  

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Deny Selfies

By the end of 2012, Time magazine considered “selfie” one of the top 10 buzzwords of the year. By 2013 “selfie” was Oxford Dictionary’s Word of the Year.

A few weeks ago I took my first “selfie” to send to one our daughters who lives in South America. Thanks to “WhatsApp” you can easily send pictures, texts and even videos instantly all over the world. Recently the Boston Red Sox were in the news (as well as in some trouble) for a selfie taken by David Ortiz with President Obama. Ellen DeGeneres broke the retweeting record recently with her group selfie taken at the Academy Awards.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Not Forsaken

God has said,
“Never will I leave you;
    never will I forsake you.”

So we say with confidence,
“The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid.
    What can mere mortals do to me?”
Hebrews 13:5b-6

Last week Chinese family members of missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 received a text message from the Malaysian government telling them that the plane went down in the Indian Ocean and that all were lost. This particularly blunt and impersonal message, which reportedly was also poorly translated into Chinese, left these people stunned and angry.

Sunday, March 23, 2014


Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our “God is a consuming fire”f (Hebrews 12:27-28).

In December 1972 a friend of mine who worked as an international representative was in Nicaragua on a business assignment when a major earthquake hit the capital of Managua. He fled his hotel room to seek safety in the street. 6000 died. A few months later another major quake rocked a city in Italy. My friend was probably the only person in the world in both quakes. Again he found himself escaping from his hotel into the street as buildings collapsed. He was shaken in more ways that one.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Russia and Ukraine

Sunday morning I noticed that my friend and brother, Jack Frederick, had posted something on Facebook that I believe needs to be shared with others. Here is a slightly condensed version of Jack’s post.

Please remember the disciples in Russia and Ukraine during the troubling times in Crimea. And I say to all whom I love in these two nations, I am praying for you and I plead with you to keep your eyes fixed on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith (Heb 12:1-3). The hearts of your brothers and sisters are with you; you are our family and you are precious to us.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Bitter to Sweet

See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many. (Hebrews 12:15)
I painfully remember a time in my life, though it was a long time ago, when I had grown bitter. I don’t think I recognized at the time what my condition really was. I suspect I would have recoiled at the word “bitter,” but it manifested itself in a lot of complaining, blaming and other forms of negativity. Indeed, I was bitter.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Even Though

At times on my journey of faith, there have been moments when I have wondered, are we just fooling ourselves? Is it crazy to talk about being secure in our faith? After all, there are so many things we don’t understand. There are so many pieces we can’t explain and so many questions we can’t answer. At such times, I find a passage from the Letter to the Hebrews gives a needed insight:

Sunday, February 23, 2014

The Power of Team

The closing ceremony for the Sochi Olympic Games were held last night and so we conclude our short series from The Heart of a Champion with the chapter on the famous "Miracle on Ice."

Team USA, Hockey, 1980 Olympic Games

When Coach Herb Brooks envisioned the 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team, he did not see the world’s best individual hockey players. He saw team. He had only seven months to forge that team.

Many Olympic hockey teams, most notably the 1980 Soviet team, had been playing together for years. Described by sports writers as a “machine,” the Soviet team had dominated Olympic hockey for 16 years, even defeating the National Hockey League All-Stars in a 1979 exhibition.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Determination That Defeats Discouragement

With the Winter Olympics going on in Sochi, Russia, we are running chapters from the 1996 DPI book The Heart of a Champion. Here is the second of these. We will conclude next week with the famous "Miracle on Ice" in Lake Placid in 1980.

Lis Hartel , Equestrian, Denmark

 It was 1944. Lis Hartel, a 23-year-old equestrian, was pregnant when she received devastating news: She had polio, a feared crippler. As a result, this young woman with great ambitions was left almost entirely paralyzed. Who, in her shoes, would not have felt discouraged? But Lis Hartel was a determined woman. She refused to surrender to this cruel disease and began an intense physical therapy program. Slowly, through tedious training she began to regain use of her arms and, later, her legs.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

The Race Marked Out for Us

Eighteen years ago with the Olympics about to be held in Atlanta,  DPI published a book of devotions based on twenty-eight people or events in Olympic history. With the Winter Olympics being held now in Sochi, Russia, we will reprint two complete chapters from that book, The Heart of a Champion. Here, this week, is the first.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Soul Security

I recently completed teaching an online class on the Letter to the Hebrews. For a few weeks I am sharing thoughts that came from this study.

“We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, where our forerunner, Jesus, has entered on our behalf.” (Hebrews 6:19-20).

Security is a human need. We make a good many moves trying to find it. We act in various ways because we do not have it.  We look for it in social approval, as in having lots of people like us.  Some look for it in fame... in athletics, music, the arts. People who are my age tend to put a lot of emphasis on finances and wealth accumulation as they move into the retirement years.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Receiving Challenge

"We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised." Hebrews 6:12 (NIV)
I am rereading a book that a friend and I wrote more than 15 years ago on pride and humility. I am often being convicted by my own words (and his). I just read there how pride and humility respond so differently to correction or admonishment. And then I look at this statement: “We don’t want you to become lazy…” And I ask, how did “the Hebrews” respond to this? How do we respond to it?

Sunday, January 19, 2014

God's Good and Gracious Memory

I recently completed teaching an online class on the Letter to the Hebrews. For a few weeks I am sharing thoughts that came from this study.

God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them.” (Hebrews 6:10)

We decide to be followers of Jesus. We experience some joys and blessings mixed with some promised challenges.  We stay faithful over the years, but then experience some really severe trials, and we wonder. We wonder where God is or if God has forgotten our commitment and service. Our confidence is shaken a bit. That must have been the experience of those receiving the Letter to the Hebrews, and so much so that they were thinking about leaving Jesus.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Because We Have Jesus

I recently completed teaching an online class on the Letter to the Hebrews. For a few weeks I am sharing thoughts that came from this study.
"It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age and who have fallen away, to be brought back to repentance..."(Hebrews 6:4-6).
Within this passage is a most positive message that we often overlook because it includes some troubling and disturbing words that we wrestle with. While there  is no doubt that the author means this as sober warning to readers who may have been in danger of leaving Jesus, he sets up his comments by reminding them of what we have because we have Jesus, and these are powerful thoughts that need our attention.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Gifts for the Mind

A trio of ideas came my way this week—all good ones for beginning a new year. So, I want to take a break from my thoughts from the Letter to the Hebrews and pass these helps on to you.