Sunday, December 18, 2016

Racial Reality

In this post I want to share with you, my readers, some words from my friend, Gordon Ferguson:

"It dawns on me that one reason I write is to cleanse my soul from the impact of the racial struggles in our national past.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Election Security

A majority of people on earth know that Americans go to the polls on Tuesday to elect a president. Around the world they are watching, because it is not business as usual. There is almost universal agreement that this has been the most contentious U.S. election in memory.  

Monday, September 26, 2016

Absolute Dependence

Friedrich Schleiermacher. Yes, I know. You never heard of him. He died in 1834. He is sometimes called the father of modern liberal theology.

The German theologian was on my mind a couple of weeks ago because I was teaching a class on the origins and content of liberal theology; not something I do that often. When I googled him to see if his name was showing up in any recent articles, oddly, there it was in a June 27 Washington Post article about Donald Trump. 

Monday, September 12, 2016

Be Listen

The following is an updated version of a MCM published some time ago

Sometimes we need a mind change to overcome a challenging circumstance like an illness or a loss. Sometimes we need a mind change to overcome an obstacle that could stop a good work. But very often we need a mind change because our minds are leading us to some wrong behavior.

James writes:My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry…” (James 1:19).

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Sharing My Password

This time last year, my mom ended her journey in this world and inherited the blessings promised to disciples of Jesus. Now I look forward to our reunion in the fullness of the Age to Come.
Shortly after her passing, I shared in this space how I found in her bedside drawer a very small piece of paper about the size of a post-it note on which she had written this:

Sunday, August 28, 2016

A Prank or a Plan?

From time to time I need a reminder of the point made seven years ago in the following Mind Change Moment:

Seven billion people now live on this planet. Each day they go in at least seven billion directions. There is no shortage of activity in our world. It is one busy place. But is there a plan? Is there any purpose behind the universe? Are we here for a reason? Did someone put us here who had a plan for our lives? When we ask such questions we are wrestling with one of the greatest philosophical and spiritual issues of all time.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Overcoming Disappointment

Life brings us some exhilarating moments as well as some tough disappointments. It is interesting to look at the latter word: dis-appointment. You thought you had an appointment with something good, encouraging or uplifting. But you were “dissed.” Disappointments are so hard to take that they are often  described as “bitter disappointments.”

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

"I Don't Deserve This"

Recently, I heard someone share a thought that is so valuable and helpful to me that I feel it must be passed on, and I have asked for her permission to share it with all of you.

Our sister in Christ shared about a particularly difficult patch of life that she and her husband had been through and how as different challenges mounted up, she thought of how many years they had sought to be faithful to God and how their lives surely demonstrated that faithfulness. But in the midst of the recent problems, she thought resentfully, “I don’t deserve this!” With that posture, she resisted efforts being made to bring resolution and help.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Conflict as Opportunity

While there are a few unusual people who seem to thrive on conflict, most of us would rather avoid it. We are attracted to things pleasant, and we look forward to happy interactions. Dread is the emotion that most of us feel in anticipation of conflict or before some planned time to resolve conflict. Some of you may be feeling it right now because of some situation in your life.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Too Much?

When I was first definitively diagnosed with MS twenty-six years ago it was a confirmation of what had been suspected ten years earlier by the second neurologist I saw because of my recurring symptoms. I was just 42 with still plenty of parenting left to do for our three daughters. I was involved in a busy ministry and trying to meet lots of needs. I had to wonder if God was giving me more than I could handle.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Unethical Amnesia

Several times recently I have seen the phrase “unethical amnesia.” I discovered that this refers to our human tendency to forget our own moral lapses and bad behavior, crowding them out of our minds with thoughts of what we do right.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Vending Machine Rage

Some years ago, the Journal of the American Medical Association published an article on “Vending Machine Rage.” It described fifteen injuries in a short period of time, three of them fatal, as a result of angry men kicking or rocking machines that had taken their money without dispensing the drink.  Maybe we can understand the injuries, but how about the fatalities?  In each case it seems the machines fell over on the men and crushed them.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Take a Break

We say a good deal in this space about overcoming because there are any number of health problems, relationship conflicts, financial challenges, and sundry other matters that threaten to push us back, press us down or just generally rob us of life. We need words, perspectives, thoughts and truths that help us continue and overcome. There is a lot heavy lifting for us.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Shocks and Aftershocks

At 6:58 p.m. on April 16, as thousands of people were doing what they normally do on a Saturday night and as tourists ready for dinner filled restaurants in towns along Ecuador’s Pacific coast, a 7.8-magnitude earthquake struck, changing thousands of lives forever.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

In Pursuit of Big Pain

James Baldwin, the great African-American novelist, essayist, playwright, and poet, once reflected on the pain the artist has to face, and wrote these words:

“And what is crucial here is that if it hurt you, that is not what’s important. Everybody’s hurt. What is important, what corrals you, what bullwhips you, what drives you, torments you, is that you must find some way of using this to connect you with everyone else alive. This is all you have to do it with. You must understand that your pain is trivial except insofar as you can use it to connect with other people’s pain…”*

Monday, April 11, 2016

A Turn of Events

I got my first set of golf clubs at age 11 after my dad had given up fishing and started taking me to the course. I fell in love with the game. It has now been 19 years since I have been able to play, but I still love watching on a day like Sunday when the pros were hitting their shots with the dogwoods and azaleas of Augusta National in the background.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Learn or Lose

 Recently, I counseled a person who was coming to grips with sinful behavior. The person felt sorry, foolish and embarrassed, very aware of damage done. But also, the “Let’s see how much I can beat myself” mode was kicking in. My advice was to reject that option in favor of the “Let’s see how much I can learn” mode. Yes, there  must be sorrow and repentance. But then there needs to be an acceptance of grace and a decision to learn from what happened so a better road can be taken going forward.

Monday, March 21, 2016

When It Does Seem Too Hard

I first want to thank those of you who commented on last week’s post and added many thoughtful comments. If you haven’t read what others said, it is not too late. You can go the “comment” section under “Hard”ly True.

But this week I want to respond to a comment that you will not read there. It was added and then removed by the person (I assume a mother) who posted it, but I was able to see it before she took it down. The pain she felt in her heart made it difficult for her to even write and then she must have decided she should not put it out there.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

"Hard"ly True

I remember sitting on our basement couch in Concord, Massachusetts, circa 1997 and writing out a simple description to sum up the challenge of life. Later on I did a message on what I had written. But that night on the couch I listed four points:

Monday, March 7, 2016

Days of Our Lives

A friend in California reminded me this week of a quote from Mark Twain: “The two most important days of your life are the day you were born, and the day you find out why.”

Monday, February 29, 2016

A Good Talking-To

In a sermon I heard on Sunday a good friend of mine spoke some about the biblical idea of talking to yourself. I thought of his words just an hour or so ago when I had misplaced my mobile phone and found myself talking to myself as I tried to retrace my path and locate that most indispensable of all items.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

“Alaxamenos Worships His God”

In 1857 workers were unearthing a building in Rome on the Palatine Hill which was once used by the infamous Caligula possibly as an imperial palace. As the work proceeded they came to a room where they found what may have been the first known depiction of the crucifixion in Christian worship. But the graffiti artist was no fan of Jesus.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Taming the Tongue

News out of the Netherlands is that the Dutch National Police force has begun training eagles to intercept small drones during an emergency, when another capture device might put people below at risk. Working with a raptor-training company called Guard from Above, they are teaching eagles to recognize small drones and swoop in and grab them with their powerful talons. The belief is that eagles might be used when rouge drones or those being intentionally used for nefarious purposes are presenting a security risk. (See video) .

Monday, January 25, 2016

Hanging on His Words

This week’s post was written by my wife, Sheila.

When I picked up my Bible today, my eyes fell on the following passage:

“Yet they [the chief priest, the teachers of the law and the leaders of the people] couldn’t find any way to do it [kill Jesus] because all the people hung on his words.” (Luke 19:48)

The statement that “all the people hung on his words” hit me. It seemed like a modern day idiom. I doubted that this is what it literally said. So, I asked my husband, Tom, “Is this an exact translation of the phrase ‘hung on his words’”? He looked it up and said, “Yes it is.”

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Lottery Fever

Last week the nationwide “Powerball” lottery in the U.S. was offering a jackpot that had grown to $1.5 billion.  That is $999 million plus another $501 million. That is a staggering number of millions. This largest jackpot in history drew tremendous publicity and sometimes long lines made up of ticket buyers.  If you live in the States, no doubt you heard about it.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Wonderfully Made and Full of Purpose

Every 60 seconds, 258 babies are born across the globe.  In the next hour that means there will be 15,480 new lives on earth. A year ago those would have just been interesting statistics. However, in one of those seconds and in one of those hours in November, one of those babies was our first grandchild. Most of our peers already have quite a collection, but this little girl was our first.