The Best Seat in The House

I have this wonderful wooden box filled with cards.  It is great fun to open it and shuffle through old driver’s licenses, (I actually liked my picture on one of them). There are ID cards from the Massachusetts Teacher’s Association, the Audubon Society, Atlantic Union College, Fitchburg State University, Quinnsigamund College and many more.  One of my favorites is a complementary pass for me and a guest to Boston Red Sox games.  I can go in and sit anywhere until the rightful ticket holder shows up.  Then I have to move to another empty seat.  Sometimes I used to sit right behind home plate and no one would come and bump me out.  It is difficult to understand why someone would let a seat like that go empty.  But then again there are seats in heaven’s throne room for everyone and thousands will let it go empty.  What a waste!
It’s a waste of life and opportunity.  It’s a waste of intellect and creativity.  It’s a waste of happiness and fulfillment. God is in the business of saving people He will make every effort and use every tactic available to woo people into the Kingdom.  But there are some hard-nosed folk who will resist and resist until they no longer hear the pleading voice beckoning them to come.
Revelation 3:21 says, “To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I was victorious and sat down with my Father on his throne.”   Now that is a seat no one in their right mind would ever want to miss.  Please come with me.  I promise I will cheer and shout your name the day I see you sitting with Jesus.  How very grand!

The M&M

I dropped an M&M on the floor – a red one.  I had 2 seconds to retrieve it.  But I was slow on the draw.  Locating it and bending over took at least twice that amount of time.  But wait, I was still within the 5 second rule.   Should I or should I not?  If it had been a brussel sprout would I have even pondered?  Dropping it would have been a boon.  I would not have to eat it.  But this was an M&M.  It had that crispy coating over that amazing drop of chocolate.  This was not a Brussel Sprout this was a tragedy, unless the 5 second rule applied.
Ah, the intrigue and power of rationalization.  Now, I know that bacteria are transferred instantly onto a fallen object, that is if it lands on the bacteria.  But what if this was a clean place on the floor?   And research does show that a full minute on the floor will contaminate the fallen object ten times as much over that of an object retrieved within 5 seconds.
Was I about to risk my health anymore than if I ate a bowl of ice cream?  I have no idea who sneezed at the ice cream factory or the health of the scooper/server at Friendly’s. Is anything we eat really clean?  And furthermore just this morning I received a huge dose of antibodies.  I mean huge.  It took four hours to run it through a tiny needle into my arm.  (I have to do this once a month – aftermath of many kinds of chemo.)  Right now at this very moment I am as safe from disease as I will ever be.
More importantly – this relates to so many other aspects of right and wrong.

The Woodpecker

We have a hairy woodpecker in our yard that deserves to be reported to the National Audubon Society as an endangered individual.  He must think it’s Halloween because all morning he has been knocking on my back door and flying away when I answer.  No sooner do I sit down than he is back knocking, knocking, knocking.  It was cute the first two or three times but really enough is enough.  I feel like I am trapped inside an Edgar Allan Poe poem.  “While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping, as of someone gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.”  We can call this one, “The Woodpecker.”
Jesus said, “Behold I stand at the door and knock.”  However, quite to the contrary He doesn’t run away when we answer.  But He is just as, or even more so, persistent as our woodpecker. He never had to chase me.  I have loved Jesus as long as I can remember, but I have known persons who were persistently chased, courted, harassed and beleaguered by the Holy Spirit, who would not let them go.
Just before His death Jesus sat on the Mount of Olives looking over Jerusalem and He mourned, “How often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing.”  The truth is we are loved and God is just not willing for us to perish. “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some men count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.”  II Peter 3:9.
And so He continually knocks, raps, taps at the front door, side door and backdoor of our hearts.  He really wants in and will never fly away.

Our “Primest” Prime

It only lasted one day.  A heavy rain stripped bright yellow and red leaves from their summer branches and blanketed our lawn.  For twenty-four hours we had the most magnificent carpet anyone one could imagine.  The leaves had not yet begun to dry.  They were lush and pliable.  Walking on them was like being in an enchanted land of colors that dazzled with each step.  Jackson Pollock would have sacrificed a year of his life to have produced something so unworldly.  Van Gogh would have cut off his other ear to have added such beauty to his portfolio.  Could I have preserved it I could have become a rich man by charging people to see it.  But the next day it was diminished.  Its prime was past.
I was tempted to write that it was like people.  We have a prime and then it is gone.  Rarely are we aware when that prime is.  We just wake up one morning and look in the mirror and be it ever so subtle we are not the same. Every day that follows steals a bit more.  We are pilfered by time. But unlike my gorgeous carpet which will never be again, we have a “primer” prime awaiting us.  We will never reach our “primest” because each day will bring yet more vitality and beauty.
Paul wrote, “Just as we have borne the image of the earthly man, so shall we bear the image of the heavenly man.”  I Corinthians 15:49.   A sperm and an egg are not much to look at but put them together and the splendor of a baby is.  A wrinkled old man is not much to look at but unite him with Jesus and the grandeur that will forever grow “primer” and “primer” is beyond words.

No More Cursive

Many schools no longer teach cursive.  Children are so keyboard literate it seems the only use for cursive is to sign one’s name.  I always despised penmanship class.  We had to make endless ovals which for me always looked like a tornado on its side as the ovals got progressively smaller as they approached the right hand side of the page.  Paul had Tertius write for him.  However he did write the closing lines in his letters.  “I, Paul, write this greeting in my own hand, which is the distinguishing mark in all my letters.  This is how I write.”  2 Thessalonians 3:17.
I wonder how much Paul would have left us had he a computer.  It does seem that we are missing one of his letters to Corinth.  Many scholars believe II Corinthians should be III Corinthians.  Had he the tools to send out a thousand emails each evening I’m sure we would have lots of details regarding his adventurous travels spreading the Good News.  I wish we knew more about Tertius.  Was he merely a recorder or did they discuss the wording of passages in Romans?
I am most grateful to be able to use modern technology to tell you how much Jesus loves you.  My sorrow is my lack of grasping the deeper things, the mysteries, of which Paul speaks. His mind was amazing.  Romans 5, 6, 7 and 8 make my mind swirl with an attempt to grasp Paul’s depth.  Even Peter speaks of struggling to understand.  See II Peter 3:16.
Suffice it to say we are thankful to know the basics.  We are sinners.  Jesus’ death enables the Father to lavish us with grace and we are saved.   That’s enough for now.  Probably would be enough forever, but more we shall know.

“Ticks on Toast”

One of the greatest things that ever happened to us was moving to Africa.  Instantly we were surrounded by birds and animals we previously had only read about or had seen in documentaries.  The best thing of all was all the new people.  We had colleagues from all over the world and quickly learned all manner of cultural quirks.  One of our South African families loved stewed raisins or as the husband called “Ticks on Toast.”  I was reminded a few minutes ago when I found a swollen tick on my dog.
Ticks are the perfect parasite. They are blood suckers that leave nothing behind but disease and scars.  I just finished Googling the question, “What good are ticks?”  The answer I found seemed like a stretch to try and say something positive about the creepy little monsters.
So now comes the part when I apply this to people because there are tick people among us.  These are the takers that rarely, if ever, give back.  Their purpose seems to be that they are opportunity givers.  They give the rest of us opportunities to develop our characters by giving to them and tolerating them.  They are the negative people that suck the energy out of a room and leave behind a depression that makes us wish we had not been around them. 
Now why should I bother to write about such a depressing topic?  It gives me the opportunity to tell you that Jesus loves them as much as he loves us.  Always remember Hebrews 7:25, “He is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever lives to make intercession for them.”  Do I sound smug?  Jesus even loves me with my smugness. He knows I’m working on it.

“In Uncle Sam We Trust”

One of my students told me he didn’t believe in anything that wasn’t tangible. I took a twenty dollar bill and a one dollar bill out of my wallet and asked, “If I gave you the opportunity to have one of these, which would you take?”  He reached for the twenty.  “But why,” I asked.  “They are both the same size and the same weight.  Intrinsically there is absolutely no difference other than the configurations of ink.”  He answered something like, “One is twenty times more valuable than the other.”
Really?  Who says?  All of us do.  This is only true because we have agreed that is so.  One piece of paper is worth more than another piece of paper only because we put our faith in our monetary system. The actual material value of each is less than a penny.  Yet, with one I can purchase a half gallon of gasoline and with the other I can purchase about nine gallons of gas.  This only works as long as we continue to believe we can.  Once we stop believing, the system collapses and chaos ensues.
Our money says “In God we trust” when actually it is “In Uncle Sam we trust.”  Whether my young friend understood or not, he is a creature of faith.  We all are.  So why not take the next step and have faith in the God who made us?  Psalm 33:6 says, “By the word of the LORD the heavens were made, their starry host by the breath of his mouth.”  Our earth and the starry host had to come from somewhere.  It is much more intellectually satisfying to believe they are the work of a loving Creator than because of some accidental explosion.  And where did the stuff that exploded come from?

What Is V8 Juice?

If we were playing Jeopardy the answer would be “a blend of tomatoes, carrots, celery, beets, parsley, lettuce, watercress and spinach.”  And the question would be “What is V8 juice?”   I have always loved V8 juice.  I think it’s good for us.  At least it can’t be bad for us except that it does contain a lot of salt.
My home church is much like V8.  It is a mixture of all manner of people.  We have people from all over the world.  Just recently we were able to count at least 17 different nationalities.  I do admit sometimes I struggle to understand everyone’s English flavored with very unique accents.  And I know they often struggle to understand my vanilla flavored English. 
Worshipping with such a conglomeration expands my sense of God’s family.  I hear new ideas growing out of different cultures.  Sometimes I am tempted to think my ideas and my preferences are the best but a morning at church helps me get over that myopic condition.  The variety makes my church a strong church.  It wouldn’t be nearly as interesting if everyone thought and acted like me.
Paul wrote in I Corinthians 12:12, “Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ.”  The wonder of strength through diversity is not a new idea.  It is a time proven concept.  Just as my church is strong because of diversity so is my country.  Each person with their uniqueness brings ideas, talents and strengths to the whole.  Heaven will be a marvelous place filled with beings not only from our little planet but from the expanse of the universe.   I can hardly wait to see what is waiting for us.


I have a couple of undergrads in one of my classes who can dunk a basketball.  Upon learning of their athletic skills I assured them that I too can dunk, no, not a doughnut, a real basketball.  They immediately acclaimed that I could indeed as long as the basket and supporting pole were manufactured by Fisher Price.  It’s nice to be respected!
But hey, a dunk is a dunk.  So, never say never.  We can always make a few adjustments and accomplish wonders.  Too be honest, we have to concede that the adage, “If you can dream it, you can do it” is not really true in this life.  Only if one is committed to Jesus will that be true.  That is the wonder of the Gospel.  All things in our lives are possible if we look beyond this fragile, flawed body that is overdue for a total makeover.  Never forget I Corinthians 15.  It is the greatest passage ever written about the resurrection and the transformation of the living when Jesus returns.  If you haven’t read it recently treat yourself to a reread.  Paul is at his best as he fills us in on what Jesus filled him in on.
A person is only as good as his promises.  That’s what makes God what He is – honest, pure and good.  He keeps His promises – all of them!  So go ahead and dream big.  I think I will add something new to my dream list of to-dos.  I will someday dunk a basketball when the basket and pole are not made by Fisher Price.
“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us.”  Ephesians 3:20

Acorns in My Pocket

The acorns being crushed as one drives in and out of our driveway sound like we are making popcorn. The oaks must have enjoyed the dry summer because we have an abundance of acorns.  The squirrels are going crazy trying to cache them away for the coming winter.  They will be well fed during this January’s blizzards. 
I love acorns. Holding them in my hand reminds me of one of my favorite quotes from one of my favorite authors.  She wrote, “As surely as the oak is in the acorn so surely is the gift of God in the promise.”  There are over 3500 promises in the Bible.   That’s a forest of good things to anticipate.  One of the last promises found in Revelation says, “He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be my son.”  I don’t want to be greedy.  I don’t need to inherit “all” things.  I will be happy with forgiveness and eternal life with my loved ones.  But our heavenly Father is a lavish giver.  That’s a promise in Ephesians 2.   God isn’t content with giving us the basics.  He wants to give us “all things.” 
Paul says what we will receive is beyond what we can now imagine.  The Gospel is a story of excess.  Excessive love, excessive forgiveness, excessive lifespan, excessive health, excessive intelligence, excessive power, excessive understanding and excessive happiness are just a few of the things we are promised.  
Right now I am going to go out to my driveway and pick up a few oak trees and carry them about in my pocket today.  Then I will not forget how very much you and I are loved.  Oh, how grand!