The afternoon sun was low behind the grandpa and his grandson. They were enjoying their long shadows on the sidewalk. Both of them were very tall. Jumping in front of grandpa, the little boy noted with great joy that he and grandpa had become one. Thus they stayed as one as long as they were aligned. Soon the six-year-old saw the fun of sticking out his arms and laughing as their shadow sprouted four arms.
Psalms 91:1 reads, “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.”
Just before His death Jesus prayed for us, “I pray for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you.” John 17: 20-21.
The goal of every Christian is to truly be one with our Maker and Savior. We long to rest in His forgiveness and experience the fullness of His mercy, an experience that can only occur if via the power of His Spirit we align ourselves with His will. Our shadow merges with His and when others see us they see Him. “In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:16.
Written September 15, 2002
We used to joke about getting an “A” in recess on our report card. Now we know how very important recess is. Recess isn’t a child just running about between reading and math. Recess is a child stimulating physical health, mental coordination and the development of social skills. All three are extremely important for life after school.
Often times during the job interview process a highly educated person is passed over in favor of a lesser-trained person because the latter had better social skills. A sour apple can spoil an otherwise wonderful work place. Recess is a rough and tumble place where the “sour apple” learns how to get along.
In Romans 14:19 Paul counsels, “Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.”
This is called getting along. Sometimes it is a challenge. Sometimes it means surrendering a privilege. Being a mature person means weighing the outcomes of certain actions and behaviors. It means selecting that which will bring harmony to a potentially explosive situation. Often it is a skill learned during recess.
Recess is important. Jesus said, “Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the children of God.” Matthew 5
Written October 9, 2002
Do you know anyone who makes quilts? Quilters are people who create masterpieces. They pour enormous amounts of time into their art. All those tiny stitches require great patience and the designs require an artistic eye and a very creative mind.
Like any art form, quilts express the personality of the creator. Would you guess perhaps that calm, subdued people create quilts with lots of earth tones while extroverts fashion quilts with lots of bright reds and yellows?
Just as a master quilter utilizes a vast array from shabby to elegant pieces of cloth so God takes the varied experiences of our lives and quilts each of us into an amazingly beautiful and unique person. Some of us are extroverts and some introverts. God is amazing. While He quilts us into His image, He still allows each of us to choose what kind of person we want to be. Unlike human art, which is solely the fruit of the artist’s labors, God’s art has tremendous input into itself.
It would be boring if all quilts looked alike so God would surely be bored if we were all the same. Since creation there have been approximately 80 billion people on this old planet. That means there have been 80 billion different quilts. God supplies the basics. He gives us a body and a mind and then sets us free to create the final product. What we do with those basics is up to us.
Written September 8, 2002
The gas station attendant walked up to the car and said, “Sorry we are out of regular. But I can fill you up with premium for the price of regular.” It was like going into a store for plain vanilla and coming out with Ben and Jerry’s Cherry Garcia.
So often our spiritual life is like that. We pick up our Bibles to study and as we start reading the Lord often gives us “premium for the price of regular.” Passages like “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will—to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding.”
Wow! He blessed us with every spiritual blessing. He chose us to be blameless. He adopted us according to His good pleasure. He lavishes us with wisdom and understanding. And best of all it is free. That is premium. That is Cherry Garcia for the soul.
Written February 11, 2003
The hiker and his dog sat on a mountaintop overlooking a quaint New England village. The sun was behind them and they could watch the shadows of night edging their way from home to home. Ducks created V’s on the pond below as geese formed them in the sky above.
During a late summer storm an oak tree had fallen across the path to this mountain summit. Hikers had already started a new path around it. Obstacles are like that. Obstacles are just obstacles and nothing more. People find ways around them. Sometimes they are minor blips along life’s way, but sometimes they are major interruptions on the way to a dream. Smart people, innovative people, brave people, undefeatable people always find a way around. This is the way it is supposed to be. Obstacles teach us lessons. Obstacles make us stronger and wiser. Obstacles make the moment of success all the sweeter.
In Hebrews 12: 2 we read, “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
The cross was not the end. It was only an obstacle.
Written September 22, 2002
The stereo was on, the vacuum was running, the dog was barking at the vacuum and the phone was ringing. It was mayhem. As he reached for the phone he dropped the vacuum hose and yelled at the dog to be quiet. Just then a strange high-pitched electronic sounding hum began. It kept getting louder and louder. Had something gone wrong with the stereo? Fortunately, the phone call was short. It was just another telemarketer. But by now the hum had increased to a high-pitched whistle. Turning off the stereo did not help. Turning off the vacuum did not help. The dog left the room. The sound was coming from behind him. Whirling about he saw the telltale steam coming out of the whistling teapot on the woodstove.
Do you ever think there is so much noise in the world you can barely think? Sometimes life gets so loud we have an awful time hearing God’s voice. He speaks in a still small voice (I Kings 19:12) and He is crowded out by the cacophony of life. In Psalms 46:10 He asks us to be still. But when? When David wrote that verse life was a whole lot quieter. Most likely the noisiest thing around was the neighbor’s dog. However, God does make a recommendation that works. In Psalms 4:4 we read, “When you are on your beds, search your heart and be silent.”
Turn off the news. Turn off Dave and Jay and listen. You will be amazed at what you hear
Written March 18, 2003
If we were required to produce a top ten list of life’s greatest mysteries phone bills ought to be near the top. Have you ever really looked at one of those things or do you just give up and pay what it says? Not only is there the basic charge and the long distance fees for each call, there is also the FCC Line Charge and the Federal USF Surcharge and the Local Number Portability charge. Whatever that is! And then there is the 49-cent charge for Touch-Tone Service. Whatever happened to just “Reach out and touch someone?”
Jesus once reached out and touched someone for free. It is such an exciting story that Mark put it in his very first chapter. While Matthew and Luke are talking about the nativity and John is writing about Jesus being the incarnate Word of God, Mark wants us to know right from the beginning that this Jesus he is going to tell us about touched a leper. By the end of the chapter he has Jesus being pursued by such large crowds He can no longer enter the towns because the streets were too narrow.
There is no doubt about it—Jesus is wonderful. And best of all He will touch each of us and there is no 49-cent charge.
Written April 27, 2003
She has a black wet nose. She wants to please. There are certain things she does understand. She sits. She speaks. She finds her toy. She gets the newspaper. She wants to do more but there is so much she does not understand. When talked to she sits and listens attentively. She cocks her head and looks quizzically saying, “Can’t you bark that to me?” But there is a barrier.
Sometimes our noses are wet. We want to please. There are certain things we do understand. We sit. We speak. We find toys. We can read the paper. We want to do more but there is so much we do not understand. When God talks to us we sit and listen attentively. We too cock our heads and look quizzically through the pages of the Bible saying, “Can’t you speak more plainly to us?” But there is a barrier.
Hopefully as my dog grows older she will understand more. Hopefully as we grow older we will understand more. For now we see as through a dark glass. We catch glimmers of movement on the other side. There is hope. In 1 Corinthians 13:12 we read, “For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.
Perhaps my dog will never understand, but we will.
Written March 25, 2002
Tucked away in many closets and cupboards are stacks of old table games: Monopoly, Careers, Candyland, Memory, Mastermind and others. The sight of them often brings memories of eager little ones begging for someone to play with them. Ah, the fine art of playing games with children. It is called, “How to let them win without their knowing you are letting them win.” Those same little ones years later have most likely learned the fine art of, “How to let the old guy win without his knowing they are letting him win!”
We all like to win and a favorite verse of Scripture is about winning. In Romans 8:37 we read, “…in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.” Jesus makes sure we are winners. The passage goes on to say that there is nothing in heaven or on earth than can separate us from God’s love. Talk about winning! It is so grand; Paul says we are more than winners. What we get is so wonderful it is beyond our concept of what it means to win.
In Philippians 3:14 Paul writes, “I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” Since Paul tells us in Ephesians 2 that we have eternal life as a gift, eternal life cannot be what we are trying to win. We already have the gift. Read the verse more carefully. The prize we are to win is our high calling to be like Jesus Himself
Written April 5, 2002
When astronauts return to earth after an extended stay in space their muscles have to readjust to the downward pull of gravity. Gravity is what creates weight. If one wants to weigh half as much, all one needs to do is move to a planet with half the gravitational pull. It is the pull that keeps our muscles toned. Those pictures advertising electronic stimulation of the muscles promising wonderfully cut bodies are just not true. Muscles develop in reaction to resistance. Finely cut bodies are the result of disciplined hours of resistance training.
In a similar fashion our minds only develop to higher levels of performance when challenged. Study, memorization, and critical thinking all contribute to keener perception. Just as a couch potato gets soft and squishy so our brains lose their edge when fed a diet of sitcoms. Resistance, hard work and discipline apply across each aspect of our lives. Our physical, mental and spiritual natures grow stronger when challenged.
If you are a conservative be thankful for the presence of liberals. If you are a liberal rejoice because there are conservatives present. The conservatives hold on to tradition and values that come from centuries of lessons learned. Liberals stimulate growth and change with new ideas. When each resists the other something good occurs for the whole.
Jesus understood this. That is why in Matthew 5 He told us to rejoice when difficulties come. They make us stronger.
Written May 8, 2002