Wednesday, August 29, 2007


God always provides for us, often in surprising ways. It was sultry yesterday morning as I started walking to Dallas Love Field. I'd flown in the day before to help friends renew their vows on their 35th anniversary. They'd left me at my motel the night before, and it turned out to be a bit far from the airport and had no shuttle. My slip-on shoes, while good for airport security, were no good for walking, but I figured the walk would do me good, even in the heat.

It turned out to be a rough neighborhood with smelly trash and broken sidewalks. After I'd walked about a block, a car pulled over and a woman driver said, "Can I take you somewhere?" "Excuse me?" I replied. "Can I give you a lift?" she said. She was a Hispanic woman, neatly dressed, about 50, probably on her way to work, and she offered me a ride. And I accepted! 

"Were you at my motel, the Red Roof Inn back there?" I asked as I got in. "No," she replied, "but I used to work there. They gave me a job when I needed one." "Why did you offer me a ride?" I asked. "You remind me of my father," she said again, "He left us long ago, but I think of him. Maybe he is like you now. I miss him." I thanked her profusely, as we drove and I realized my walk would have been 2-3 miles in the heat and humidity.

As we neared the airport I offered her $5 for the ride and she said, "No, no, no, I do this for you! I'm a Christian woman. My friends tell me, 'Carmen, stop doing that, somebody's going to kill you one day,' and I say, 'I'm going to die anyway, so it might as well be doing something good'. This I want to do." She dropped me off at the front gate and left me standing there amazed, with a lump in my throat. Why did she offer me a ride?

"She was just looking for a pickup," some might say, cynically. But at 8:30 AM? Most of you will think I was unwise accepting a ride from a stranger in a big city. "Think what could have happened," others might say. I prefer to consider this little unexpected episode as the kindness of a Christian woman, a little help from the Lord when I needed it. Her actions certainly improved my attitude about Dallas!  

Perhaps Carmen is searching for her father, or maybe I looked like a pathetic old man who needed help. Or maybe she was doing her daily good deed and I happened to be there. But whatever the case, I appreciated it. God does move people to do surprising things, to take chances, even in this uncertain world.

Hebrews 13 tells us, "Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it." Heaven knows I'm no angel, but I think Carmen was. Rather than question peoples' motives or actions, we should just accept their kindnesses. And then go out and help someone else. 

Yes, there is evil in the world, but not around every corner. God still and always provides. He wants us to share our random acts of kindness with others, because there are all sorts of people out there who need them.

Thank you, Carman, and thank You, Lord.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007


This past week I "came out of retirement" and assisted dear friends in saying goodbye to their 23 day old baby son. It's among the hardest things a minister will do, and it is, by far, the most difficult thing parents can experience.  "The Lord has given, the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the lord," (Job 1:21) are true words, but they weigh heavy on the heart at such times.

We went to visit them one evening on a day with a slow rain. As we drove, the setting sun broke out, full and bright in the west, even as rain still sprinkled on us. And I'm sure you know what followed: a lovely complete rainbow appeared in the eastern sky. It was beautiful and so colorful.

After the rain comes the rainbow, God's promise of salvation. All daytime showers produce rainbows, yet we don't always see them, either because we aren't looking from the right direction, or we aren't looking at all. But after the rain, there are always rainbows. If there was no rain, there would be no rainbow.

Every good thing in life is a rainbow, a blessing from God, but we don't always recognize it as such. This is true either because we are seeing it from the wrong perspective, or else we are too busy to look for it. Sometimes we can only see the "bad" in every blessing (it's not just air, it's "polluted air," or it's not just the warming sun, it's the "cancer-causing sun.") But rainbows are still rainbows, no matter how we see them.

God gives rainbows after every rain, especially when we suffer the storms of illness, frailty, conflict or anything that causes grief. Thankfully, after the hard things pour on us, then follows the rainbows of health or strength or peace. Even if we can't see them right away, they are still there.

Trusting in Jesus Christ, we are given strength to endure whatever suffering we have. He endured suffering and death for us on the cross, and promises strength for every burden. His love helps us to enjoy rainbows here and unending heavenly joys there. Our Lord Jesus makes life worth living, and death worth dying.

Praise God for our everlasting rainbow of heaven.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007


We saw the Persid Meteor Shower this weekend, a dazzling display of particles from outer space entering our atmosphere, streaking across the night sky, “shooting stars,” we call them, here only a second, noticed by few. We saw them in the mountains at 10,000 feet on the backdrop of a million real stars, those faraway specks that always light the night sky.

That morning we'd worshipped at the Air Force Academy Chapel with our cadet niece and heard the timeless message of God's grace for us passing creatures, ours by faith in Jesus Christ. And I wondered, are people like shooting stars?

Secular scientists tell us humans live a mere moment, meaningless flashes across time. But the Triune God says believers in Christ are among the heavenly bodies, destined to remain His precious souls for all eternity. We are not meaningless, but His blessed ones.

Joseph and Edith are not shooting stars. We'd met them before as visitors to Epiphany Lutheran. They live in Larkspur, CO, and for years have come each Sunday to help as they can, assisting the AF chaplain by serving the cadets donuts and coffee after chapel each week. I asked them why they did.

“We are at war, and this is how we can do our part,” they said. Joseph and Edith came from Hungary 35 years ago and know well of true oppression, of war and the enemies of freedom. Now American citizens, they spend a few hours each week encouraging tired cadets, worshipping with them, and helping make their Sunday morning a little more pleasant. 

God's people are the real stars, not the clever or the rich or the wise of this world. Believers make their mark for eternity by their faith which shows itself in works of love. God's mercy and forgiveness in Jesus Christ are ours forever. Those who trust Him will never fade away. The actions of God's people do make a difference in this fleeting world. You are God's child, not a meaningless speck in time.

Thank You, Lord, for our soldiers, their families, and all those who support them. Bless and protect them all. Thank you for the freedom You have given us, and thank you most of all for our eternity by faith in Jesus, Your Son, amen.

The public is always welcome to worship with our cadets on Sunday mornings.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007


A young minister was walking with an older minister in a garden one day. New in his work of the Gospel, he was struggling about what God had for him to do, the kind of ministry he should seek. So he was asking the older, well seasoned minister for advice. The older man gently plucked a lovely rosebud, handed it to the young man and said, "Open this without tearing off any petals." "That's not possible - I'd ruin it," said the young man. The old man then recited to him this poem:

It is only a tiny rosebud, A flower of God's design;
But I cannot unfold the petals With these clumsy hands of mine.

The secret of unfolding flowers Is not known to such as I.
God opens this flower so sweetly, But in my hands, they die.

If I cannot unfold a rosebud, This flower of God's design,
Then how can I have the wisdom To unfold this life of mine?

So I'll trust Him for His leading, Each moment of my day.
I will look to Him for guidance Each step along my way.

The path that lies before me, Only God my Father knows.
I'll trust Him to unfold the moments, Just as He unfolds the rose.

You and I can "plan our work and work our plan," but our life is ever and always in God's hands. Commit to Him each of your days as it comes, and trust that He will show you what way is best. Our path of life will have many unexpected turns and even some potholes. We will meet many along the way who will enrich our lives or drain us of strength. But Jesus is always there to forgive us and give us a new start again.

Let God unfold your life the way He has planned for you,

Wednesday, August 1, 2007


We got home Sunday night after our road trip of 24 days and 3400 miles. During the final hundred miles, the tune from Dvorak's New World Symphony kept going through my mind ("Going home, going home, I'm just going home.") It felt very good to wake up in our home bedroom again.

Monday morning was spent unloading our old Airstream trailer and moving it back to storage. Strange, but each time I walked through its door, it felt a little like home, too. And on the trip, home was our trailer.

So, what is "home," anyway?

It seems to me we all have more than one. One home is the primary address where we live and have those things near and dear to us, our clothes, furniture, personal mementoes and such. Another might be the "home base" we have while away from our regular home. Another home might be where we were born, where Mom and Dad lived.

An old saying goes, "Home is Where the Heart Is." To me, home is where you know there's love waiting for you. Home is where you know you have a place reserved just for you, regardless of what's happened that day.

For Christians, the ultimate home is heaven, and so we sing, "I'm but a stranger here; heaven is my home." This one is the best, because there are no mortgage payments, no house cleaning or yardwork, and the Landlord is the best a person could ever have. He's prepared a place just for you, and life there will be sweet and fine.

Where is home for you? Are things there okay? Not everyone can say they are. Bad health, money shortage, poor relationships, or other kind of strife can turn home into a hell on earth. I pray yours isn't like that, but if it is worse than better, remember the Lord. Go to Him in faith and humility. Ask His help and He will answer.

Well folks, there's yardwork waiting, but you'll hear no complaints from this guy. "Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight." (Proverbs 3:5-6, NIV)

Welcome home, fellow travellers!