Tuesday, February 24, 2009


I made a mistake in last week's MESSAGE. I said Arizona receives twelve inches of annual rainfall, when in fact it only receives seven. Seven inches of rain isn't much - one or two storms could total that in Minnesota. Only seven inches of annual rainfall makes agricultural production in Arizona even more amazing. I got this corrected information from an internet article, "Table of Annual Rainfall for U.S. States."  Yes, the internet gave me the correct info. 

Do you ever wonder how all that information gets on the internet? You can find something out there about most any topic, and probably many articles. But who puts all that information out there? Who writes it so we can read it? Who has the knowledge? And who has the time? There must be an army of people who wake up each morning with a list of articles to write just so you and I can read them.

People have always disputed the idea of a God who could know everything.  "No one can know that much," they say, and people agreed. There can't be a God who can know EVERYTHING. But today with computers getting smaller and more powerful, it ought to be easier than ever to believe in a God who can know everything. 

Think about it. I can copy eight gigabytes of data on a little two inch stick. That's a half million pages on something the size of a piece of chewing gum! A one terrabyte external drive the size of a pack of cigarettes can hold sixty-five million pages! The entire Library of Congress could probably be contained on a backup drive the size of a shoebox. Wow!

So why should it be so hard to believe in a God who can know everything? I don't know about you, but every time they make the computer smaller and hold more information, it's easier for me to believe in an almighty God who knows everything.

Tomorrow is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of the season of Lent in which we recall the road Jesus took to Calvary. It's the season we recount for the sacrifice God made for the sins of the world. And we recall what His sacrifice did for us, giving us eternal life. 

Lent shows us God in His almighty and amazing grace has removed the sins of the world. No matter how many they are, He has removed them, put them in the trash. And then He emptied it! Our personal hard drives (and they are VERY hard) are completely erased. Because of Jesus, God who knows all our sins forgets them. To me, that's the most amazing thing of all.

May the coming forty days of Lent be a blessing to you!

P.S. If you're unsure what "Lent" all about, check it out on the internet!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009


It is raining here in the desert this morning. It may surprise you that Arizona has two "monsoon" seasons - midwinter and late summer. The rains add up to only 12" of moisture per year, but that water is vital to all the living. Arizona's state seal contains five C's - Cattle, Citrus, Cotton, Climate and Copper.

Palm Creek, our winter home in Casa Grande, is a former cotton field, and nearby are several dairy operations with thousands of dairy cattle. Cirtus trees flourish in yards and orchards. Though essentially a desert, this area has relied on agriculture since the 1900s, and irrigated fields produce fine crops that feed animals and people.

Isaiah 35 likens life with God to a renewed desert: "Then will the lame leap like a deer, and the mute tongue shout for joy. Water will gush forth in the wilderness and streams in the desert." (Isaiah 35:6). Rains bring desert flowers and life-giving sustenance to all the living.

There is much talk now about economic woes, and such talk is probably making the problem worse than it is. Yes, things could be better, but I am not convinced our true troubles are economic. The real problem is spiritual. If people would spend less time trying to eliminate God from the culture and acknowledge His truth and presence even in a small way, the deserts around us might not seem so harsh. Almighty God, who can bring flowers to the desert, can also bring a nation to its knees when its people forget Him.

Rain and snow come from the Lord. Isaiah 55 tells us, "As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it." (Isaiah 55:10-11)

God's Word will never fade away. Man's ideas and institutions will. The greatest of nations is replaceable. Even Church congregations and denominations come and go. But the Word of the Lord endures forever, the Gospel of Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior of the world.

"Seek the LORD while He may be found; call on Him while He is near." (Isaiah 55:6)

Tuesday, February 10, 2009


In the 1957 Oscar winning film, "Bridge on the River Kwai," Col. Nicholson, a prisoner of war, is ordered by the Japanese army to build a bridge over the Kwai River. As a dedicated engineer, he desires to do his best even if the result will be used by the enemy. Col. Nicholson accomplishes an amazing task very well, but when the bridge is done and a train is crossing it for the first time, he also sees Allied commandos setting charges to blow it up.

No, he must not let this happen - all his work will be for nothing! Rather than allow his work to be a battle won for the Allies, he wants it to stand as a monument to his abilities. In the end, he loses both the bridge and his life because he does not see there is a greater good at work than his desire to be a good engineer.

Most of the time you and I can see only the short term purpose of our life, and not the long term. We seek our passion, or pleasure, or possessions now as things to want at this very moment. But God sees beyond our moment and may not give us what we want. He may not answer our prayer our way. He seems cruel or unjust because He does not give us our desires. But in the end, His way and His answers are better than ours.

You and I must trust that God sees farther into the future than we can. We must believe He knows what is best for us and will bring it to pass. Our disappointments may hurt us now, but they have an eternal purpose that will bless us and others later when the long term is made known.

God's purposes will be made known to us one day in the eternity of heaven. If our bridges seem to crumble now, it is because He has something far better for us later on.

"Weeping may come at night, but joy comes in the morning."  (Psalm 30:5)

Monday, February 2, 2009


Edmund Burke and Leo Tolstoy both have written, "All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing." The message I send today is true, though you may not believe it belongs here.

In World War II, few Germans soldiers were actually Nazis; they were just controlled by them. The majority of German citizens were peaceful people and only after a bitterly lost war did they see the terror and horror that resulted from actions of their leaders. But for a time evil triumphed because good people did nothing about it.

Not unlike the Moslems of today. We are told over and again that Islam is the religion of peace, and that the vast majority of Muslims want to live in peace. Although it may be true, it makes no difference to Islamic fascists. 

Islamic fanatics rule Islam today. They are the ones who preach bombing, beheading, and all kinds of murder in the name of Allah. They stone, hang or kill anyone who offends them, including their own. Worst of all, they teach their young to do the same. A majority of Moslems may be good people, but their inaction is helping Islamic fascism.

Fanatics can control people and foster hatred of other races and religions. From 1917 until the 1980s, most Russians were peaceful, yet Russian Communists were responsible for the deaths of 20 million people. During that time China's huge population was mostly peaceful, but Chinese Communists killed 50 million. Most Japanese in World War II were peaceful, yet millions died by actions of their fanatical leaders. Most Rwandans are peace loving, yet the guns and machetes of fanatics recently killed hundreds of thousands of the "wrong" race.

History is often so simple and blunt that we can miss its most basic lessons: 1) Masses can be led by a few evil people. Peace-loving majorities can be rendered irrelevant by an evil minority. 2) Peace-loving people can become the enemy if led by evil leaders. How many millions have died because the peaceful majority remained silent?

Fanatical fascism cannot be coddled; it must be met with force. We can do battle with it now, or we can do it later, but free people cannot avoid fighting it. There is no middle ground with evil; history has shown this over and over. To resist it takes force and strength.

The price of freedom is vigilence. We must ever be watchful of those who spread their beliefs by force. Our Lord Jesus is "The way, the truth and the life" (John 14:6), and He has told us, "The truth will set you free." (John 8:32) May we ever give thanks for those who are willing to give their lives that humanity may continue to live in freedom.

And may good people always do what is necessary!