Wednesday, July 29, 2009


What do you think heaven is like? How do you picture it, either from knowledge of the Bible or personal thoughts? Streets of gold? Angel choirs? Conversation with famous saints? Good food and old friends?

This past weekend my son was in Cooperstown, NY, for the induction ceremony at the Baseball Hall of Fame. Brian has been a lifelong baseball fan and is a walking encyclopedia of stats and trivia. He's also a fan of Jim Rice, former Red Sox star outfielder and one of the weekend inductees.

Saturday evening Brian called with an animated description of the thrill of walking around a lovely town and rubbing shoulders with so many baseball legends. He later emailed us with more observations, as well as a list of baseball players he saw and how it affected him. 

"I am telling you, you guys have to come here, especially during induction weekend. It's amazing how many faces [of former baseball greats] you can see. The village here is wonderfully quiet, the houses are old brick structures with all kinds of history and it is so green everywhere. And really it is fairly cheap to visit here provided you don't plan on buying a bunch of merchandise. Anything Yankees or Red Sox you can imagine is on sale." He ended up his phone conversation with, "I think I'll retire here - this is heaven!"

So, what is heaven like to you? I try to imagine whom I'd like to meet there that would be as thrilling. Would a day in heaven include hobnobbing with Peter about discipleship, or talking theology with Paul, or sharing a heavenly brew with Martin and Katie? Would it include the joy of running into Mom and Dad and sharing my life with Carol or our boys or grandchildren? Would I be surprised at some who were there, as well as some who were not?

Maybe the peace and joy of heaven will have nothing to do with what gives us joy now. We can only imagine it based on personal experience. I dream of singing in angel choirs with no rehearsals, where everyone knew his/her part, and perhaps landing a solo. Would I meet people who overcame great odds, or prospered due to advice or encouragement given?

We don't know, of course. But we do know we'll be thrilled to be there, and especially to meet God face-to-face. That's enough - the greatest thrill of all - just to stand in His presence.

What I can't understand is why folks think it's enlightened to deny God and heaven. Why is life better with no faith? What's so wise about believing there's nothing after death, that the door slams shut, and the grave is all that's left? What's so great about believing in nothing but this life?  

One day heaven will be plain to all believers. Jesus once prayed, "I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children." (Matthew 11:25) I'd rather live as a little child of faith than perish with the learned.

I wonder if there's a heavenly Hall of Fame!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009


They hauled away my old friend yesterday. Ten years ago I was given a huge old Kodak copier and it printed bulletins very well most of the time. Finally a copier repairman told me not to call him, that no one would work on it any longer. Yet without a repairman it somehow kept making copies until the print finally faded away. 

I called around to see if a recycler would take it, but no one wanted what once cost thousands and was the best and most durable model ever made. Its counter said 753,542 when it quit. It could have gone several million, but it was dead and no repairman would even look at it.

I rolled it into my garage and spent time every day taking it apart, putting the pieces into boxes and placing them on the curb for the garbage men. Twice I helped them toss the heavy parts into their truck, rewarding them with bottles of water as they hauled away pieces of Old Faithful. Yesterday they hauled away the last of the ransacked frame and I thanked them profusely.

(Did I ever tell you that garbage men are among my favorite people because they remind me of Jesus forgiving my sins? But that's another story...)

That old machine was amazing. Who invented it? It weighed 200+ pounds, had over 400 tiny bolts and a mile of fine wire. How did they make it work? How many mistakes did they make before they got it right? And everything in it was for one purpose only, to copy a page in black and white. All the metal and plastic and screws and wires and boxes of toner combined to make thousands of copies, all of them long forgotten.

Then I thought of my own body. It's getting a bit worn, but it still does dozens of things every day, some of them fairly well yet. It stands, walks and talks, uses arms to work and legs to get around, remembers and dreams in color, makes music and creates and prays. It does ten thousand more things than that old copier despite being much older. Pretty amazing!

Now no one with intelligence would ever say that old copier just happened along one day. Every single human being on this planet would agree that someone designed it and manufactured it. That's just common sense. Everyone knows those things don't just appear, no matter how long we waited.

But most all of those same millions of "intelligent" humans would insist, yes, demand I believe, that my human body evolved by accident. No copy machine could ever evolve, they say, not in a gazillion years. But human beings did, oh yes, absolutely! It just took lots of time.

How foolish people are to deny we are products of a Divine Creator. How silly we are to think nuts and bolts must be invented, but bodies just happen. How arrogant not to believe in God the Father almighty, Creator of heaven and earth.

Some day when they haul away my old dead body in a box, people may remember some of what it did. But few will ever fully realize the miracle of how it came to be, how it lived, thought, breathed, ate, sang, loved and had faith in its Creator. 

"I will praise You, O God, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made."
(Psalm 139:14)

Tuesday, July 14, 2009


Joseph Scriven discovered early in life how much he needed the Lord. Born in Ireland, he was looking forward to marrying a lovely lass when tragedy struck. On the eve of their wedding, she accidentally drowned. In great sorrow he emigrated to Canada at the age of twenty-five and met another lovely woman he wished to marry, only to lose her after a brief and fatal illness.

Impoverished and with his own health turning frail, Joseph became involved in helping the physically handicapped. He spent the rest of his life helping poor, sick and underprivileged Canadians, often sharing his food and even his clothing with those in need.

But his good deeds and the story of his life might never have been known had not Joseph Scriven written a poem to comfort his mother back home during her serious illness. It had been ten years since he left her, and though he ached to be at her side, he was unable to visit her. So he wrote her a poem and mailed it off, hoping it would bring her what little comfort he had to give.

Scriven's poem lay dormant for decades until sometime later it appeared in a publication which was eventually seen by American lawyer - composer Charles Converse. He set the words to a simple but inspiring tune and gave Christians a hymn that lives in the hearts of believers all around the world.

What a Friend we have in Jesus, All our sins and griefs to bear
What a privilege to carry Everything to God in prayer.
O what peace we often forfeit, O what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry Everything to God in prayer.

Have we trials and temptations, Is there trouble anywhere?
We should never be discouraged; Take it to the Lord in prayer.
Can we find a Friend so faithful, Who will all our sorrows share?
Jesus knows our every weakness; Take it to the Lord in prayer.

Are we weak and heavy laden, Cumbered with a load of care?
Precious Savior, still our refuge - Take it to the Lord in prayer.
Do Thy friends despite, forsake thee? Take it to the Lord in prayer.
In His arms He'll take and shield thee, Thou wilt find a solace there.

Thank You, O Lord, for such beauty and faith amid human trial!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009


A friend of mine and her husband are retired missionaries to Africa. Early this year Mary Lu found a tiny spot on her nose, and a careful medical examination revealed she had facial basal cell carcinoma. She awoke from surgery and was shocked to learn just how much infected tissue - half of her face under her facial skin - had to be removed.

With treatment she will survive and with reconstructive surgery will look much the same as before. She's doing well and smiling more these days because she is blessed to have a problem fixed that could have resulted in a gruesome death.

(Mary Lu wrote:)  "I cringe remembering that tiny spot on my nose. If it had not shown up, those killer cells would have continued to grow underneath. What would have happened, if I had no doctors, no facilities, no insurance or finances to pay for the removal? What if I did not have a loving, caring husband, concerned family and faithful friends? I could have done nothing but slowly, painfully, watched my face eaten away.

"This cancer of mine is like the sneaky, horrific results of sin! We may think we can hide those little seeds of sin. But if we don't recognize the decay, it will sink deeper into our being. Like the cancer cells in my nose, it has the potential to eventually destroy us. Thankfully, our loving Savior forgives us when we come to Him with repentant hearts, cutting away all the evil and giving us new life. We give Him all praise and honor."

There are many areas of our lives that outwardly are barely noticeable, but inwardly are serious problems. Secret wrong activities, bad little habits and seemingly harmless misdeeds can hurt and even destroy us if they are not realized, stopped and repented. 

Even a society can have its killer cancers, working silently and steadily to corrupt and destroy people and freedom. That which is legal (but wrong) can become a deadly cancer that destroys a society. We cannot stop seeking to remove that which is destructive, just because others may criticize us. 

May God give us courage to do the right things!

Saturday, July 4, 2009


Today is the Fourth of July, America's Independence Day, a day we celebrate God's gift of liberty. American liberty was declared 233 years ago by a Congress of patriots. It was won by an army of volunteers against the greatest army in the world. The Declaration of Independence was only the beginning; maintaining liberty ever since has come by our people standing for it and fighting when necessary. Human liberty must be declared and won by every generation.

But will America keep its liberty? Is there a generation that will forfeit this great gift? There are those today who believe this goal is naive and no longer valid, that world and planetary problems dictate scaling back of human freedom for the good of all.

If such a thing would happen, it would mean the end of human liberty. Will there yet arise a new generation which will turn the hearts of its countrymen back to the ideals of those who gave us American liberty in 1776? Or will we turn our backs while others chip away at it until it is gone forever?

Liberty is a goal of mankind, not of America alone. It belongs to all who enjoy freedom in any part of the world, and it belongs to all nations that will yet serve Him. As we reach back into the records of history to observe the hand of the God, the Great Author of all liberty, we will find direction for the days ahead and discover the keys we need to deal with the future.

Independence Day is day of remembering. We must never forget the past, and must keep teaching our children what has gone before. Forgetting the past, insisting it has no place in today's education, is the first step is forfeiting liberty. There is a great deal at stake today. As we look to that which led to our nation's founding, let us all appreciate what liberty cost those who earned it for us. We cannot neglect the present and still hope to enjoy in the future the blessings of the past.

Liberty was purchased by courage, self-sacrifice, and unceasing vigilance. Only by these virtues can we hope to keep our liberty in future days to come. We must, by God's grace, be as determined to protect our liberties as our forefathers were to win them. We might begin by memorizing the words of St. Paul, "Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage." (Galatians 5:1).

Thank You, O Lord, for Your gift of freedom, today and always!