Monday, September 28, 2009


A number of years ago I read a story about Babe Ruth, and I hope it's true. One can't always be sure in this age of internet recycling. The story goes something like this:

At the end of his legendary career, Babe Ruth had become overweight and out of shape. During one of his final baseball games, he bungled several fly balls in the outfield and struck out every time he came up to bat. Fans who had known of his once-proud exploits were now laying on hoots and catcalls, mocking this great athlete who had almost single-handedly made baseball our national pastime. Jeers for the man who had hit twice as many home runs as anyone else in the game was quickly becoming an embarrassment.

About then a small boy jumped the railing and ran onto the playing field. Scampering past players and field ushers, he ran over and threw his arms around the legs of the fading athlete. A gently smiling Babe reached down, picked up the boy and hugged him tight. Not surprisingly, the crowd quieted down. Then setting the little fellow down and patting him on the head, the Babe took the boy's hand and led him over to his dugout. Witnesses say he received an ovation in that moment that inspired quite a few tears.

The crowd had been correct in their assessment, of course. Babe Ruth had let much of his athletic prowess go to seed, even more than age might have excused him. Yet a young boy remembered him for who he was. Best of all, he chose to cover over his hero's errors with genuine love.

This is not unlike what marriage, family and even some special friendships are established to be: people saying to each other, “I know you've failed me and disappointed me at times, as I have you. But I'm still going to put my arm around you and tell you, 'I love you.' After all, we're on this journey together.”

I believe the angels in heaven burst into praise when they see people show love like that. In a way, this is what God's love is like for imperfect people. 1 Peter 4:8 tells us, "Keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins." 

In Jesus, God has already done that for you!

Monday, September 21, 2009


We don't always realize the impact we make on others. Often years, even a lifetime, must pass before we realize the difference we have made in someone's life. Then, by God's grace, we are allowed to see or hear how our life or life's work helped someone.

"Operation Market Garden" of World War II took place in September, 1944. The "Screaming Eagles" of the 101st Airborne were center of a paratrooper task force to secure bridges on the lower Rhine so the Allies could rapidly advance into northern Germany and defeat the enemy. However, miscalculations in landing led to the needless deaths of thousands of solders that day when they landed too far behind enemy lines. Only determination and great sacrifice led to eventual victory.

Fifty years later, Maj. Gen. Robert Dees (101st Airborne, Retired), and a small group of other solders parachuted into the same drop zone near Eindhoven, Holland, to commemorate that terrible day. On that day in 1994 when he landed, a Dutch woman came near and hugged him. Through her tears and an interpreter she told him her story. 

In the days before that assault in 1944, the Germans were executing five fathers a day in Eindhoven to keep the population in submission and deter the Dutch underground. On the day this woman's father was to be shot, American paratroopers fell from the sky, saving his life. She learned this from her mother, because this woman had not yet been born. So she was alive in 1994 even though so many others died during Operation Market Garden.

Each person's life is important. Each home is important. Our small but courageous choices - to stand for the truth, to remain committed to one another, to raise a family that honors Jesus Christ, or to do what is right when others are not - all these will yield a victory of some kind. Just like that Dutch woman was alive because her father was rescued by soldiers who lived through a fierce battle, so also the generations we help raise and are part of, will give life to the future church and society and nation.

What battles are you in right now? What bright spots on the horizen do you see that will give people hope? What can you do to help bring victory in the cultural battle for Christian home and family? 

[Jesus said] "Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life." (Rev. 2:10)

Monday, September 14, 2009


What's left of today's print media often gives us articles that offer problems and no solutions. I don't wish to be another gloomy pundit, just a fellow human being trying to understand our journey through life. I want to give you hope for life, not more to worry about. After reading this article, you may find this hard to see.

This week's thoughts start with a realization of how dependent on electricity we are. We are helpless without it. Home and business electricity come from a complex power grid; our monetary system depends on electronic accounting; food distribution depends on computers; newer cars and trucks run only via onboard computers; communication and media are dependent on airwaves and satellites; hospitals, schools, governments, churches and even our powerful military function only by electronics. All it would take for disaster to strike is for the lights to go out and stay out. We can hardly imagine life without electricity.

If you want to read a terrifying reality, look up "EMP" on your computer or encyclopedia. A powerful Electro Magnetic Pulse can put all the lights out. Tiny EMPs occur in nature from a rare solar power burst, but a really damaging one would be man-made, from a nuclear explosion in the upper atmosphere. One medium sized A-Bomb exploded at the right height over America would result in human death on a scale that is unimaginable, simply by rendering our electronics useless.

We have isolated ourselves by technology, marooned ourselves on an island of our own making. Without electricity, most of humanity would die in a year or two. And all it would take is a few people insane enough to make such a bomb and smart enough to send it up in a rocket. We need to pray our military will always be far ahead of those perverse enough to destroy us and themselves for the sake of their god. And we need to pray our leaders will see the importance of being prepared for such a catastrophe.

Despite such a terrifying dependance, there most certainly is hope. Our hope comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth. He who keeps us will neither slumber nor sleep, and He is ready to hear our prayers at any time, no electronics needed!

I've been leading a Bible Class on the "First Three Centuries of Christianity," a video discussion series by Dr. Paul L. Maier (which, of course, requires electronics for projection and copying). Dr. Maier shows the incredible power of God at work in the lives of the early Christians who endured terrible persecution, war and starvation, and yet managed not just to survive but to thrive and eventually to change the entire world.

Like them, our only hope is Jesus Christ. Faith lives in the heart, not on a circuit board. Christians have always survived because of God's grace and mercy, and the faith and hope of the risen Christ. The love of Jesus is one of the few things we can know for sure in this life. Early Christians survived on hope of forgiveness and eternal life. They trusted with all their hearts that God would care for them here in time, and there in eternity. So must we.

Perhaps we can also lighten our loads a little. We don't need everything Madison Avenue tries to sell us. Maybe we can talk less on our cell phone, read a Good Book, take a walk or take out the original computer which has never been improved upon - a pencil and notebook. That little implement will always be impervious to electronic failure and is 100% accurate, excepting user error.

There are those who will say, "Trust in God but keep your gun loaded." It's human nature to want to protect oneself and loved ones. Besides faith in Christ, some will choose defense and preparedness. These need not be contradictory with faith, although it may rattle us to hear a Christian friend keeps a weapon in the home. That's a constitutional right I hope we will never lose.

God has given us all kinds of gifts in this great nation. The greatest of them is the freedom to worship God as we choose and be blessed by faith in Jesus. With God's great gifts, we can survive anything.

God give you peace of mind and heart, knowing His love for you never ends.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009


In 1890, 100 starlings were let loose in America, gift of a someone who had no idea the trouble they'd cause. Today millions of these nasty black birds move in flocks around our nation with their loud raspy noise, leaving behind caustic droppings and a big mess. Nearly impossible to eliminate, they were better left in Europe where they came from.

In the early 1800's a flowering perennial was introduced from Asia and quickly went wild. This aggressive weed (convolvulus arvensis) is commonly called field bindweed, creeping jenny or charley, wild morning glory (and other names), and is nearly impossible to kill. It entwines itself around itself or other plants, seeking new places to root more plants and has earned 85 names in 29 languages, none of them kind.

Bindweed has an extensive deep network of roots and underground stems and continually tries to start new plants. Robbing water from other plants, in one season it will smother a garden or lawn if given the chance. It is impossible to stop by pulling it out, and though chemicals may kill it for a season, it will reseed itself the next year.

I once found bindweed growing inside a church! A tiny yellow plant had wound its way through a crack in the concrete floor and was growing inside the heat register. Tangled and sickly, it measured over three feet, and was doing all it could to survive in that unnatural place.

Though it may not be eliminated, the good news is that bindweed can be managed if you are patient and persistent. There are no quick-fixes for this pernicious nuisance, but it can be stopped. (Starlings, however, have yet to find their match.) Bindweed shouldn't be here, but once present, it never leaves. Because it is so persistent, some peole just give up and admire its small white flowers.

Bindweed is the closest equal to human sin I can think of. We weren't destined to have it, but once introduced into the world, it remained here forever. The fall into sin was permanent and unchecked individual sins will choke the life out of all that is good. How often do we try to stop doing this or that sin, and yet it comes back? St. Paul lamented this fact, saying, "I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing." (Romans 7:19, ESV)

All people struggle with sin. Some are overcome by it and others just deny it, accept it or even admire it. The person, however, who acknowledges sin, and goes to the throne of God's mercy in repentance, will find pardon and peace. Jesus removes our sin. He overcame it on Calvary's cross, and now it need not smother or choke us. 

Jesus has removed our sin as far as the east is from the west. And while certain sins may trouble us, they should never be accepted, as permanent and certainly not as being good. Satan constantly persuades us to accept and approve of sin. But in Jesus Christ, sin need never overcome us. 

"Thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ." (1 Corinthians 15:57)