Wednesday, January 27, 2010


Romans 8:28 says, "We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose."  Consider the story of Anthony, a member of my former congregation, who contacted me last week via Email. Anthony is a gifted young man with a successful business and a fine family, including two children he adopted. Here is what he wrote me:

"I'm coming down to Phoenix over the next two weeks for the trial of the man who allegedly killed my uncle. Certainly it is a time that makes a man think. Lately, one particular event has been in my thoughts. When my uncle was killed, his killer was not caught by police, but by five men having their weekly Bible study. The young men were meeting in a Phoenix home having their class when they heard someone trying to break into one of their cars. Not knowing who he was, the group of men caught him and held him until the police arrived.

"All of my life,"
Anthony continued, "I had been an atheist. As I became more and more versed in evolution in college, I leaned towards being an agnostic. In the months prior to my uncle's death, I came to a point where I literally said, 'God, I am ready to believe, just give me a sign.' I know one should not test or challenge God, but that was my mindset. Then we got the call about my uncle's murder and how the suspect was caught, and I saw that as the hand of God, His five fingers, reaching out to catch him. That sealed my faith, then and there."

In the days after his uncle's death in 2003, Anthony began attending Epiphany Lutheran Church. On an impulse one Sunday morning, he turned into our parking lot, and God led him to keep attending. In time he came to faith in Christ, received instruction and was baptized. I later officiated at his marriage, and baptized their infant son and his two adopted children. Anthony and Lynn are dedicated believers who bringing up their children in the nurture of the Lord Jesus.

None of this would have happened had not God so arranged it. Anthony might not have been seeking a sign, his uncle's killer might not have been apprehended by men attending a Bible Class, or he might have kept driving past church that Sunday morning But it all happened in such a way that today Anthony and his family are believers in Christ. 

When life brings us troubles, whether earthquake, illness, accident or bad judgment, whether it's random, by the will of evil people, or by our own bad decision, we need to realize God may be putting together something good for our future. Then trust Him to show you what that will be.

How has God put things together for good in your life?

Tuesday, January 19, 2010


Have you ever considered how fortunate you are to be a citizen of a free nation? What if you had been born into another country or culture, one that limited your choices or oppressed you or demanded great sacrifices from you at the hands of a terrible dictator? What would your life be like right now?

As I've been watching the news about the earthquake in Haiti, the thought has been going through my mind: I might have been born there. If I were a Haitian, how would life be for me now? If I had lived through the earthquake, how would I deal with finding food, getting medical help, or digging through rubble to find friends or family who had perished? What if I didn't have a home or food or even clean clothes? How would I handle seeing such death and destruction?

What if I didn't have a television to hear the news so I could complain about my government? What if I was starving and did not know where my next meal was coming from? How would I sleep wondering whether someone would harm me during the night? What if I was trapped under the rubble, barely alive, struggling for my next breath? What if I was straining to get a handout of food right now? How could I handle all the Haitians are facing?

These questions are not just musings of an idle mind; they are rational questions to ask ourselves. God has given us so much privilege and so many possessions. We are (over)fed, fairly healthy, wealthy by most standards, and we are free. The fact that we are reading this WEEKLY MESSAGE from a computer confirms all this. We can choose most of what we do today. We can change our surroundings, our clothes or even our minds. How blessed we are!

Jesus Christ is our Lord and Savior. If we died today, God has a place prepared in heaven for us. We were not born into a religion that twists the truth into lies, or worships a god who demands we kill those who do not believe as we do. We do not trample on the rights of others or make women into slaves or sacrifice what little we have to gods who don't exist. 

No, we are citizens of a free nation. We know Jesus Christ. We are free to alter most of the things around us, free to read the Bible and believe what it tells us. Our lives are far better than 90% of the rest of the world's population, perhaps better than anyone else we know. We have so much to be grateful for!!!

So why do we complain so much?

Monday, January 11, 2010


I was watching FoxNews the evening commentator Brit Hume witnessed to his Christian faith. He did so while urging Tiger Woods to embrace Christianity because it offers him forgiveness, whereas Woods' Buddhist teachings do not. Hume was right - Buddhism does not offer forgiveness, whereas Christianity does. Of course, Hume has been severely criticized for what he said.

We live in a country that has always offered freedom of speech and freedom of religious expression, and the two freedoms are not exclusive. We can and should be able to speak freely of our religious beliefs. Those who would say one's faith must be kept out of the public arena do not understand freedom, and are usually saying this when it's about Christianity, not any other faith. Although no freedom is absolute (you cannot yell "Fire!" in a crowded building) many freedoms are basic human rights which should always be exercised for the common good.

Those who have been villifying Hume for exercising his constitutional rights are people who equate any public expression of Christian faith with intolerance and offense. For them, religion can be tolerated so long as it is kept entirely private, not just away from government and education, but also from TV or other media. That kind of tolerance is mere intolerance, a thinly masked way of quieting those with whom one disagrees.

Hume's comments stem partly from the tragic death of his son Sandy in 1998. He recently stated, "I want to pursue my [Christian] faith more ardently than I have done. I was kind of a nominal Christian for the longest time. When my son died, I came to Christ in a way that was very meaningful to me." There's another great witness which he also spoke publicly.

Brit Hume, or any Christian, should not be surprised at the reaction to public remarks about faith in Jesus. He tells us in His Holy Scripture, "In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." (John 16:33) Scripture also tells us, "Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have." (1 Peter 3:15)

My prayer is twfold: that Tiger Woods takes Hume's words to heart, and that those against the public expression of faith would realize and repent of their intolerance.

Thanks be to God for those willing to testify publicly to their faith in Jesus, despite any expected criticism.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010


Tonight I attended my first meeting of the "Socrates Club" here at Palm Creek. We were a group of a dozen or so ordinary folks sharing ideas on the question, "What is intelligence?" I'm not sure anyone left the meeting with more intelligence, but we all had a few more ideas of what intelligence is.

Our discussion reminded me of a passage from Isaiah 29:14, "I will astound these people with wonder upon wonder; the wisdom of the wise will perish, the intelligence of the intelligent will vanish." St. Paul quoted that passage in 1 Corinthians 1:19.

Paul, though a brilliant mind, was not anti-intellectual, but he was against the humanism of his day. I have a feeling that if I remain in the Socrates Club, I will find my Christian faith questioned by some who hinted at their belief in the factuality of Darwinism.

Last week Carol and I and Brian watched an amazing one-hour move, "Our Privileged Planet." In just one hour, astrophysicists, mathematicians and philosophers showed the miraculous position our earth has in relation to the rest of the universe. If our earth were just a tiny bit closer or farther away from the center the universe, complex life could not exist. If our planet were smaller or larger, if the earth's crust were thicker or thinner, or if its atmosphere had a tiny bit more or less of its life-giving gases, humans and complex life could not exist.

Their conclusion was Intelligent Design made things the way they are. And, of course, many of those scientists on "Our Privileged Planet" have been ostracized and even fired from their university faculties for even suggesting Intelligent Design.

Certainly they have been ridiculed publicly and often by the intelligent and wise of the world. Once again it shows that intelligence has little to do with wisdom or faith. (You can get "Our Privileged Planet" through NetFlix or other video rental outlets.)

God maintains our planet with "wonder upon wonder." He has placed us in an amazing moment of time on an amazing planet which occupies an even more amazing place among the millions of other planets and stars of the universe.

What's even more incredible is that same Creator God loves all those who trust Him, and because of faith in Jesus Christ, He will give them eternal life. It doesn't take a genius to trust in Jesus, but it does take faith and humility. And there is nothing but eternity to be gained from such humility.

Wise and intelligent men and women always acknowledge and trust Him,