Monday, March 29, 2010


Jimmy was a sick little seven year-old. Despite the best care and medicine, his health was not improving. His mother and father tried hard each day to bring him a little joy. They taught him about Jesus and the Bible and how Jesus went through struggles and great sadness during Lent. Then one Sunday his mother said, "Lent will soon be over, Jimmy. The sadness of Lent will soon come to a happy ending with the joy of Easter. And to celebrate, you're getting a puppy!"

Jimmy was so excited! He could hardly sleep the night before they went to the pet shop. The next day he was all smiles as he looked and looked at the puppies in the pet shop window. "Have you decided which one you want?" asked his Daddy several times. Finally Jimmy said, "Yes!" and pointed to one near the glass that was enthusiastically wagging its tail. "I want that brown one with the happy ending. I"m going to call him EASTER!" "Happy ending? Easter?" his Dad puzzled. Jimmy explained, "Mom said Easter is a happy ending, and that puppy's back end looks happiest of them all!"

I am sure that was an unforgettable Holy Week for Jimmy and his parents - a first puppy is always a wonderful time. But not everyone will be happy this Holy Week and Easter. There will be plenty of tears over sorrow, disappointment, poverty, war and tragedy. People, whether faithful Christians or not, will experience sadness, stress and struggles as Easter approaches. We all look forward to Lent's happy ending with Easter Day.

We need to remember that Easter is a happy ending to the sadness of sin. On the cross Christ has forgiven us. His glorious resurrection can turn our tears of sadness into tears of joy. Tears on Easter? Yes, tears of a happy ending to all the suffering, pain and death in the world.

Those who have known great sadness can best say HAPPY EASTER and mean it!

Monday, March 22, 2010


Have you ever met someone you weren't expecting, and it was a wonderful event? I have a great story to tell about how this happened to me the Friday before last.

Carol and I were on a short trip with another couple. Instead of driving it in one day, we decided to take two days, staying overnight along the way. Fellow traveller Dan booked us into a motel and said he'd pay for both rooms since we were driving our car. Dan checked us in so I didn't talk to the motel receptionist.

Later that night, he spoke with her in the computer room and discovered she was from Minnesota -- Windom, in fact. When he told her I was also from Windom, she asked my name and nearly fainted. It was my cousin Jodi behind the counter, and we had not seen each other in 25 years. She was living with her sister Bev, so we cousins had a mini-reunion and spent the evening reminiscing. And we did it just in time, since Jodi was moving to another city in a few days.

There were lots of "ifs" here -- if we'd have made the whole trip in one day, if Dan had chosen another motel, if he hadn't gone to the computer room, if we'd have come a few days later, if Jodi had that day off -- if, if, if. But the Lord brought us together after all those years. He really can be a God of surprises.

I often wonder if we'll be surprised at whom we'll see in heaven. Will we be shocked or pleased? Will others be as surprised to see us as we are to see them? Or will any of these earthly concerns even matter then? I believe heaven will be a wonderful reunion, and we'll be only pleased at who is there. Heaven will have none of the pettiness like this earth, and we will be surrounded by the greatness of God's mercy and joy.

It was also a joy to hear Jodi speak of her Christian faith. We even spoke a Bible passage together, Proverbs 3:5-6: "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." I don't recall us talking to about God when we were young, but our faith now gives us a bond we didn't have before.

I hope Jodi and I can meet again soon, and one day be in heaven together!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010


What are you doing with your life? What's your purpose for being on earth? In a recent discussion of such fundamental questions with some fellow Sr. Citizens, I heard answers that ranged from the noble, "Serving God and/or mankind" to the ignoble, "Biding my time till I die." Some were not sure they wanted to deal with the question. I wonder why.

How people answer will depend on one's beliefs and what stage of life they are in, as well as what they need to do, such as making a living, providing for family, or fulfilling a major obligation. It also depends on what they would like to do in life. Answers might also depend on one's resources, interests and abilities.

Where you live is also a consideration. If you live in a developed country that offers safety, good schools, reliable health services, and a stable government, you have the luxury of choices that people in underdeveloped countries do not have. If you have little, your choices will be more limited than those who have much.

In many places on earth, survival is life's major purpose. Survivors are not worried about lower taxes, health care options, gas mileage or clothing styles. They just want to be able to wake up in the morning, go to work, and make enough to live without starving. When's the last time you worried about those things?

But we all need to ask ourselves what we are doing in life. Ecclesiastes 3:12-13 says, "I know that there is nothing better for men than to be happy and do good while they live. That everyone may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all his toil—this is the gift of God."

God urges us in Holy Scripture to serve Him by serving mankind in such a way as to make the world and its people better. American citizens are often torn between self-indulgence and self-sacrifice. It's not that we should feel guilty having some measure of wealth, it's what we do with it. Money is not just meant to be spent, but to be spent wisely. Time is not ours to waste, it is ours to use well.

Words of wisdom for us all!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010


The Christian Golden Rule is this: "Do to others, as you would have them do to you," (Matthew 7:12 NIV). The Confucian version of the Golden Rule says simply, "Do not do," meaning to leave other folks alone. Build your wall around your life, and I'll build mine. Each of us can retreat to our own private space so that we won't step on each other's toes.

Jesus, on the other hand, said we should get involved in other people's lives. He wants us to take the risk of loving others. He also said: "Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends." (John 15:13). We learned this quite graphically in the heroic efforts our soldiers, firemen, first responders and so many people in the helping professions.

When you see a man lying in a ditch, Confucian ethics allows you to pass him by, but the ethics of Jesus Christ praises the Samaritan, a foreigner who actively involved himself in the needy person's life. The difference between these two views is as profound as the difference between self-interest and self-sacrifice. Leaving others alone may be more comfortable, and entering into others' lives carries the risk of rejection. But following Jesus' teaching enriches lives - theirs and ours.

Letting others alone may give us extra leisure time, but it won't be as memorable as visiting a nursing home. People who say Christianity is just an ethical formulation ignore the fact that no one would make up a religion so contrary to human nature and our basic instincts as Christianity.

Here are "Ten Rules for Being Happy": Do something unselfishly helpful for someone in need, and then repeat the act for nine more people!

Help us live Your Golden Rule, Lord!