Monday, June 21, 2010


We do not always know the effect we have on other people, and we certainly do not know what the future holds. But we can be sure of this: God has a plan for you, and it's a good plan. His plan for your life may involve some struggle, but it is for your benefit. You will need to trust God, and let Him do His work. As the saying goes, we should "Let go and let God", meaning stop trying to do everything yourself and let God do the amazing things in your life that only He can and will do.

In 1850 John Egglen went to church in a hard snowstorm. He was the newly elected deacon in his rural England church, so he went to open the building. But it had snowed so much that only about a dozen people showed up. Even the pastor was snowed in and couldn't come. The few people there talked of going home, but John said, no, they'd come for worship and so he would lead it.

John had never led worship before, so he had them sang a hymn or two. John then read from the Bible and talked about Jesus. In the group was a fourteen year-old boy named Charles. Deacon John preached only about 10 minutes and didn't quite know how to end his message, until he finally looked right at the boy and said, "Young man, look to Jesus. Look, look, look to Jesus!" Later as an adult that boy wrote, "I did look, and a cloud on my heart lifted, the darkness rolled away, and at that moment I saw the sun."

That boy was Charles Haddon Spurgeon, who became England's greatest preacher. Did Deacon John knew what he did? No. Did God know what He was doing? Yes! God had a plan, a good plan. Spurgeon's life wasn't easy, but his powerful sermons about the Lord Jesus changed the hearts of many thousands, perhaps millions of people during his lifetime. Praise God that He does such things among ordinary men.

Let go and Let God!

Monday, June 14, 2010


Do you have a recent immigrant among your family or friends? As part-time resident of Arizona, and also son of an immigrant mother, I have strong opinions about immigration. I am also grandfather to an adopted legal baby girl born of illegal parents, and, God willing, soon will be grandfather to an adopted legal immigrant baby girl. All this has made me consider how God wants us to relate to immigrants, both legal and illegal.

It's tempting to think answers about immigration are all simple, but that's just not true. On the one hand, God's Word speaks to us about the need to welcome and care for the stranger and alien, "For yourselves were once aliens in the land." (Deuteronomy 10:19) On the other, it also says, "Everyone must submit to the governing authorities." (Romans 13:1) Do Christians have one mindset relating to legals and another for illegals? How should we deal with this conflicting problem?

Immigration will happen in our time just as it has always happened. People move so their needs are met, whether for food, fields or freedom. It all began when Adam and Eve moved from the Garden after rebelling against God. People will also move where workers are needed. Europe and the Americas today have such a low birth rates that workers must move in from other people groups. Europe is being filled by Muslim workers and America mostly by Hispanics. Do these people bring only potential problems, or are they also opportunities to show God's grace and share the Gospel?

This spring I've led two Bible studies relating to immigration, and tensions always arise quickly as we discuss issues. We are concerned about our nation. We want our homes and loved ones to be safe. We don't always see the inevitability of migration or the national need for more workers. It is too easy to let our emotions control the conversation because of our vested interests.

I have some questions for you: (1) Is immigration necessary for America because our birthrate is too low to support future economic needs? (2) Who would you rather have crossing our borders, whether legally or not: Hispanics or Muslims? (3) How should we consider those who come: as potential friends and workers or as enemies? (4) What would Jesus say if He were talking to us today about this?

Solutions will be complex and will take time. Our government leaders certainly won't have all the answers. Opinions we hold today may need to change tomorrow. Let's not have our emotions guide the whole discussion. The reality of immigration, whether legal or illegal, will be with us for a lifetime. May God's grace and mercy guide us in word and deed.

"I was a stranger, and you welcomed me." (Jesus speaks in Matthew 25:35)

Tuesday, June 8, 2010


A few days ago I was reading about Jonah, one of those guys we love to use as an example of all that is bad in us. He ran away from his responsibilities, gave excuses, felt sorry for himself, and complained. He was generally bitter about life, and his jumping overboard seems more acceptance of fate than being courageous. When Jonah finally obeyed God, he became angry that God was merciful. We don't name our children Jonah because he isn't much of an example to follow.

Yet Jonah wasn't the only person to run. There is an impressive list of important people of the Bible who were runaways. Jacob ran from Esau, Moses ran from Pharoah, David ran from Saul and Elijah ran from Jezebel. Peter and the other disciples all ran away the night Jesus was arrested. It all began when Adam and Eve ran to hide when they heard the voice of God in the Garden. We might even make a case for Luther running away from life when he joined a monastary.

We all run at some point in our life, but I'm not referring to those who run to keep in shape. Around here I see quite a few people doing that, especially on Sunday morning. I prefer walking to running. A person can think better while walking and avoid twisting an ankle in potholes and pebbles. If you're walking away from your troubles, it's a shorter distance back home. 

What are you running from right now? Are you fleeing a stale marriage or a stack of bills? Are you running in circles at your job, running from church to church, or chasing the illusion of a perfect house? Is your new car or RV purchase really just another search for happiness in something you can buy? 

Jesus is the Savior of all runaways. He understands our frustrations and feelings. He runs with us while we're searching for happiness and is there waiting with open arms when we come back home. But do we really trust Him? Do we believe Christ's words that we are forgiven? 

A recent daily devotional had a prayer: "Jesus, forgive me for my past, walk with me in my present, and keep my safe and secure in the future you have in store for me." I encourage you to pray those words often, because they will help your faith.

If you're running, maybe it's time to slow down, check the course you're on, and run with Jesus!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010


Memorial Day was a time to remember, and like many of you, I did remember with gratitude all the soldiers, sailors, and airmen who have made sacrifices for us. I also remembered some of my ancestors who are buried in a cemetery somewhere. I even took a little time to remember things of days gone by, days of youth when we didn't worry about immigration, oil spills, deployment or health insurance.

Do you remember when we played hide and seek at dusk, and ate Mom's fresh carmel rolls or warm buttered bread and jelly and didn't feel guilty? Do you recall playing with cousins, running through sprinklers, catching lightening bugs, sitting on the porch with friends and playing Cowboys and Indians? Do you remember penny candy, hopscotch, push lawn mowers, doing the chores, eating liverwurst sandwiches, or playing dodgeball? Did you lick the egg beaters when Mom made a cake, or watched a car audometer turn over at 100,000 miles, or laughed so hard at your friends' silly jokes that your stomach hurt?

I can remember when nearly everyone's Mom was at home after school, a quarter was a decent allowance, and everyone picked up a penny. I can also remember country school, gathering eggs and licking green stamps. It doesn't seem long ago that gay meant a good time, Mom made dish towels out of 50 lb. flour sacks, laundry detergent came with a free glass inside, or it was a great privilege go to a restaurant with your parents. I actually do recall the last time someone filled my car with gas, washed the windshield and checked the oil! I can still feel the fear of being sent to the principal's office, but that was nothing compared to getting a switch from my Dad!

Memorial Day this year brought back memories. Of course, we have also forgotten all the flies, sweat, cleaning barns, race riots, flat tires, and snowy TV. We have replaced our fear of atomic bombs, being drafted and polio with fear of AIDs, terrorists and school shootings. Pastors are no longer the final word on the Bible, and Congress is no longer the final word on anything. 

But we do not live in the past and we should be glad for it. God is so very good to us today, with blessings unimagined a few decades ago. Today we are blessed with living longer and more leisurely, and we take for granted cheaper and better clothing, better communication, better roads, wonderful medicines and fine homes. Despite the cynacism of academia, it's a joy to read of intellects acknowledging God. Despite some churches adopting teachings contrary to the Bible, more laymen are reading God's Word and finding eternal life in its pages. And for all this, I say:

"O Give thanks to the Lord, for He is Good; His love endures forever."