Tuesday, June 28, 2011


One day her husband of many years died, and on the clear, cold morning after his funeral, in the warmth of their bedroom, she was struck with the pain of realizing all the things that would be no more - no more hugs, no more special moments, no more phone calls, no more reminders when you didn't need them, not even any more occasional cranky remarks. Now she missed them - and him.

Sometimes what we care about the most - the love, the companionship, the ordinary, even the monotony - gets all used up and goes away, never to return. It can happen when we least expect it, and before we can say "good-bye", or "I love you" one more time.

So while we still have that relationship let's love him, care for her, try to fix what seems broken and heal what seems sick. This is true for marriage, parents, and children with bad report cards, friends, even old pets. We value them because they are worth it, and because we are worth it.

Some things we try to keep, like a best friend who moves away or a sister-in-law after the divorce. There are just some people that make us happy, no matter what. Life is important, like people we know who are special. So let's keep our loved ones close! In life, the good Lord gives us many people who are "keepers." Are one of those? Suppose one morning you don't wake up. Will anyone miss you, or will your friends know you loved them?

This is also true of our relationship with Jesus. Charles Templeton, a once powerful evangelist, lost his faith in Christ because he couldn't reconcile a "loving God when there was so much evil in the world." He admitted he fell from faith because he "could not believe Jesus was the only way to salvation."  He did not dodge those who questioned him about his loss of faith, and tried to remain open to God. Just prior to his death he sadly admitted he "missed Jesus." He wished he could have kept the faith and what it gave him. But once he lost faith, he never got it back.

There are some precious relationships that do not last, that go away and leave us. Jesus does not have to be one of those. Christianity is not based on a relationship with a set of beliefs, but with a real person, Jesus Christ who lived, died and rose from the dead. God calls us to trust Him, not a holy book or a doctrinal formula. God calls us to a relationship of faith in a person who truly lived - and still lives, His only Son. When we trust Jesus, no matter how terrible the world or life may seem, He will give us what we need.

Jesus gives us back what we have lost, and it will be so much better than we remember it being.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011


I'm a little late in getting out today's WEEKLY MESSAGE due to some house cleaning chores being tackled this morning. Now before husbands start groaning and wives get to telling husbands, "See, he does it!" you need to know this kind of cleaning is done to avoid spending. Our house is about 25 years old and we've never redecorated the main floor interior. We like it pretty much the way it is, so to avoid the cost of papering, painting, etc, I purposefully give it an annual housecleaning - walls, windows, floors, etc. That's why I'm late today; enough said!

But at least I spread it over a day or two rather than do it all in one day like I used to. It's a basic human trait to take things to an extreme. If a little is good, we think more must be better. If soon is good, quicker must be better. But often we find this leads to doing things wrong. I recall once in haste tossing out a boxful of items that I had to replace for a few hundred dollars. Or getting that day what I could have gotten at half price the next day.

We are encouraged these days to plan ahead, and that only by careful planning can we maximize the best use of our time or resources. But we seldom know all that is coming. We wake up with a list of important things to do and have an auto accident on the way to work. We carefully work out a schedule for the day, then break our ankle walking down some steps. It reminds me of a good poem I read recently. It's called:

"IN HIS HANDS," (by Betty Purser Patten)
We know not what tomorrow brings Although we plan ahead,
For only God alone can know The pathway we must tread.

We cannot know the future, Not one minute nor one hour;
Each circumstance that we must face Lay only in His power.

It's vital that we live by faith From minute unto minute,
And trusting that each step we take He's walking with us in it.

We cannot see the future, Nor the trials we must face;
But in all things, God promised us Sufficiency of grace.

This alone should give us hope, Whatever be our plans,
In knowing that our future lies In His great, loving hands.

The Apostle James (Jesus' half brother) once wrote, "Now listen, you who say, 'Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.' Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, 'If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that'.” (James 4:13-15) Enough said there, too!

I probably should get back to house cleaning. The rest of today and all our tomorrows are truly "In His Hands." May each of us find time to give Him thanks they are.

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Tuesday, June 14, 2011


Do you "Jumble?" Every day most newspapers in the comics section will have a list of scrambled words, and the game is to unscramble them. That's called Jumbling, and I do it almost every day now. At first unscrambling even one word took awhile, but with practice I learned to do them more quickly. Most times now I can unscramble all four words in about a minute. Jumbling keeps my mind alert, and Carol says I need that. 

Of course, there's that "impossible" word, at least until the solution becomes clear. Then I'm surprised how obvious that word was. It was so simple - how could I have missed it? I've also found that jumbled words are easier to solve if you put the letters in a circle. Little helps can solve big problems.

Often our life can seem jumbled. We can see the parts, but they don't make sense. We may believe there's a solution, but we can't see its purpose or meaning. That's when we need a little help (nd I don't mean a computer "unscrambler"- that's only for emergencies).

A jumbled life makes more sense if we look into the Bible. There the solution becomes more obvious if we will trust Him and His Word. God may not give us a clear answer, but His Word guides us to make more correct decisions or actions. I've found the more I seek God's Word and ways, the more clear life's solutions become. 

Some problems are always going to jumble our lives, because they may well be impossible to solve this side of heaven. We will always make mistakes, so we will always need God's forgiveness. The most obedient Christian can still stumble and fall down, usually when (s)he is self-satisfied and least expecting it.

But we don't need to stay down. When we fall, God or His people can lift us up again, dust us off and point us in the right direction if we will let them. That's why the Bible tells us, "God's Word is a lamp for our feet and a light for our path." (Psalm 119:105)

Please show me the way, Lord!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011


Christians believe there is a heaven, but most are unsure what it is like. Last week I read "HEAVEN IS FOR REAL," by Todd Burpo, the story of his four year-old Colton who had a near-death experience during surgery, and who later said he had visited heaven. His parents are convinced he really did visit heaven because of three things: 1) His knowledge of what was happening in the hospital during his surgery, 2) His claim that he met a sister he never knew even existed (his mother had miscarried before he was born and had never told him), and 3) His declaration that he met his great-grandfather, a man he'd never met but later identified from photographs of the man at a young age.

What amazed me was that Colton was only four years old when he describes in great detail his visit to heaven. Most four year-olds are just learning to talk in sentences, let alone describe complex scenes. He is certainly a bright child, but there is more to his descriptions than mere intelligence. The other element, witnessed by dozens of medical personnel at the hospital, was the amazing recovery of this boy who was given little chance of survival after living five days with a ruptured appendix.

Needless to say, the book's premise, plus its success (nearly four million sold, three weeks #1 on USA Today's Best-Seller list), has created an enlivened discussion among both believers and skeptics. Even the brilliant physicist Stephen Hawking got into the discussion, saying since there is no heaven or afterlife, the book "...is a fairy story for people afraid of the dark.”

I believe there are only two ways one might approach this: 1) Colton's father invented the story about heaven, or, 2) Colton's experience was real and true. Only this family and the Lord know the full story, but a reading of the book could also spark a discussion about the nature of heaven.

What do you think heaven in like? Can we find reliable information about it from sources other than the Bible? Is heaven for most people a compilation of information and imagination? The question for me is can I believe a child's vision of heaven is true? There is a little skeptic in all adults, yet there are so few reliable accounts of heavenly visions that we must look to what others with experience have to say.

I think the boy's vision is true, and therefore I must accept that he was for those few minutes in heaven. What he described could not have been invented by a four year-old child who had never been previously told what he saw and/or described. But it's doubtful many will believe his story. We adults are more content to accept what we know than what others, especially children, tell us.

Yet it was our Lord Jesus who told us, “Unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven." (Matthew 18:13)

I think I will pray for the Stephen Hawkings of this world.