Tuesday, September 27, 2011



This is what the news desk people want us to think. This is what the environmental experts want us to believe. This is what religious skeptics think the Bible really says. This is what many struggling people see around them.


Is there really a lack of good news? Have we come to believe life today should have no troubles? Is God just a construct of our imagination? Should someone else fix our problems?


May you all have a nice day!

Monday, September 19, 2011


In a well-known children's book, someone says: "If you don't know where you are going, any road will get you there." Have you heard that phrase before? The principle character from Lewis Carol's classic children's book spoke those words, Alice, from Alice in Wonderland. Then this wise but confused little girl asks, "Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?"

This reminds me of the true story about Dr. Albert Einstein who lost his ticket and was searching for it as he rode on the train. The conductor assured him not to worry, that he surely must have bought one, but Einstein kept looking for his ticket. Finally, the conductor said, "Sir, don't worry - we know who you are." Einstein responded quite firmly, "I know who I am also, sir, but I don't know where I am going!" It is possible to be brilliant, yet not know where you are going.

I wonder how many people reading this WEEKLY MESSAGE know where they are going. I say this not in jest or sarcasm, but in sincerity. It seems to me that more and more people in our nation do not really know where they are going. They may have a good idea where they are or what they are doing, but not what is coming, nor whom they should follow. I wonder how many would echo Alice's words, "Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?"

And I wonder who will step up with God's answer: "TRUST IN JESUS CHRIST!"

Ann Graham Lotz, daughter of Rev. Dr. Billy Graham, is in the news again with her straight forward expression of Christian faith. On CBS's "Early Show" on Sept. 13, she said, "I say God is also angry when he sees something like this (the 9-11-01 disaster).  I would say also for several years now Americans in a sense have shaken their fist at God and said, 'God, we want You out of our schools, our government, our business, and we want You out of our marketplace.' And God, who is a gentleman, has just quietly backed out of our national and political life, our public life, removing His hand of blessing and protection. We need to turn to God first of all and say, 'God, we're sorry we have treated You this way and we invite You now to come into our national life. We put our trust in You. We have put that we trust You on our coins, and now we need to practice it."

Ms. Lotz' thoughts should be pondered by all believing Christians. She also believes Christ will return "In our generation," although I struggle with this in light of Christ's words of Matthew 24:36, "No one knows that day nor hour, not even the angels in heaven or the Son, but only the Father." Ms. Lotz' warning can remind us all to be ready by faith in Jesus, no matter what the time is.

If I am ready by faith, then I need fear nothing that is to come. I pray this for all of you.

Monday, September 12, 2011


"What were you doing when the towers came crashing down?" We've been asked that question often the past few days during the anniversary of 9-11-01. I was constructing the roadside sign for Epiphany Lutheran of Castle Rock, the mission church we had started in 1999. The roofer about 200 feet away called down to me what had happened on the east coast that morning.

What were you doing? A better question might be, "What have you been doing since then?" My pastor in his sermon yesterday spoke of our need to forgive our enemies, asking us to ponder Peter's question to Jesus, "How many times must I forgive my brother when he sins against me?" (Matthew 18:21)

I would like to re-phrase Peter's question: What does it mean to forgive my brother? What must I do when I forgive? What is forgiveness and what is it not? Let me try to help answer.

Forgiveness is giving up one's right of retribution, the right to strike back when evil has been done. Forgiveness is what the offended person does. Forgiveness is the hurt person releasing his/her hold on the one who has done the hurting. Forgiveness does not require repentance from the offender; it requires mercy from the offended. St. Paul showed us this in Romans 5:8: "While we were still sinners, Christ died for us."

Forgiveness requires a change of heart for the offended person. This is why it can be so difficult, but also so liberating. But forgiveness is also necessary. Explaining the Lord's Prayer, Jesus made this clear: "If you do not forgive your brother his trespass, neither will your Father forgive your trespass." (Matthew 6:15) The unforgiving heart needs cleansing.

Withholding forgiveness does not harm the offender, it harms the offended. Consider the enraged parishioner, offended by his pastor or church, who shouts, "Don't give me any of that forgiveness junk!" Not forgiving hurts us and poisons our heart, not the object of our anger. Think about this, and then pray the words of this prayer:

"Heavenly Father, we come before you today to ask your forgiveness and to seek your direction and guidance. We know Your Word says, 'Woe to those who call evil good,' but that is exactly what we have done. We have lost our spiritual equilibrium and reversed our values. We have exploited the poor and called it the lottery. We have rewarded laziness and called it welfare. We have killed our unborn and called it choice. We have shot abortionists and called it justifiable. We have neglected to discipline our children and called it building self esteem. We have abused power and called it politics. We have coveted our neighbor's possessions and called it ambition. We have polluted the air with profanity and pornography and called it freedom of expression. We have ridiculed the time-honored values of our forefathers and called it enlightenment. Forgive us, Oh God, and search our hearts today. Cleanse us from every sin and set us free.  

Amen and Amen!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011


Today I have a question for those who are married. Do you recall how your marriage proposal took place? Was it in a staged special event, or did you "pop the question" in a quick and surprising manner? I am sure if all married persons reading this WEEKLY MESSAGE listed the way their proposal took place, I'd have a diverse list of romantic, surprising, glitzy, and even silly ways marriage proposals were made.

I have also heard of some very unique ways. In one case, there was no actual proposal (He: "When would you like to get married?"), no direct answer (She: "How about Thanksgiving?") That proposal occurred 25 married years ago. Another young man simply washed his girlfriend's feet and then proposed. His "modest proposal" showed he understood that humility would be one of the bases for their lifelong commitment.

Humility is significant in human relationships, and today it is often hard to find. St. Paul wrote, "Let nothing be done through selfish ambition" (Philippians 2:3). Jesus said, "Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven." (Matthew 18:4) Who but a true Christian would want to have that attitude in today's world of pride and ambition?

Last Saturday I watched the World Track and Field Championships from South Korea. I couldn't help but contrast Jesus' attitude with Jamaican sprinter Hussein Bolt, who, before and after each of his races, puts on such a show of braggardly flaunting that it's difficult even to watch. Another athlete, hurdler Sally Pearson of Australia, shouted and jumped for joy for several minutes after running a flawless race in record time, and that was fun to watch.

There is a huge difference between demonstrating the joy of winning and showing one's prideful conceit and self-promotion. There is an even greater difference between selfishness and humility.
What can you do today to humbly serve the one you love? What can you do today to humbly serve the Lord who, "…humbled Himself to the point of death, even death on the cross." (Philippians 2:8)

Placing someone else's needs before your own is the Christ-like way.

My Kindle Books:
"SMALL TOWN PREACHER":  http://www.amazon.com/dp/B005G0FST2
"COUNTRY PREACHER":   http://www.amazon.com/dp/B005BZL3V4
"DAILY WALK WITH JESUS":  http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0050VRJX0
"MURDER AT PALM CREEK":  http://www.amazon.com/dp/B005EMMBQU