Monday, July 28, 2014


Most every year when my wife and I take our annual trip to visit family in the midwest, we travel the same route. After crossing Colorado and Nebraska, we pass through Sioux City, Iowa, and follow Highway 60 northeast into Minnesota. Over the years they've made many improvements to that road, and although we no longer pass through the many quaint Iowa towns, we enjoy the new road.

The first ten miles into Minnesota is a different story.  For ten to twelve years now that stretch has laid unfinished, delayed, I'm told, by an ongoing haggle between state and city governments. That segment may still not be done.

The first year we nearly got stuck when we drove onto the unfinished roadbed that was not identified by signs. The finished road just ended, and we sailed out into the mud. During the years since, we've followed sign after detour sign taking us far out of the way until we finally get back to Highway 60. Each year we've been disappointed to find the road incomplete, so I think we'll take another route this year.

We're all traveling a road of life. Some roads we choose seem right and lead us to expect good things. Some roads of life are just plain bad, but we keep taking them anyway. A bad road will not make itself better. Hoping a road will be better will not make it so. We need to travel a different road.

There are times we need to get stuck to realize we can't go that way again. Maybe it will take getting ourselves so clogged with the mud of foolish choices that we will finally see our need for help. We don't just need a better road, and we need a map to show us where best to travel.

That road map is the Bible. It tells us our Good Lord walked the way of sorrows on earth to forgive us our sins. He was mired in the mud and the blood of Calvary so we could have a way out. He got stuck for us, but He got out, too.

Now Jesus wants to travel with us, and if we let Him, He will show us a better way. Traveling with Him is an amazing adventure. He's there when we have an accident, and He shows us a better way when we get confused. When Jesus is by our side, we may still take a wrong turn, but we won't get totally lost. He knows the right way and will lead us there if we will just let Him.

Remember what He has told us in His famous "Good Shepherd" Psalm? "He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name's sake." (Psalm 23:3) He really does! Follow Him, and He'll show the Good Road to heaven.

Which road of life will you travel today?

Sunday, July 20, 2014


My son received some good news last Saturday - his automatic transmission does not need to be overhauled. His twelve year-old Ford truck has lots and lots of miles on it and he noticed it was shifting hard, so he parked it and drove his other vehicle. After a week, he took it to High Country Transmission, a very good repair shop near his home. I know it's very good because I had another transmission repaired there (and also baptized the owner's son).

Saturday Brian called that the diagnostics show the tranny is okay. It just needed a thorough servicing. (Translation: fluid and filter need replacing) That's great news since a transmission rebuild is a big ticket item these days.

Power train items don't usually fall apart over night; they get that way with time. Little by little with constant shifting, heating and cooling, dirt and sludge build up and will damage internal parts. Without periodic fluid and filter change, it will break down.

It's just like people. We ignore our relationship with God and let all kinds of "gunk" into our lives that come between us and others, especially between us and God. Without regular spiritual cleanups through confession, prayer and Holy Communion, we start to "shift" harder until we come to a spiritual stop. We need regular spiritual check-ups to stay close to God.

King David got himself into big trouble with another man's wife and knew he had dirt in his life. In Psalm 51 he said, "Cleanse me, O Lord, with hyssop and I will be clean; wash me and I will be whiter than snow." Good words to remember when we feel spiritually sluggish and run-down.

Today give thanks to your Lord Jesus that He gave His life for you on Calvary. When we believe He is God's Son and trust Him to forgive us, we can be confident God will not toss us into that eternal Junk Yard.

Does your spiritual power train need servicing? Overhauling?

Monday, July 14, 2014


Psalm 133 says, "Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity! It is like precious oil poured on the head, running down on the beard, running down on Aaron’s beard, down on the collar of his robe. It is as if the dew of Hermon were falling on Mount Zion. For there the Lord bestows his blessing, even life forevermore."

Unity among people is a great blessing from God. We see and hear so much discord around us today, at home and abroad. Political factions shout at and accuse each other, pointing fingers of blame but doing little to unify our country. World terrorists seem never satisfied and blame the “infidels” of the world for the destruction and havoc they create.

But when we do see a group of people acting together, caring for each other and working towards an admirable goal, it is wonderful. David, the writer of Psalm 133, probably wrote these words when he was made king at Hebron after many years of conflict under King Saul’s unpredictable reign. This Psalm was his praise to God at the the joy of seeing His people cooperate and make peace.

Scripture tells us at Aaron’s dedication as high priest, the anointing oil saturated his head and ran onto his robes, signifying his total consecration to God’s holy service. To know that someone is so totally dedicated to God is “good and pleasant.” 

The second image used here is the dew on Mt. Hermon in northern Israel. At 8,000 feet high, its sides were lush with vegetation due to the rain and snow, which eventually creates the Jordan River that flows all the way south to the Dead Sea. That kind of rain would also make parts of Israel lush and fruitful, and “good and pleasant” and a blessing on Jerusalem. 

I was raised in a large family. It was not uncommon that some of us boys didn’t live in peace, and I recall our mother saying, “I just wish people wouldn’t argue.” Mom liked a peaceful house, one that was “good and pleasant where brothers dwelt in unity.” (paraphrase)

Peace and contentment is wonderful, but it rarely lasts long, whether in families or among nations. So long as there is sin, there will be quarreling. We give thanks for God’s forgiveness in Jesus Christ that brings us back together with Him and also with each other.

Lord Jesus, grant peace and love in Your world and especially in Your Church. Amen

Sunday, July 6, 2014


Have you ever left an event too early? Maybe it was a ballgame that seemed over, so you left and on your way home you heard your team won in the last minutes. But you'd left early because you were certain how it would end. Or you no longer cared, but either way you missed seeing what you came for.

Carol and I did something like that last Friday evening, July 4. We had sat in our car over a half an hour on a lovely overlook waiting for the fireworks to start. We did enjoy a few exploding rockets here and there. We had heard there would be fireworks, but it seemed they were over, so we went home. Along the way we saw groups of people sitting by the roadside. We, of course, were sure there was no more, so we went home to watch fireworks on TV. Nice, but just not the same.

Within minutes of closing the garage door the largest fireworks display our town has seen in years started going off only a mile or two from our house. We went outside, but trees hid most of it and then it was over. We should have waited longer, but we missed it. Oh well, there's always next year.

The idea of leaving early seemed the thing to do. After all, we're Rockies fans, and we're used to saying there's always next year. Missing a winning game or fireworks really isn't that important in the big picture of life, but there's still some regret.

However there might not be a next time or a next year with something really important, like missing out on heaven and landing in hell. People don't talk much about hell these days. The idea of God casting us into a pit of flames or making us suffer agonies of a lake of fire seems far-fetched for a loving God. 

Consider this - hell would be bad enough if it was an eternity of knowing you missed out being with God! You didn't take God seriously, so you turned your back on Him or were too busy or became disinterested or some other reason. 

And now in hell you can see the believers rejoicing in God's presence, but you can't because you missed it! There's deep regret in knowing you could have had it  and can never get it back. That would be hell of the worst kind.

Perhaps the small regrets we have in life today are given to remind us of the greatest regret of missing out being with God. Maybe we'd better not say no to Him again. Maybe we'd better not turn our back on God again. 

But we can  be sure of this: He'll be there waiting if we turn back to Him now. Isaiah 55:7 says, "Let them turn to the Lord, and He will have mercy on them, and to our God, for He will freely pardon." That's Good News if there ever was any.

Is any reason for turning our back on God worth what we will miss?