Monday, March 30, 2015


        I learned to drive out in an alfalfa field. My Dad took me out there one day in his old Chevy pickup and showed me how the gear shift worked and how to use the clutch and gas pedal. I didn’t do very well at first, stalling and jerking a lot, but after an hour or so I could operate it fairly well. Until I received my driver’s license, I only drove on gravel roads around home. My brother taught me how to drive on ice one winter day on a frozen lake. Learning to turn into a slide has helped me often on slippery roads.
        I took one lesson with our school Driver’s Training teacher and then failed my driving test with a score of 46. The officer told me to take more lessons, so  I did. My Dad drove with me around the country roads and in town until I was better. Two weeks later I passed with a score of 80.
        Fortunately, that’s not how my sons learned to drive. I did take each of them to a large empty parking lot and showed them some basics, but they learned to drive from a qualified instructor. Every driver discovers the written test is easier to pass than the driving test. A twelve year-old could probably read the book and pass the written test, but getting behind the wheel and driving is harder.
        This is also true in our Christian faith. We can learn the basics of the Commandments, Prayer, Holy Communion or the Creed. But putting our learning into practice requires a lot more. Knowing the information is basic, but living and making daily decisions from the Word puts our faith to the real test. Living the Christian life requires more than mere knowledge, it requires faith. A qualified instructor can help, too.
        In Matthew 11:29, Jesus said, “Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me.” When we place our trust in Him and try our best to follow His will, we will learn a better way of life. Fortunately for us all, the Holy Spirit will help us put Christ’s Word into action.

Do you remember your first time behind the wheel?

Monday, March 23, 2015


          In Fairplay, Colorado, there is a church named after a remarkable man, Rev. Sheldon Jackson (1834 – 1909). As a Presbyterian missionary, Jackson travelled a half million miles and established over a hundred missions and churches mostly in the Western United States.
          Jackson wanted to become an overseas missionary, but his church board told the five foot tall man that his weak eyesight and ill health made him be better suited for ministry in the USA. Thus, he began work in the central and western states until after the Civil War. Jackson's first assignment was at the Choctaw mission in Oklahoma Territory. From there he was a missionary to natives in Minnesota and Wisconsin, where he organized or assisted in establishing 23 churches.
          With the completion of the transcontinental railroad in 1869, Jackson went on an ambitious missionary tour that often resulted in establishing a church in a day. He soon became the Missions Superintendent for Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, Utah, Arizona and New Mexico, publishing a denominational newspaper and supervising the building of churches in 22 Colorado towns.
          The continental US was not his only mission ground. In 1877, Jackson began working in Alaska among the native peoples by founding schools and training centers. He even made two trips into Russian Siberia to help bring reindeer to some of its native people. Though he discouraged the use of indigenous cultures and religions, he still collected artifacts so their cultures would not be lost. He became the First General Agent of Education in Alaska and died in 1909 at age 75 while attending a conference. Many churches in Alaska, Colorado and other states are named after him still today.
          Rev. Sheldon Jackson’s incredible ministry was to do one thing: to teach people about Jesus. Apostle Paul wrote of the same purpose in 1 Corinthians 2:2, “For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.” I’m sure Jackson and Paul have much to discuss in eternity.

Isn’t it amazing what some people can accomplish in their lifetime?

Monday, March 16, 2015


The first sheep simply jumped to its death that morning. Then shocked Turkish shepherds watched as nearly 1,500 other sheep followed, each leaping off the cliff. It all began after the men had left the herd to graze nearby while they had breakfast. In the end, 450 dead animals lay on top of one another in a billowy white pile at the bottom of the cliff, the Turkish newspaper, Aksam, reported. Another thousand from the flock also jumped but were saved as the pile of the dead cushioned their fall.
“There’s nothing we can do. They’re all wasted,” said a member of one of 26 families whose sheep were in that herd. The estimated total loss to the families in the town of Gevas in eastern Turkey, was 100,000 Turkish Lira ($75,000), a huge amount where the average annual income is $2,700 per person. “Every family had an average of 20 sheep,” another villager said. “But now only a few families have sheep left. It’s going to be hard for us.”
What caused this tragedy? Why did the sheep go over the cliff? The answer is simple and yet somewhat mysterious: Because all the others were doing it. One jumped and the rest followed.
People and sheep have a lot in common. Most of us will follow a leader, as long as he seems to be doing good things for us. But if our leader leads selfishly and destructively, following him over the cliff will be foolish.
The Bible refers to people as sheep (Psalm 100:3, Isaiah 53:6, Matthew 9:36). We are easily distracted and susceptible to group influence, often following the crowd rather than realizing it is going wrong and choosing a better way.
Jesus our Good Shepherd who wants the best for His sheep says, “My sheep hear my voice and I know them and they follow me ...and I give then eternal life.” (John 10:14, 27)
Who are you following? A self-centered shepherd or a wise leader? We must daily hear the voice of the Good Shepherd and follow Him. He knows where He is going and will lead us safely in life and into eternity.

Whom will you follow today?

Monday, March 9, 2015


 Dear friends,
        In Mere Christianity, C. S. Lewis devotes his chapter “Counting the Cost” to explaining the troubles a Christian experiences. Among his many thoughts, he wrote, “We must not be surprised if we are in for a rough time.” He goes on to explain that when a person is following Christ, he feels that things should now go fairly smoothly in life. Thus, when troubles come along, he becomes disappointed and wonders why God is letting all this happen now.
        But, Lewis tells us, God is helping us become better people. He is moving us to a higher level, putting us in situations where we will have to be braver, more patient and more loving than we ever thought possible. It may seem unnecessary to us, but that’s because we don’t realize the tremendous thing God wants to make of our life.
        He uses an example: Imagine we are a living house that needs some fixing. We can understand we need some changes, so we can accept that God needs to come and rebuild things here and there. At first, we can understand why He is fixing our leaky plumbing, or repairing our roof, or replacing our drafty windows.
        But then God goes too far. He starts knocking walls out and it hurts! God's major repairs make so sense. Why is God doing it this way? He doesn’t need to knock us around like this!
        We don’t realize this is happening because God is building a different house from the one we've had and thought we’d like. He is adding another room, building a tower or making a courtyard. We were satisfied being a nice little cottage, but God is building us into a palace, and He intends to come and live in it Himself. But this is painful!
        Now, we surely can prevent God from doing this. People do it every day by just walking away from Him, denying Him, rationalizing that He doesn't exist. But If we choose to let Him rebuild us, then He will take the weakest and draftiest of us and build us into a fine, strong and house that will bless Him and others around us. The process may be long and painful at times, but this is what God wants for us – the best and nothing less. 
        This is why He told us through the Apostle Peter, “[You are] living stones, being built up as a spiritual house.” (2 Peter 2:5)

Have your walls been shaking lately?

Monday, March 2, 2015


        A recent TIME magazine article told of how a CEO of a major coffee company wanted to change the world, beginning with America. The article focused on racial problems  and how he felt America was at a tipping point, although I’m not quite sure what he meant would happen it if tipped too far. About 40% of his company's employees are minorities, and many of them have faced problems due to their race.
        If he meant that too many more racial incidents would result is riots, that has  already happened fifty years ago. “The country is not going in the right direction,” he said. “There is no company you can point to that is as dependent on the human condition as we are.” The article told of several commendable programs his company has instituted to help people get along better.
        But it will take more than a coffee CEO to fix what’s wrong with our world. America and all other countries, do need to foster greater respect among races and groups, beginning with greater respect for Christians. I had thought being a Christian in the 1900s was the most dangerous century in history, but the 2000s are on their way to being worse. Christian men, women and children worldwide are being butchered and tortured at an ever-increasing rate by vicious people, intent on imposing their beliefs on the rest of the world. For some reason, the news outlets don't think it important.
        The real news is not about American minorities being shot by police. It is that village after village worldwide is being slaughtered by self-righteous killers. The CEO’s words could be expanded, “The world is not going in the right direction.”
        But even as the hatred of Christians has been rising, so also the numbers of Christians worldwide have been rising. It is estimated there are now 2.5 billion Christians in the world, with faith in Jesus is growing faster than any other religion.
        God’s people have never given up easily. Others may kill, insult and rob them of everything, but still they continue to trust in Jesus as Lord. Just as the early Church grew in the blood of its martyrs, so it is growing today. We pray for an end to the hatred and persecution of Christians, as well as a change of heart for those who wish them evil.  Jesus words, “Love one another as I have loved you” (John 15:12) are more important than ever.

Are you praying about this? God will hear and answer!