Monday, April 27, 2015


        In 2012, Chick-fil-A made national headlines when its president Dan Cathy spoke publicly in support of traditional marriage. Reaction by media and some politicians was predictable. Groups tried boycotting the Christian owned company, but it backfired. Chick-fil-A grew in popularity.
        In early 2015, a terrible ice storm hit the south. The press showed miles of cars stranded on frozen interstates, with buses holding school kids up to 24 hours because of the ice. But during that storm, few people heard about the actions of a Chick-fil-A restaurant along Birmingham’s Highway 280. Owner Mark Meadows closed early and sent his employees home. But the employees discovered they weren’t able to get home with all of the stranded motorists and clogged roads. Their store was 1½ miles from the interstate and 280 was a parking lot.
        So Meadows and his employees fired up the kitchen and made chicken sandwiches as fast as they could, taking hundreds them out to stranded motorists. Some of the drivers tried to pay, but Meadows and his employees refused to take a penny. “This company is based on taking care of people and loving people before it's worried about money or profit,” said one worker.
         But that wasn’t all Meadows and his crew did. They pushed cars and helped motorists, even allowing some people into their restaurant overnight to sleep in booths or on benches. The next morning, the workers prepared chicken biscuits and coffee, again refusing any payment even though they’d been up most of the night.
        During that 24 hour period, that Chick-fil-A restaurant opened its kitchen, doors and hearts to hundreds of people in need. As one person who was helped said, “Mark Meadows and his staff lived up to the words of Jesus,  ‘I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in’. (Matthew 25:35)
        None of this was reported in the media.

Amazing how God’s love can be shared when needed, isn’t it?

Sunday, April 19, 2015


         A recent TV show was about a young woman who's family had been killed by a drug-crazed maniac when she was only 6 years old. The murderer was convicted and sentenced to life in prison. Twenty five years later the murderer asked to see her and tell her he was terribly sorry. She was still very bitter and told him she would never forgive him. The only way he could show he was truly sorry, she said, was to kill himself. She left the prison smiling because she’d finally told him what she wanted.
         Watching this show, I was left with an empty feeling, one of disappointment. The writers gave us their view of Christian forgiveness in the wake of terrible crimes, “Don’t do it! Hurt him back!" Although I have no idea how she would have felt, it seemed that evil somehow had won the day. Satan made bitterness her solution. Forgiveness had been withheld and we were supposed to feel the woman was vindicated by her personal verdict of death on the murderer.

          Forgiveness is not excusing what another person has done, it is giving up all claim on the one who has hurt you. It is surrendering your right to hurt the offender back. Forgiveness is choosing a new way to live. It is a conscious decision not to let the offender or the offense control your life.
         Forgiveness does not need the offender’s confession or repentance. After the 1999 Columbine High School massacre, some parents were told since the killers both were dead, it wasn’t necessary to forgive them. That's a mistake, because the offender may not be sorry, or available. Forgiveness is an act of free choice by the offended to the one who has caused offense.
         Forgiveness can also be for the offender, but it’s first done for the offended. Forgiveness is conscious decision so the offended can go on living. It is also a way to show mercy. Withholding forgiveness locks us into a prison we don’t deserve or need.
         When Jesus hung on a cross, it was after a night of arrest and confinement, a morning of betrayal and beating, the humiliation of the crowds and the pain of crucifixion. Yet His first words were, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” Jesus knew forgiveness was needed, and He did it. He did it for sinners, and as a human being He did it for Himself.

Who do you need to forgive?

Monday, April 13, 2015


Do you remember your first car? Do you remember how much it cost, its shape, model or color? I was thinking of this recently, and it led me to recall all the cars I’ve owned in my years of driving. Twenty-one cars may seem like a lot, but nearly all of them were used and often didn’t last long.
Recently there was a television series called “Strange Inheritance” in which each show told of the amazing things people have left to their heirs. One episode told of a wealthy man’s collection of 3,000 cars, most of which were unique and valuable. Estimates were that this collection was worth over one hundred million dollars.
But the collector had requested in his will that the collection not be broken up or sold off piecemeal. So what could his heirs do with them? Even if you are wealthy, what do you do with 3,000 valuable cars? How could you care for them or even store them?
Over the years I have been asked by well-meaning people to do things after their death that I’ve not been able to fulfill. I have also helped a few people deal with a final request that has placed them in difficult situation. In nearly every case I have urged them to do what was best for them, not only for the deceased person.
It is best that people not place their heirs in a quandary after they are gone. The request of a dying person may seem a sacred thing, but if a certain special request presents major problems to the heirs, they should fulfill it only if they are able, or it is legally required, and in the best interests of all. Not all requests need to be fulfilled.
Jesus invited a man to follow, but he said, “Let me first go and bury my father.” Jesus responded, “Follow me and let the dead bury their dead.” (Matthew 8:22) Following Jesus is more important than following the wishes of someone who has died. When possible, honor your loved one’s wish, but only when it does not endanger something more important.

What is the best way to honor those who have gone before us?

Monday, April 6, 2015


Dear Friends,
         On December 17, 1944, 21 year-old Lt. Hiroo Onoda left for the Philippines to join his fellow Japanese soldiers in fighting the Allies. Onoda was given orders to lead his platoon in guerilla fighting, and he was ordered not under any circumstances to surrender or to take his own life. To the last man, he was to command and keep fighting the enemy. Lt. Onoda took those orders more literally than any commander could have given them.
        When the Japanese surrendered on August 15, 1945, Lt. Onoda's work was over, but he refused to believe it and continued guerilla warfare, even when all but a few of his men were killed. In the ensuing years when leaflets were dropped several times saying the war was over, Onoda believed it a hoax and never came out of hiding.
        Finally, in 1974, 51 year-old Lt. Onodo, lone survivor of his platoon, came out of the jungle and surrendered to his former commanding officer. He was pardoned by Philippine Pres. Marcos for killing 30 people and wounding nearly 100 others during his extended warfare. It took Lt. Hiroo Onoda 30 years to believe that World War Two was actually over.
        When Jesus said, "It is finished!" His work as Savior was over. Some of His disciples didn't believe it, but in the coming weeks He showed Himself alive to hundreds, including His own disciples, and all were witnesses to His resurrection. They didn't all believe right away, so it took the Holy Spirit's coming in Pentecost to breathe life into that faltering group of followers. Without His resurrection, we would have no hope for heaven and there would be no Church. "If Christ is not raised, then your faith is futile and you are still in your sins," said Apostle Paul (1 Corinthians 15:17)
        Easter is not just a time to be glad a long winter is over, nor is it the mere christianizing of a pagan spring festival. It is recalling that Jesus rose from the dead and knowing He truly is the Son of God whose death sets us free from the condemnation for our sins. Easter is the Christian's reason to be glad in the midst of life's struggles, and to know God loves and accepts us as His children. God loves us just the way we are, and He helps us change for the better. He helps us open our eyes to the reality of our sin and our need for His mercy, and then helps us live a new life - for Him!

Christ is risen! He is risen indeed - Hallelujah!