Thursday, December 31, 2015

Just 10 Pages a Day - a Modest Proposal for 2016

I like to read. I say that upfront, and I know that automatically makes some of you say, Not me!

Okay, I understand. But hear me out. Reading is still a good thing even if you don’t do it very often. Books put you in touch with other worlds, new ideas, stretch your imagination, and help you live more effectively.*

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

On Being Special

We live in crazy times. Being “offended” or “triggered” by someone’s tee shirt or use of gender pronouns is now called micro-aggression. Saying the wrong thing or holding the wrong opinion could get you kicked out of college. You might even get arrested.

I think some of the blame goes to well-meaning child rearing where we tell every kid that she is special and that she deserves to have whatever her heart desires. Every child gets a trophy just for showing up. Because we’re all special.

Anyhow, I was thinking about all of that this past week as my wife and I listened to an audio presentation of C. S. Lewis’ The Horse and His Boy. It’s a tale of a slave boy who runs away “to Narnia and the North.” And one of his companions is Bree, a talking horse who was born in Narnia, but was captured and enslaved while still a foal. Though Bree has had a career as a war horse, he never revealed to his masters that he was a free-born Narnian who could talk.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Four Lessons on Trimming a Puppy's Toenails

In August we got a new golden retriever puppy. We named her Mercy, which is what we’ve been asking God for ever since.

Anyway, I’ve been a dog owner all my life, but I’m always open to learn new things. Like yesterday when I decided to trim Mercy’s toenails. My experience taught me some important lessons that I want to pass on as a public service.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

A Terrorist Transformed

This is the story of a cultured, well-educated man who became a terrorist…and then became something else.

He was born into a prominent family. Like bin Laden and al-Zawahiri, his roots were upper-middle class, refined, and privileged. As a child he was very bright, and so his parents arranged for him to study under the best teachers. He spoke several languages and had a knack for moving easily from one culture to another.

Along with his education came an increased interest in his ancestral religion. He became more and more devoted. You might even say he was becoming radicalized.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Freed From A Curse

In fairy tales, evil witches put people under a curse. Think Sleeping Beauty or Snow White. But the Bible speaks plainly of a curse that cannot be undone by Prince Charming. 

Here’s the text in the Epistle to the Galatians: even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed (v. 8). And in the very next verse he said it again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed (v. 9, emphasis added)

The Greek word “accursed” is anathema - delivered over to divine wrath. Anyone who distorts the gospel of Christ is under a curse. From whom? From Almighty God.

Sounds a little harsh, doesn’t it?

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Flying Traffic Cones

Our friend Rose (name changed) is a widow without a lot of money, and she drives a beat-up old car. So when she heard her father was sick in another state, she knew she had to take her old car on a thousand-mile road trip.

My wife prayed for Rose, and for her car, the night before the trip. Rose was able to visit her elderly father and make it all the way home safely. And she told an interesting story about the drive.

Several hours into her trip the highway was narrowed by construction. Work crews were on the shoulder, and one of the lanes was marked off by orange traffic cones.

Rose is a careful driver, and she had slowed down for the construction. But the car ahead suddenly swerved as if out of control, and somehow knocked a traffic cone up in the air. Rose saw it caroming toward her like an orange missile.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Random Encounter - The Libyan Who Met Jesus

The day of Jesus’ death brought a seemingly random encounter with a man whose story is anything but random. Luke put it this way: And as they led him away, they seized one Simon of Cyrene, who was coming in from the country, and laid on him the cross, to carry it behind Jesus (Luke 23:26).

Why do Matthew, Mark, and Luke all reveal the name of a man who was only a face in the crowd? The movies always have uncredited characters – the guy holding the elevator, people seated at the next table in the restaurant. Why should this “bit player” in the drama of the cross be named? Simon. And not only named, but we’re told where he’s from: Simon of Cyrene. Why?

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

The Secret of Walking Close to Christ

How shall we who say we follow Christ keep from wandering away from Him? How do we stay close to the One who is our only hope and truth and comfort?

Well, that’s a big question, and godly people have a lot to say to answer it. I found one great answer in the letters of John Newton. You probably know Newton as the slave trader (and onetime slave himself) who was gloriously converted to Christ, and who wrote the most beloved hymn in the English language, Amazing Grace.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Bobby and the Sunday Gunfight

Readers of my blog know I sometimes post fanciful pieces – fiction, humor, poetry, dog stories, even. Anyhow, the following is of that sort. My wife loaned me a book on creative writing. It gives you topics to write on, supposedly to fire up your creativity. This one was titled “It was Sunday morning.”

Bobby stepped off the boardwalk and looked down the dusty street. He repositioned the stiff leather gun belt and holster on his thin hips, and wished he’d had some time to practice.

Black Bart suddenly emerged from the livery at the other end of town. Even at 50 yards away, he seemed huge. And getting bigger. He was striding forward, his right hand hovering over his own holstered weapon. Bobby took a tentative step to meet him. 

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Chapter Twelve: "The God I Worship is a God of Love"

This is my last post about Kevin DeYoung's What Does the Bible Really Teach about Homosexuality? I still encourage you to get the book. (Click the title.)

Kevin DeYoung has a footnoted quote that well summarizes this chapter. Jean Lloyd, a former lesbian, said, “Continue to love me, but remember that you cannot be more merciful than God. It isn’t mercy to affirm same-sex acts as good…Don’t compromise truth; help me to live in harmony with it.” (Footnote #2, p. 127)

Monday, August 31, 2015

Chapter Eleven: “It’s Not Fair!”

“It’s not fair that God would give me these desires and then forbid me to act upon them. God wouldn't want me to be miserable.”

That’s the argument, at least. Author Kevin DeYoung is pastoral in dealing with it – he acknowledges the real anguish of people within his ministry who struggle with same-sex attraction. And he discusses the biological and behavioral roots of sexual orientation.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Chapter Ten: "You're on the Wrong Side of History"

In case you're a new reader, this is an ongoing review of Kevin DeYoung's What Does the Bible Really Teach about Homosexuality? I'm trying to summarize his arguments chapter by chapter. Click the title to order the book.

Supporters of same-sex marriage claim the traditional view of traditional marriage is “on the wrong side of history.” That phrase is, as Kevin DeYoung says, an “attempt to win an argument by not having one” (p. 103).

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Chapter Nine: "The Church is Supposed to Be a Place for Broken People"

Revisionists insist that the church’s traditional condemnation of homosexual behavior is wrong because it doesn’t emphasize the grace of Christ that we all need. We’re all sinners, we all need unconditional love, we’re all broken people.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Chapter Eight: "What About Gluttony and Divorce?"

In chapter 8, Kevin DeYoung lays out another argument of the revisionists: "You’re being selective about what sins you emphasize! How come you don’t condemn other sins – like gluttony or divorce?"

This is the “you’re a hypocrite!” argument. Supporters of same-sex marriage argue that the traditional view ignores other sins – like gluttony and divorce – and unfairly singles out homosexual behavior.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Chapter Seven: "Not That Kind of Homosexuality"

The last chapters of Kevin DeYoung’s What Does the Bible Really Teach about Homosexuality? answer the most common objections to the traditional understanding of marriage and sexuality. (Click the title to order)

Chapter seven is focused on a favorite argument of the “revisionists” who try to reinterpret the Bible’s condemnation of homosexuality. Their contention is: “The Bible isn’t really condemning the loving, committed, same-sex relationships we have in our world today. What Scripture is denouncing is exploitation and violence which expressed itself in the ancient world in homosexual activity. It’s only a bad kind of homosexuality that the Bible is against.”

Friday, August 14, 2015

Chapter Six: “The Bible Hardly Ever Mentions Homosexuality”

The first five chapters of Kevin DeYoung’s What Does the Bible Really Teach about Homosexuality? are devoted to the key biblical texts on the subject. The last seven chapters focus on the most common objections to the traditional understanding of marriage and sexuality. (Click the title to order)

The objection of chapter six is that the Bible has very little to say about homosexuality, so why make a big deal of it? DeYoung responds with six points. He says that “the reason the Bible says comparatively little about homosexuality is because it was a comparatively uncontroversial sin among ancient Jews and Christians." (p. 72) Scripture may devote more time to others sins (like idolatry) because these were more common. God’s word says even less about bestiality or incest, but nobody (so far) would argue that those behaviors are unimportant or ambiguous.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Chapter Five: A New Word from an Old Place

My ongoing review of Kevin DeYoung’s What the Bible Really Teaches about Homosexuality. (Click the title for Amazon purchase.)

This may be the most technical chapter in the book, but DeYoung writes so clearly that it’s easy to follow his logic and to see his conclusions borne out in the Scriptures. He focuses on two New Testament passages which seem clearly to condemn homosexual behavior.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Chapter Four: The Romans Road in the Wrong Direction

My ongoing review of Kevin DeYoung’s What the Bible Really Teaches about Homosexuality. (Click the title for Amazon purchase.)

In chapter four, DeYoung explains Paul’s argument in Romans 1, and shows how same-sex activity is an affront to God’s design. Paul's description of humanity's downward spiral into sin includes three “exchanges”: 1) Ungodly men exchange the glory of God for the foolishness of idolatry; 2) ungodly men exchange the truth about God for a lie; and 3) they exchange natural relations with members of the opposite sex for relations with those of the same sex.

DeYoung answers the arguments of “revisionists” who try to explain away the Scripture’s opposition to same-sex relations. Romans chapter one is about homosexual activity in general, and not just (as revisionists claim) sexual abuse of adults with youth or masters with slaves.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Chapter 3: Taking a Strange Book Seriously

Ongoing review of Kevin DeYoung’s What the Bible Really Teaches about Homosexuality. (Click the title for Amazon purchase.)

Chapter 3: Taking a Strange Book Seriously

You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination (Leviticus 18:22).

If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both to them have committed an abomination; they shall surely be put to death; their blood is upon them (Leviticus 20:13).

In chapter 3, DeYoung looks at the prohibitions about homosexuality in Leviticus. Critics of the traditional view of sexuality and marriage try to undermine the clear condemnation of homosexuality in Leviticus as if it, and indeed the Old Testament itself, were no longer applicable to New Testament Christians. DeYoung offers six reasons why the prohibitions of Leviticus cannot be set aside. For example he shows how Jesus referred to a verse from Leviticus (19:18) more than any other verse, and how both Peter and Paul quote the book to teach on holiness.

Obviously Jesus, Paul, and Peter found the moral obligations of Leviticus still binding upon Christians today.

A Quote: The reason for the prohibitions against homosexual behavior in the Mosaic law, and the reason the prohibitions are stated so absolutely, is because men were designed to have sex with women, not a man with another male. (p. 41)

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Chapter 2: Those Infamous Cities

Just to remind: I'm reviewing Kevin DeYoung’s book What the Bible Really Teaches about Homosexuality which you can purchase by clicking on the title. 

Chapter 2: Those Infamous Cities

Genesis 19 records God’s judgment upon the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. (We get the term sodomy from the type of sin most associated with them.) DeYoung answers the revisionists who suggest that what led to the cities’ destruction by God was not homosexuality, but violence and social injustice.  He documents how Scripture itself (in Ezekiel 16 and Jude) and second century Jewish literature support
the traditional understanding of Genesis 19. God's wrath may have fallen upon Sodom and Gomorrah for many sins, but certainly homosexual practice was at the rotten center of it all.    

A quote: Sodom and Gomorrah were guilty of a great many sins; we don’t have to prove that homosexual practices was the only sin to show that it was one of them. (p. 38)

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Chapter One: One Man, One Woman, One Flesh

This is another post in a series I plan to do about Kevin DeYoung’s excellent book What the Bible Really Teaches about Homosexuality. My plan is that for each of his twelve chapters, I’ll provide a short summary and a quote or two. (I’ll use his chapter titles for my blog post titles, too.)

My hope is that you’ll both be informed, and also that you’ll buy and read the book. Here.

Chapter 1. One Man, One Woman, One Flesh.

DeYoung proposes that God’s original design for marriage is one man, one woman, in a covenant relationship that is sealed by their physical union and which is capable of bearing children. He shows how traditional marriage is a symbol of God’s divine design in ways that other unions cannot be.

Now for a quote:
 “... monogamy makes sense only within this Genesis understanding of marriage. Apart from the complementarity of the two sexes there is no moral logic which demands that marriage should be restricted to a twosome… If marriage is simply the formation of a kinship bond between those who are committed wholly to one another, there is no reason why multiple persons or groups of people cannot commit themselves wholly to one another. There is no internal coherence to the notions of monogamy and exclusivity if marriage is something other than the reunion of two complementary and differentiated sexes…It’s because God made the woman from the man that she is also for the man (1 Cor. 11:8-9, 11-12). And it’s because the two – male and female – are divinely designed complements each for the other that monogamy makes sense and same-sex marriage does not."  (p. 31)

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

What Does the Bible Really Teach About Homosexuality?

I’ve not been blogging much lately, but I’m returning to some new posts because of an extraordinary book I’ve just read: Kevin DeYoung’s What Does the Bible Really Teach about Homosexuality? This is an extremely timely topic because of the unique political climate in our country, and the pressure on evangelical Christians to change our views on subject that seemed settled and clear for thousands of years.

I hope you’ll consider reading this book. At 150 pages, the author speaks with wisdom, grace, and especially with biblical clarity. You can find the book on Amazon, though to be honest with you, even with Amazon Prime, it took two weeks to deliver. I wonder if the book’s title had something to do with the shipping delay. Still, please consider buying it. Here’s the link.

Russel Moore, President of The Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, says “This is the best book on this subject I have read. Every Christian…should read this book.”

Thursday, July 2, 2015

After the Supreme Court Ruling: The Biggest Danger to the Church

Last week’s Supreme Court decision on homosexual marriage has sent shock waves through the American Church. Many people of faith are afraid of the consequences of this decision. They predict the church will lose its tax exempt status, will be subject to crippling lawsuits, and that clergy who decline to perform homosexual weddings will be heavily penalized.

I confess fearing these things, too. But I think the greatest danger for the church is that it will become “the church.” Here's what I mean:

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Abigshag and Hume Lake Volleyball

Sam Talbert is our church’s resident Bible scholar and Pastor Emeritus. After retiring from the pastorate, he has continued to serve in a variety of roles, including on our elder board. Sam shared this devotional at an elder meeting recently, and I thought it was too good not to pass on.   

Throughout the Scriptures are passages that have caused me to scratch my head. One of these is II Kings 1. As you remember king David is old and near death and cannot generate enough body heat.  So, a young maiden named Abishag is hired to minister to him, even to share his bed to keep him warm.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

The Race

I believe I hear a distant roar
A stadium full of witnesses
Not spectators but finishers
I hope they’re cheering for me

Because I can’t even see the tape
Maybe it’s yet a mile or ten
I’ve given up on any prize
I’m not even sure I can finish

I have to loosen the straps
And shrug off this pack of distractions
Slowing me down

It’s time to strip off
This stinking tangling robe
Tripping me up

But I hear the roar
And suddenly I know
It’s for another Runner, the only real Finisher
Who carried my weight and didn’t fall

Now I quit looking for a tape
Just let me see His face
And the joy He won

And so I run
I think He’s watching for me
I pick up the pace

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Poor Fluffy

Anyone who reads this blog knows that I have a soft heart (insert your own joke here) towards pets, especially man’s best friend. I know by experience that the death of a pet brings genuine grief. My recent post about our dog’s demise will back me up on this.

I also know that some of us in the Pet Lover’s Fraternity may go a little overboard in the way we treat these furry creatures. And this is especially evident for people who are not pet people. They think we’re really weird and cannot imagine why we even put up with our animals in our home, let alone grieve for them when they're gone.

I get this perspective.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Divine Passives and Under-inflated Footballs

First let me get through the grammar, which I admit nobody cares about. But if you’ll be patient for a few sentences, I do have something better to say.

Active voice vs. passive voice...remember that? "Tom threw the ball." The verb "threw" is active voice, because "Tom" acted - did the throwing. "The ball was thrown." Now the verb is passive voice, since the subject of the sentence, the ball,  was acted upon (it was thrown, poor thing).

Anyhow, anyone who has ever taken a short course on creative writing knows we’re supposed to use active verbs! Don’t say "the balls were under-inflated." Say, "Tom under-inflated the balls." Don’t say, "the game was won by cheating." Say, "Tom won the game by cheating."

Monday, May 25, 2015

One-on-One with Magic

Years ago I watched a sport-channel special on Magic Johnson. A neighborhood kid, probably about 13, came by Magic’s house and challenged him to play a little one-on-one. Magic agreed.

But it wasn’t exactly a Hallmark moment. Magic didn’t play blindfolded, or with both arms tied behind his back. He didn’t give the kid a break at all. He played him straight up, and it went like you’d imagine. Like an NBA superstar effortlessly smoking a seventh grader from the neighborhood.

Do you ever think what it was like when Jesus’ enemies tried to take Him down on points of the Law? Or when they tried to embarrass Him publicly? It was like Magic playing a toddler. Like Roger Federer serving against a scarecrow.  

Monday, May 18, 2015

What if I Had Never Been Born?

Everybody knows, and most people love, the 1946 Frank Capra film It’s a Wonderful Life. Jimmy Stewart plays George Bailey, a young family man who owns a Building and Loan Company in his small town of Bedford Falls. Bailey is an admirable guy, but circumstances in his life begin to implode. He reaches a point of despair and cries out that he wishes he had never been born.

The movie shows exactly what life would have been like without him. The ripple effects of his life, no longer touching so many others for good, are played out in stark detail. At the end of the film George prays to have his life back because he now knows it is a wonderful life.

So the movie asks and answers the question, what if I had never been born?

The other day in prayer I thought of George Bailey and started meditating on a slight variation of that question: what if I had never been born again?

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Reading to His Glory

I've mentioned previously that Dionne and I are reading John Frame’s massive Systematic Theology. (Did the Raindrop Fall From His Hand?) We discovered early in our marriage that we like reading aloud to one another. When we were newlyweds we read the Narnia Chronicles for the first time and then Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings. This was all back in the dark ages, before we had kids.

Then when our boys were little, we read to them, and now, when we get the chance, we read to grandkids. But we had lost touch with the companionable practice of reading to one another.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Why Christians are the Happiest People

Mel Jenkins, one of our church's elders, is a veteran missionary, church planter, and pastor. Recently he shared a devotional about happiness, and it was such a blessing I wanted to pass it on to you. Thanks, Mel.

I recently watched a Netflix documentary called “Happy.” In the film researchers went around the world to answer the question: What really brings happiness to a person’s life?

In the slums of Kolkata, India, they met a rickshaw driver named Manis Singh. Manis transports people around the city pulling people with his one-seater rickshaw. He lives in a small shack with his wife and two children. Manis doesn’t have an easy life. During the summer the heat burns through his thinly-soled shoes as he pulls people around the city, and when the monsoons arrive, the rain blows into his shack through the blue tarps he uses as walls.

But though Manis has very little of this world’s material wealth, the filmmakers concluded he is basically a happy person, at least as happy as the average American. What brings him happiness is returning home to see his young son at the top of the hill waiting for him at the end of the day. His little boy, his loving wife, and his newborn baby bring him happiness.

At the end of the film the researchers suggested five things that make people happy:
  • Taking time to play
  • New experiences
  • Close connections to friends and family
  • Doing things that are meaningful
  • Appreciating what we have

Watching the documentary reinforced my own conviction about happiness: Committed Christians are the happiest people in the world. Here are five reasons:

Saturday, April 11, 2015

A Life Fully Lived: For Shepard

How do you know when a life is complete and fully lived? I wrote about this question a while back in A Life Cut Short?, the story of a young police officer who was murdered last December.

So what makes a meaningful life? Some people live a long time, seemingly without purpose and without much positive impact. When is a life “fully lived?”

I have been thinking a lot about this because of a heroic little boy in our church who died on April 4 at the age of seven months. His name is Shepard Summerlin. He and his parents fought valiantly and faithfully, he was treated at a world-class hospital by wonderfully competent and caring doctors and nurses, but finally he passed away.

It was my privilege to preside at both his dedication to the Lord and at his funeral. On those occasions I tried to point out how Jesus loves little ones and how they are saved and taken to heaven, not because they are sinless, but because of Jesus’ atoning sacrifice. “Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God "(Luke 18:16)

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Four Ways Jesus' Resurrection Gives Us Hope

What would you say to Christians you know are being persecuted? If you knew their property, families, and lives were in jeopardy, what would you tell them?

Personally I would be inclined to offer words of comfort. “I’m so sorry you’re suffering. I’ll pray that God will deliver you…hang in there.”

But here’s what the Apostle Peter said to believers who were undergoing just such suffering:
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 1 Peter 1:3-7

Though there is plenty of comfort in the letter Peter wrote, he starts with the glorious, living hope we have because of Jesus’ resurrection. There are at least four wonderfully transforming truths we should celebrate on Resurrection Sunday:

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Learning from Donkeys: A Palm Sunday Meditation

The other day Dionne and I were driving over to the park for a walk, and she pointed out a group of horse riders on one of the equestrian trails that interlace the park. What caught her attention was a little kid riding a donkey. Not something you see every day.

Horses and donkeys have a lot in common. They both carry people and people’s burdens. They look like genetic cousins (both genus: equus) and can produce hybrid offspring.

But horses seem beautiful and majestic; donkeys not so much. You picture John Wayne galloping across the prairie on a magnificent stallion, rescuing runaway stagecoaches. You picture Gabby Hayes toodling across the desert on a scruffy donkey. They make movies about horses like Secretariat or The Black Stallion. If they made a movie about a donkey, it would be something like Buttercup the Burro and Her Friend the Magpie. (My suggestion…Hollywood, call me.)

Monday, March 16, 2015

Three Jokes That Made Me Laugh in the Middle of Life’s Heaviness

My blogging has been very light lately. I think my creativity is at a pretty low ebb, and the reason seems to be that I’ve been preoccupied with some unusually serious issues. I’m not complaining. We all deal with hard things from time to time, and as a pastor, it goes with the territory. Jesus is still on the throne, and I know He’s working His will.

But one of the gifts God has given me in the middle of Heavy Things is laughter. More than once in recent weeks, my wife and I have been stressing late at night, and what helped us keep our sanity is silliness. Busting up over dumb jokes, or stupid movie lines we both remembered.

Here are three examples that cracked us up.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Get Busy Living Or Get Busy Dying

I guess it comes down to a simple choice, really. Get busy living or get busy dying.

Those words were spoken by the character of Andy Dufresne in the movie The Shawshank Redemption. Based on a Stephen King novella, Shawshank is a story of friendship and how people triumph over horrific and unfair circumstances.

What Andy meant, I suppose, is that regardless of how grim your circumstances, you need to decide to live - to somehow make the best of it and keep on keeping on.

I admire the sentiment, but according to the Bible you’re supposed to do both. Get busy dying AND get busy living. In that order. Because, like Jesus said, John 12:24, Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

A Family Physician’s Prescription for Peace

Recently Jay Downey, one of the elders in our church, shared a devotional about anxiety, and how God’s peace is available to us in Christ. Jay's perspective is unique in that he is a family practice doctor who notes that the majority of his patients come to see him because of issues related to stress and anxiety. I thought his “prescription” was especially helpful, and with his permission, wanted to share it with you.

Are you feeling worried or anxious about things happening in the world or in your life? Do you get stressed by events or find yourself losing sleep thinking about the “what if's" of the future? If so, you're in good company. As a physician, I can tell you that the majority of doctor visits are, in fact, related to stress and anxiety. And statistics indicate that the incidence of anxiety, worry, and even depression are increasing in the population as a whole.

Why is this? What does the Bible have to say about this?

Well, actually, the Bible has a lot to say about it. In Matthew 6:25-34, Jesus speaks directly to the issues of anxiety.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

A Christian's Message to the Men Who Beheaded His Brothers

Last Sunday the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) released a video showing the simultaneous beheading of 21 Egyptian men who were kidnapped from Libya. As everybody knows (except, apparently, the U.S. President), the men were murdered because they were Christians. The video released by the terrorists was entitled “A Message Signed With Blood to the Nation of the Cross.”

I wrote about another beheading by the “Religion of Peace” here. This is just the latest in an extremely long line of brutal, indefensible acts of barbarism committed by followers of Islam. (Since the beheadings, ISIS burned 45 people to death in Western Iraq.)

This has always been the way. Those who follow the god of this world hate those who follow the true God.

But we don’t hate them back. At least weren’t not supposed to.

Monday, February 9, 2015

When God Doesn't Answer Our Prayers

Of course He does answer our prayers. As everybody knows, “No” is an answer. So is “Not now.” But if it isn't yes, it feels like He hasn't answered us.

If God says no to your request for a raise at work, or that you might do well on a test, you may feel “Meh.” A little disappointment.

But if the Lord says No (or Wait) when you ask Him to heal a loved one or to open the eyes of your spouse to stop divorce proceedings, well, disappointment doesn't describe it. You feel profound discouragement, maybe even anger. Or betrayal.

Monday, January 26, 2015

A Tale of Two Quarterbacks

When I heard about “inflategate,” I figured it would be no big deal. I’m not a New England Patriots fan, but deliberately underinflating footballs seemed like part of some sort of loony conspiracy theory.

But apparently it might be a real thing.

I saw excerpts of Coach Bill Belichick’s press conference, as he basically “deferred to" (i.e. threw under the bus) his prize quarterback, Tom Brady. As I understand it, Belichick would know nothing about breaking any rules. (Unless, of course, you count presiding over the 2007 illegal sideline videotaping of your opponent’s defensive signals, for which you got fined $500,000. But I digress.)

So then Tom “Possibly the Greatest Quarterback of All Time” Brady faced the press, and reminded me a little of Richard Nixon famously protesting, “I am not a crook.” (I freely admit that  Brady is ‘way handsomer.)

I have no idea if Mr. Brady cheated or not. But for people like me who love football, the whole episode makes you want to take a shower. Or stop watching football.

Come on, Sports Millionaires. You've got fame, fortune, and the adulation of millions of people. Maybe you could use your influence and money for something other than trying to increase your influence and money.

While I was fighting a gag reflex over “inflategate,” I remembered seeing the story of another quarterback. Tim Tebow just opened a pediatric hospital in the Philippines. He’s out of football (not good enough, right?) but he seems to be using his fame and fortune in a different way, toward a different end.

I think I know which of these two quarterbacks will be elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio. And I also believe I know which of them is more likely to hear, “‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.”

Sunday, January 18, 2015

The Story of a Baby

Colorado State Children's Home, 1950's
Today is my birthday, and it is also Sanctity of Human Life Sunday. So I thought I’d tell the story of a baby. Me.

My birth-parents were not married (at least to one another), so my mother’s pregnancy was anything but a happy event. They conceived me in Ohio, but she traveled all the way to Denver to deliver me. I spent my first weeks of life at the Colorado State Children’s Home.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

The Blessings of Alphabet Praying

This post is a very simple idea for prayer. But the simple stuff - disciplines of prayer and Bible reading and service and praise - is what gives us focus and balance and enables us to keep walking with Jesus.

“Alphabet praying” just means using the alphabet to prompt prayer for people whose names start with specific letters of the alphabet.

It works great while you’re exercising or stuck in traffic or sitting in a waiting room. Any time you have 15 or 20 minutes of “down time,” consider alphabet praying.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Did the Raindrop Fall From His Hand?

Is it harder to believe that God sends a raindrop than to trust natural processes God set up millions of years ago? Does it seem superstitious and “backward” to imagine that Almighty God crafts the clouds, kindles the lightning, and blows the wind?

I’m been thinking a lot about this because Dionne and I have started reading John M. Frame’s Systematic Theology. When Frame discusses miracles, he prefers not to call them an interruption of divine law or natural process but “extraordinary manifestations of God’s lordship.” (p. 131)

Saturday, January 3, 2015

A Life Cut Short?

When they woke up on Saturday, December 20, neither Officer Rafael Ramos nor Officer Wenjian Liu knew it was their last morning on earth. They were murdered as they sat in their squad car. Their killer had been targeting cops.

Evidently Officer Ramos was a believer in Christ. World Magazine has a great story (click here)  about his funeral and the church where he and his family worshiped for the last 14 years.  Ramos, who just turned 40, was due to graduate from the NYPD’s chaplain training program the day after he was killed. He left behind a wife and two sons.

The senseless murder of a young, godly man reminds us that evil is real and that our world is in its grip. It lives within each of us sinners, and flares like a malarial fever in some, erupting in rage and violence.

We might be tempted to conclude that this dark world is irredeemably out of control, and that the enemy of our soul won yet another ugly victory in cutting short the life of a man like Rafael Ramos.