I can’t remember…

Daily Post: Memorize


There were times in the past when I almost lost myself; awakening a fearsome reality; not knowing where I was, or how I got there.  I may be 63 years old, but I’m not having a “senior” moment here. These were real events, with real long-term issues to face, and memorized answers just wouldn’t cut it any more.

Do you ever feel there are days when 2 + 2 +2 does not equal 6? Sometimes it seems to be 222, and other days maybe only 5.5, and I think I know the answer… but, I just can’t remember.

A few years ago I wanted to be a better communicator so I took a memorization course, or was it 25 years ago? I can’t remember. It was one of those “visualization” methods, where everything you wanted to remember was tucked away in your mind with visual cues, supposedly resulting in instant recall of valuable information.  The technique became so cumbersome for me that I couldn’t remember why I wanted to memorize stuff better in the first place.

I almost forgot who I was.  I was a person.  I had real feelings just like other regular people.  I had hidden places inside me that were almost dead, and then they weren’t anymore. Even though I had helped people with these same kinds of issues, it seemed because of my position, I wasn’t supposed to be plagued with the concept of just being human.  I struggled to remember just what it was like to be accepted for being me.

We, the human creatures inhabiting this planet, have the great privilege of having minds which can think and choose and remember.  All too often we don’t.

Thinking before speaking requires a great deal of effort.  The proliferation of tweets or posts which destroy people and perpetuate hate, is evidence that too few people know how to think through things anymore.

Choosing to slow down and filter thoughts through some sort internal vetting system was simple when I was growing up. My mother said “count to ten before you say something.” I think most people today don’t count at all, much less to ten.

Remembering to think, or choosing to slow down, seems a lost art in our world.  Even among Christ-followers, I’ve watched over the last month just how human we all are.  Forgiveness and grace are concepts we love to talk about, but aren’t too keen on doling out.

When my son was just three years old or so… (I can’t remember)…. he walked into the room one day and said to his mother, “Do you want to hear my Bible verse.”  Of course, she’s thinking, “God is Love” or some other such three-year-old verse, right?  She said, “sure, tell me your verse.”  So he did, in his three-year-old verse voice he said:

Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you. [Ephesians 4:32]

Needless to say, she was shocked.  When I returned home from a hard day’s work, at supper she said to my son, “Why don’t you tell daddy your verse.” And he did it again. He didn’t miss a beat, he didn’t blink an eye, just like before he quoted it perfectly.

The point of this story is simple.  If a three-year-old can memorize a verse this way, clearly our minds are capable of much more than we think, or do.  Did my son understand all these words?  Forget about it.

Perhaps the world would be a kinder, gentler place today if we could just all live by this one verse, don’t you think?  But then, that would require that every human out there, understand the basic tenets of Scripture.  And when you pick up the paper to read the headlines, or turn on the TV to listen to the “news,” or open the FaceBook app on your mobile device, it’s clear the world is very far removed from this verse.

If we really wanted to serve God, please God, and bring God glory and honor with our lives, wouldn’t we read and apply, (much less memorize), the Words He gave us to guide our paths?

Psalm 119:11
Your word I have treasured in my heart, that I may not sin against You. [NASB]

The King James version says it this way:
Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee. [KJV]

Whether “hid” or “treasured” is the Word of God the foundation for your life?

Yes, it should be.

Offering forgiveness to others, or showing grace and tender-heartedness to others?  It’s not possible without first experiencing these yourself, from God, through Jesus.

But when we do step over this line of faith into Christ, His word is a treasure to guide us along our way.

Memorizing for memorizing’s sake is one thing, remembering who you are in Christ, is quite another.

Don’t forget.


Wild About Golf

Daily Post: Enamored


The Senior Men’s Golf Association (SMGA) at Lake Park Golf Course played a Texas Shamble yesterday.  This format is a modification of the “scramble” format, in that each team must use each of the 4 team-member’s drives at least 3 times in the 18 holes, but includes par 3’s for the count.  This is a serious challenge for the high-handicapper, but also evens the field a little more than the average scramble tournament.  Our team shot -7 for the tournament, but more than that, we had a great deal of fun.  I think that one of our guys got upset a time or two, when our “A” (9 handicap) player ran roughshod over which ball our team would play.  But hey, it’s a game right, so he chilled and we went on.

Some people say “I love golf.”  These people are crazy.  What they really mean is, “I’m enamored with the idea that I can play the game of golf well.”  “Well” is the operative term here.  Obviously “well” is determined subjectively by the player, not objectively by the player’s partners.  Most of the guys in the SMGA are out there every Tuesday to share some camaraderie with their buddies, and have been doing so for years now.  They play some golf, share some laughs, give each other a hard time, but few play the game “well,” if the objective observer would be say a tour player on television.  They are just out there for the “love of the game.”  But golf can be a brutal game.

There’s a phrase that golfers use to describe a shot they make, with which they are extremely satisfied.  “That’s the one that keeps me coming back.”  If the drive goes down the middle and far enough, you might hear your partner say, “You busted the cover off that one.”  If you put your 9-iron, 125 yard approach shot 3-feet from the pin, you might hear your partner say, “Well stuck! That’s tight!” When you make a 30-foot, left-to-right breaking putt for “birdie,” you might hear “You’re on fire!”  To which you would respond, “That’s the one that keeps me coming back.”

It is at this point that we are smitten with the idea that we can repeat this performance every time we strike the ball.  At times, the streak of well-struck shots continues for several holes.  Other times, a birdie putt may be followed by a drive from the next tee box, directly into the woods, the water, or the sand.  In which case, we are a little less enamored with golf, but refuse to quit trying!

A good friend of mine likes to see all of life though the lens of golf.  He does this because what brought him to Christ in the first place, was the concept of “mulligans.”  He and I played a lot of golf before he took the step of faith into Christ.  But he did, because Romans 5:20-21 spoke to him from the fairways and greens.

Romans 5:20-21
The Law came in so that the transgression would increase; but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that, as sin reigned in death, even so grace would reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

My friend calls this the “mulligan verse.”  It just finally made sense to him, that his efforts at living this life perfectly was never going to happen.  He was going to “skull” one off into the rough, or he was going to “slice” one into the water, or he was going to miss the inevitable 3-foot put for par, while trying to be perfect every time.  The Law of God is perfection, and only one person ever kept it perfectly… Jesus.

Through my friend’s eyes, it seems crystal clear that none of our lives are perfect.  We can’t ever be.  Yet God offers unlimited mulligans to those who are in Christ Jesus.  The very phrase “grace abounded all the more” was written for duffers in life, like you and me.  I’m enamored with the game of golf because it is such a vivid image of my walk with God.  I try really hard to do it right every time.  I get close to doing it as well as I can at times, and usually say, “That’s the one that keeps me coming back.”

When I don’t do it so well…
When I shank it into the hazard…
The most freeing thought comes back to me again, “grace abounded all the more.

1 John 1:9
If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

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Magnets – not – Marbles

Daily Post: Magnetic


Did you have a “WoolyWilly” when you were young?  The principle behind this simple toy is the magic of magnetic power, released on the iron shavings contained in the plastic.  You take the pen, touch the plastic and some of the shavings are attracted to and held by the magnet, to be released on the face in another place.  Even when the magnet is removed, the shavings stay clumped together, and if the power of the magnet returns, they move again, wherever the magnet takes them.

Marbles are perhaps the polar opposite of magnets.  When I was a kid, I had a bag of marbles too.  Big ones, little ones, all rather unique in color and size, none exactly the same.  But the only thing that kept the marbles together was the bag I kept them in.  If the bag became torn, or accidentally opened, those marbles went everywhere.  There was nothing connecting them or holding them together except the bag I carried them in.

There is a great life lesson here.  Christ-followers are to be magnets not marbles.

Philippians 1:27
Only conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or remain absent, I will hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel.

One spirit, one mind … unity.  Does this describe your church?  Is this the image of your bible study group?  Is this the relationship you have with your Christ-follower friends?

In chapter two of Philippians, Paul gives the motives (2:1-2), the measurement (2:3-4) and the model (5-11) for becoming magnets and leaving behind the life of a marble.  He says to do it “intent on one purpose.” (verse2)  What purpose?  You have to jump all the way to the end of verse 11 to find this purpose, but it is crystal clear when you get there.  “…to the glory of God the Father.

Every moment of every day, every little step we take, or breath we take, or word we speak should reflect the “attitude” of Jesus, and bring glory to God.  In this way we become “like” magnets when the Spirit of God inside us guides us into ministry, into caring/loving relationships within and outside our Christ-follower groups.  In our groups we have encouragement, love, fellowship, affection and compassion toward each other.  This empowers us then to go out into the world that hurts and searches for truth, bringing with us these experiences to share and pass on to them.  Like iron shavings drawn to the power of the magnet, we can and do make a difference to some, when they are drawn to Christ through us.

If we are going to call ourselves Christ-followers, then we should be “like” Christ.

Philippians 2:1-2
Therefore if there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose.

Marbles are hard, cold, and disconnected in every way, bouncing here or there and following the path of least resistance.  The polar opposite of what Paul says we are to be; intent on the purpose of bringing glory to God.

Today, be magnets not marbles.

If you liked this blog post feel free to share it with your friends. I’d love to hear your thoughts.

No Applause Please

Daily Post: Homage


Respect: the deep admiration for someone or something because of their abilities, qualities, or achievements.

Honor: esteem, defer to, look up to, respect.

Reverence: regard, acclaim, admiration, honor.

Homage, respect, honor, reverence… all three.

Recently, I attended a small theater, where a man and his wife, both musicians, gave a sterling tribute to Johnny Cash and June Carter.  The man said up front that it was not their intention to do an “imitation,” but rather to pay homage to an entertainer who made a huge impact during his days as a performer.  While the couple dressed in compliance with the famous duo, and did in fact look quite a bit like Johnny Cash and June Carter, it was his voice in particular that I thought captured the night’s performance.  Whether I was watching him play that guitar and sing, or if I closed my eyes and only used the memories from my youth, I heard the voice so easily recognizable as he sang, “I keep my eyes wide open all the time…” (I Walk The Line, 1957).

Thunderous applause rang like waves through the building, filled with folks who grew up on country music, and loved the Johnny Cash songs.  The tribute was a huge success, and I thoroughly enjoyed being there.

This morning I’m going to worship at our church, then teach a bible study class.  I expect no applause, I’m not a performer on a stage.  Too many people already saw me that way when I served as pastor for all those years.  It’s what we do I guess, we put leaders up on a pedestal and we see them differently than just people “like us.”

Today’s lesson is from Philippians chapter 2, where Paul gives the motivation for being in unity as a church, the means to measure how well we’re doing the job, and the perfect model for what that should look like.  In this process, Paul also does a great job of paying homage to the One who is truly deserving of our respect, honor, reverence and worship.

Philippians 2:8-11
Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.  For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE WILL BOW, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Should we minister, serve, and give with the motivation to be exalted, praised, and honored by our peers?  If that is all we have, in the words of Jesus, “they have their reward.”  We do it, because in our guts we know, it’s all we can do.  We do it consistently and persistently, because the Spirit of God enables and equips us to minster, serve, or give.  And we do it humbly, knowing it is a great privilege, not earned or deserved.  Our purpose for existence is to glorify the name of Jesus.  When we take that respect, honor, or reverence for ourselves, we have literally robbed God of the homage He alone is due.

Just bend the knee.  No applause please.

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I Won’t Dignify That…

Daily Post: Dignify


Dignity is the state/quality of being worthy of honor and/or respect.

Why do we continue to dignify the lunacy in this country?  It’s 9:50am CST, August 26, 2017, and 3 of the major news channels in this area (Dallas, Texas) aren’t even covering the Category 4 hurricane event that hit the Texas coast last night.

Are we really that far gone?  Are our hearts so cold and unfeeling that human lives disrupted, and property destroyed by 150 mph winds, doesn’t really matter?  Yet we tear down statues, disrespect the flag, dishonor the office of the president by verbally assassinating the man who sits in the Oval.  Or worse, just ignore it, and get on with the normal Saturday programming.  I don’t get it!  I really don’t…

I’ve written a bible study help on the Revelation of Jesus Christ, the last book of the Bible.  I do not set timelines or timetable events regarding the end of days, rather I take a literal view of the events in that book of the Bible taking place at a future unknown and unknowable date and time.

That said, there is a verse of scripture that jumps off the pages of the Bible for me today.  Jesus was explaining as clearly as He could at the time, to the disciples, His closest followers, the things which would be happening at the “end of the age.”  Listen to these words carefully…

Matthew 24:10-12
At that time many will fall away and will betray one another and hate one another.  Many false prophets will arise and will mislead many.  Because lawlessness is increased, most people’s love will grow cold.

I’m neither a seer nor a sayer of future events and how close they may or may not be to us today.  I’m an observer.  I’m a seeker of truth.  As I observe, and seek truth today, my humble evaluation is that our world is not only growing darker (see yesterday’s post), but in a very real way, love is growing cold.

What does love growing cold look like?  Listen to talk radio and the hate mongering of the conservative right.  I was listening at noon yesterday when I heard a man do a call in interview with a popular nationwide talk-show host.  The caller was irate about the decision of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling.  Joseph Kennedy a Seattle coach at Bremerton High School routinely held prayers or motivational talks before and after the teams football games.  He was suspended by the school for these actions in 2015. The court system and justice(?) have finally had the final say.  Apparently, Coach Kennedy had no right to do such things.

The court ruled:
“When Kennedy kneeled and prayed on the fifty-yard line immediately after games while in view of students and parents, he spoke as a public employee, not as a private citizen, and his speech therefore was constitutionally unprotected.”

So the caller said to the radio host  (my paraphrase, I don’t have the transcript of the call):
I know how we can resolve this.  When a judge makes a ruling like this, just publicize the judge’s name, the ruling absurdity, his phone number, his house address, his car license number, and I’ll guarantee there’s someone out there who will take care of this problem permanently.”

Do you see what I’m saying here?  It’s not just the lunacy of those who want to re-write history and take down statues which don’t mean what the revisionists are trying to make them mean, within their self-deluded ideologies.  And it’s not just the liberal media that is going nuts here.  Ultra conservatism is the birthplace of violence and the death of love itself, just as much as the Alt-Left.

Where will the madness end?  When will true Christ-followers rise up and say, “enough is enough.”  We can rant and rave all we want, but something’s gotta give.

Yesterday, I wrote: “What’s next?  Removing the statues of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson?  What has gotten into these people?  And after these political icons are destroyed, then what?  Can the religious freedom of having a cross on the top of a church be next?  There are churches in America today which have already conceded to make their places of worship more public “friendly” or “comfortable” by removing the cross both inside and out.”

Some might think I’m making this stuff up.  If so, check out this headline, and click the link to follow the story:

Calif. Catholic school removes Jesus and Mary statues: ‘Alienating’

Jesus told the disciples…

And Jesus answered and said to them, “See to it that no one misleads you. For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will mislead many.  You will be hearing of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not frightened, for those things must take place, but that is not yet the end.  For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and in various places there will be famines and earthquakes.  But all these things are merely the beginning of birth pangs.”
[Matthew 24:4-9]

Remember, I’m just an observer.  I don’t pretend to know God’s designs or plans beyond what He has told us from the lips of Jesus, or from the writings of John the Apostle.

Can God still intervene in our world, or in the United States of America, and resolve this mess we’ve made?  Sure.

Will He?  I just don’t know.  But while there is still time, surely we can learn to be more loving and look for solutions to our differences without resolving to tearing each other apart at the seams.

If you liked this blog post feel free to share it with your friends. I’d love to hear your thoughts.

What Has Gotten Into You?

Daily Post: Inhabit


Fake news, contemptuous politics, leftist liberal media, activists mentality of the third estate, historically illiterate revisionists, sabers rattling across the ocean, and the ocean itself rising up, about to attack our coast… these are perilous times.

One of the course studies that made up my bachelor’s degree in college was on the Civil War in America (1861-1865).  I was reminded of this today, from a Facebook post regarding Robert E. Lee. This photo captures Lee’s statue being removed in New Orleans May 20, 2017.

Here are a few salient facts conveniently overlooked in the tirade of activism today in America:


  • Robert E. Lee was married to George Washington’s granddaughter, and Washington was a huge influence on the man.
  • He was a decorated war hero from the Mexican-American war.
  • He believed slavery was evil and his wife taught slaves to read and write
  • After the civil war Lee became popular in the norther states and the Barracks at West Point were named in his honor in 1962.
  • Lee was disturbed about the prospect of the South leaving the Union, yet ultimately he believed States rights trumped Federal government and chose to lead the Southern army
  • This same federal government demanded Lee pay taxes on his estate in Arlington, near Washington D.C., demanding that Lee himself show up in person to pay the taxes.
  • When he could not do this, the government began burying dead Union soldiers on his land, and is still doing so today.  It is called Arlington National Cemetery.

Does it make me a racists because I question the motives of those who are acting in this reprehensible way?  One opponent of my suggesting they are attempting to erase history has said, “We’re always going to know who Robert E Lee is.  The question is where these monuments are.  The public sphere should be comfortable for everybody.”

What’s next?  Removing the statues of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson?  What has gotten into these people?  And after these political icons are destroyed, then what?  Can the religious freedom of having a cross on the top of a church be next?  There are churches in America today which have already conceded to make their places of worship more public “friendly” or “comfortable” by removing the cross both inside and out.

When darkness inhabits the mind of those who lead, can anything other than darkness be the ultimate result of their influence?

When hatred, anger, and contempt fueled by self-deluded minds, are the only words that resonate in the political arena, or the coffee shop down the street, what else could possibly be on our horizon but darkness and death?

What has gotten into us?  Where do we turn?  What is the answer?

2 Chronicles 7:14
… and My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land.

There is no other answer for a true Christ-follower.


Photo By Infrogmation of New Orleans – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=59237773

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Out of Sync

Daily Post: Synchronize


Being out-of-sync is the bane of good golf, and has spiritual applications for life as well.  Let me show you what I mean.

Out-of-sync in the golf swing usually means your arms and body are swinging independent of one another, or “disconnected.”  This swing fault is the culprit of many foul words, thrown clubs, and lost strokes on the course.  The disconnected out-of-sync swing can be resolved if you’ll do three simple things.

First, learn to hinge your right hand (for right handed golfers) early.  To fix a late, or no-hinge in your right hand, address the ball with the club, then take you right hand of the grip, and put your right hand up under your left armpit and hold it there.  Without your right hand on the grip, it should be easy to hinge the club up.

Second, with your right hand under your left armpit pull back with your right arm and feel your body move to the right and behind the ball.  You’ll have the sensation that your weight moves more onto your right leg, stabilizing your swing.

Third, as you begin the downswing, hold the tension in your left side as you drop the club downwards toward the ball to unwind your hips.  This move allows you to remain tight and connected, the arms and body working together to strike the ball.  This sensation is a synchronized swing which results in crisply hit, powerful golf shots.

Ok, that’s the golf application.  Now what does the Bible have to say about an out-of-sync life, and how to fix it?

Sometimes we are so busy doing “spiritual” things, that we don’t have a clue about how out of sync with God we really are.  Discovering the cause of this disconnectedness with God can often be revealed by examining our spiritual search activities.  Prayer is like the right (dominant) hand in golf.  How we pray can be a real eye opener for us.

Sometimes we mistake defiance for devotion.  We argue with God about something instead of surrendering to God’s will.  Sometimes we just refuse to look and see the results that demonstrate how clearly we are wrong.

In my spiritual search for connection with God today, I discovered these questions posed by Oswald Chambers:

“Have I been asking God to give me money for something I want, while refusing to pay someone what I owe him? Have I been asking God for liberty while I am withholding it from someone who belongs to me? Have I refused to forgive someone, and have I been unkind to that person? Have I been living as God’s child among my relatives and friends?”

How do we fix things, when we are spiritually out-of-sync?

First, don’t just take your right hand off; take both hands off your life and surrender to the Lordship of Jesus.

Second, move back and away from your own earthly agendas and spiritual measuring. With your hands removed from manipulating your life, and your willingness to move back or forward at God’s will, you are poised to be closer to God than ever before.

Third, embrace the tension, trial, or circumstance of the place where you are this minute, and trust the Spirit of God to lead you.  This place is THE place where you may discover just how in-sync you are with the Spirit of God, who always has your BEST in mind.

Acts 17:28
For in Him we live and move and exist.

1 Corinthians 2:9
Just as it is written:
“Things which eye has not seen and ear has not heard, and which have not entered the heart of man, all that God has prepared for those who love Him.”

No Guts, No Glory

Daily Post: Visceral


Tin Cup is a comedy about a down-on-his-luck golf pro who finds himself managing a run down driving range in South Texas. Roy McAvoy (Kevin Costner) becomes enamored with his newest golf student, Dr. Molly Griswold (Rene Russo), and tries to win her affection by qualifying for the U.S. Open.  This film is a must see for every golfer, as it defines the ultimate go for broke, risk/reward type attitude that makes the game of golf so exciting.  The memorable scene of the final hole of the U.S. Open is unforgettable, where Costner’s character makes a 12, after Molly (yes, his girlfriend by that time in the movie) yells out, “Oh, just go for it Roy!”

Kingwood Country Club, located just north and east of Houston, Texas, was used for many of the golf scenes in the movie.  The club is actually 5 courses, (Island, Lake, Marsh, Forest, and Deerwood).  That famous scene from the movie was filmed on the par-4 fourth hole of Deerwood.  According to Darrell Fuston, Director of Golf for Kingwood Country Club, “It’s just an incredibly demanding par 4.”  This iconic hole is 453 yards, playing into the prevailing wind on most days, and an automatic lay up if you miss the fairway with your tee shot.  The second shot plays between trees and over water, with a bunker right, hazard left, and hazard behind the green if you’re long.  Most professionals find it a difficult hole, and deserving of its No. 1 handicap rating.

Tin Cup may be summed up by the title of this article, “No Guts, No Glory.”  That shot for Roy McAvoy was as much a mental/emotional challenge as it was a physical/golf test.  He had something to prove, to himself, to Molly, to his old playing partner who ridiculed him at every turn, and to the world at large.  He had to prove he could hit this shot.  And we see this mentality from golfers almost every week on whatever current tournament is being played around the world.  It seems to me the best Roy McAvoy type player on the tour today, is one who was actually in the movie, betting against Roy hitting the shot: Phil Mickelson.  You can also find this “attitude” in the Bible.

This was Paul’s prayer for the Church at Philippi [Philippians 1:9-11]:

And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in real knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve the things that are excellent, in order to be sincere and blameless until the day of Christ; having been filled with the fruit of righteousness which comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.

Paul was encouraging the church to abandon their ties to the old world, and live with a “no guts, no glory” mindset for the LORD whom they serve.  He prayed they would have more and more love, more spiritual knowledge and discernment. He wanted them to pursue excellence in the lives, and doing so be filled with the Spirit’s blessings which would reflect God’s glory.  This was an all-in commitment.

Roy McAvoy was doing it for the human glory of having made the shot nobody else would even try.

We choose daily to live for the LORD in such a way that God will receive ultimate glory in our realms of influence.  So much so, that we will risk it all, just to bring Him this glory.

Its a visceral thing.  You feel it in your guts every time you take another step toward being all-in for Jesus.

If you liked this blog post feel free to share it with your friends. I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Addams Family Golf

Daily Post: Lurch


Who can forget the Frankenstein-like character originally created by American cartoonist Charles Addams?  First published in The New Yorker in 1938, John Astin and Carolyn Jones were the stars of the Addams Family, a live-action television series from 1964. The role of Gomez Addams’s man-servant, Lurch, was played by Ted Cassidy who coined the greeting, “You rang?”  Perhaps more like a zombie than Frankenstein, at 6 feet 9 inches the towering butler wanders about the house, often with a feather-duster, mumbling and moaning unintelligible utterances.  What has any of this to do with golf?

I once heard a golf instructor say to a student, “if you’re going to keep lurching at the ball, I can’t help you.”  I remember thinking that’s a funny word to use, since “Lurch” conjured in my mind an image of the Addam’s Family butler character.  What’s interesting to me looking back, is how perfect a word it was at the time.  The instructor was trying to communicate to his student how important it is to stay centered and stable throughout the golf swing.  Some synonyms for “lurch” are: stagger, stumble, wobble, sway, reel, roll, weave, pitch, totter, rock, toss, jerk, shake, or teeter.  Should you do any of these things when making a golf swing?  Obviously not.

After creating a firm foundation, the balanced and smooth golf swing will produce amazing results.  Lurch at the ball usually means something in the foundation is off either beginning, during, or at the end of the swing.  More often than not, it simply means you swing down and through too hard, messing up the timing and tempo of the shot.  Any one, or a combination of several of the synonyms above, enacted during the golf swing usually produces disastrous results.

Spiritually, I often feel like one or both of these examples of “lurch.”  Either I’m just like Lurch, stomping around moaning and mumbling unintelligible utterances, or I’m wobbling, jerking, and about to teeter off my foundation.  Usually these feelings come upon me when I’m doing all this “Christian Living” thing in my own power, with my own expectations of what my life has or ever will accomplish.

Paul the Apostle wrote about what the foundation of our lives should be in 1 Corinthians 3.  He wrote to the church in Corinth about how jealousy and strife among those in the church make them appear to have never heard the truth of the gospel at all.  The bickering and infighting among supposedly Christian men and women weighed heavy on Paul’s heart, so he wrote words of correction and instruction, which still apply to us today.

1 Corinthians 3:10-15
According to the grace of God which was given to me, like a wise master builder I laid a foundation, and another is building on it. But each man must be careful how he builds on it.  For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.  Now if any man builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each man’s work will become evident; for the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work.  If any man’s work which he has built on it remains, he will receive a reward.  If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.

On Tuesdays when I participate in the Senior Men’s Golf Association weekly tournament, I see all kinds of golf swings.  I’ve seen some swings that make me wonder how the guy ever makes contact with the ball.  Most of the swings are built from a hodgepodge of suggestions the men have heard over the years, and they have grooved those instructions into something that works for them.  It doesn’t work well most of the time, but for them that’s ok.

Living for Christ in today’s world, I wonder if we don’t often look like these struggling golfers because we’ve taken a hodgepodge approach to all the instruction of our past, relying heavily on the teachings of men, rather than the clear instruction of scripture.  We tend to find the things out of the Bible that make us feel good, or stroke our particular spiritual beliefs, while ignoring other instructions that might actually help us live in better relationship with God and with others.  I have heard so many different interpretations of the 1 Corinthians passage above.  But look at it in total, and see the essence of what it’s saying.

  • Jesus is the foundation for our lives.
  • At the end of our days, whatever doesn’t look like Jesus will be consumed by fire.
  • If at the end of our lives, nothing looks like Jesus but we did trust Him as Savior, then we will be saved literally through the fire, but we take nothing else with us to heaven, except Jesus.

How sad, after lurching about through this life, that we should be saved by the fire, only to discover we pretty much missed the boat on how to be a true Christ-follower here!

What’s a struggling Christ-follower to do?

1 Timothy 6:17-19
Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy.  Instruct them to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is life indeed.  

So which image fits you today?

A Frankenstein-look-alike, lurching about with unintelligible utterances?
A hodgepodge golfer who sways, teeters or lurches at the ball, never making solid contact?


A true Christ-follower who is building their thoughts, motives, and expressions of life on the foundation of Jesus Christ?

You get to choose, which you want to be.

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Binge Watching Dangers

Daily Post: Trance


“Huh?  Did you say something?”  This may be the most uttered phrase among those who sit in a self-induced, hypnotic, stupor-like trance while they binge watch their favorite recorded shows.  I’ve done it, so I’m an expert.  For me it’s golf, but there you go.  Of course, the show that is being watched is only half the equation.  Whether it’s Game of Thrones, Orange is the New Black, House of Cards, or PGA Tour Golf you’re watching, because you missed them the first time around, the state of your mind is the real issue here.  An article I read dated January 13, 2016 stated that Netflix now plays to practically every country on Earth except China. Quote: “It’s the first truly global content network, which has serious implications for the shows and movies it makes, and for how you watch them – especially if, as an American, you’re used to thinking of yourself as the center of the tech world.

According to Netflix product chief Neil Hunt, who gets hourly updates of new customer data, these updates include: who’s signing up, where they live, what they’re watching, and how much time they spend deciding what to watch.  This is the data stream that fuel’s Netflix’s operations.  As a 63 year old, some of you may be shocked that I even know about these shows.  Others of you are shocked because I’m a retired pastor, and I know about these shows.  My golfing buddies wouldn’t be shocked because they have no clue what I’m talking about, having never heard of these shows.  But there’s the thing…

Whether it’s Netflix originals, or classic movies on AMC; whether it’s golf, baseball, or football; or whether it’s SpongeBob, The Wiggles, Power Rangers or PAW Patrol; spending un-checked time in front of what my uncle Wiley affectionately called “the boob tube” will rot your brain, not increase its function.  I grew up on Andy Griffith and other mild-mannered TV shows which are a far cry from what is seen on the tube today.  In fact we shouldn’t call it a “tube” any more, since there aren’t any tubes involved.  We are watching images fed into LED screens of various sizes, shapes, and models, all designed for one purpose.  The screen is there to capture our minds, to induce the trance-like state that seems impossible to shake when we are immersed in our favorite shows.

Usually about now, this is where I insert the spiritual application of my previous observations about our world.  And yes, the Bible actually does have a lot to say about this issue, because it is an issue of the mind.  However, I will be brief, rather than bore you into a thousand yard stare by overstating what should be obvious by now.

Christian programming (conservative, evangelical, biblical truth) is a very small portion of what comes across the television screen today.  On typical Golf Tournament broadcasts (my favorite), the commercials (designed to capture your mind), range typically from drugs designed to increase your sex-life, to cars, watches, or golf products designed to make you a happier, more successful-feeling human.  So Paul might have been prophetic in ways we can’t even imagine when he wrote Romans chapter 8.

Romans 8:6-8
For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so, and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

Don’t yield to the trance-like state that turns your mind away from the Spirit which is life and peace.

Don’t suppose for a minute that I’m suggesting I don’t watch the screen… oh, I do.

But I can choose not to let it dominate or hypnotize me into yielding my MINDSET over to the world.

I can choose to turn it off.

I can choose to walk away.

And you can too.

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Of Soliloquies and Speechifying

Daily Post: Recite


What do actors, lawyers and preachers all have in common?  Each of these vocations are pursued by men and women who seem to have a knack for memorizing large amounts of information.  When they speak, the words seem to come to them on cue as they recite their thoughts back to their audience.  Clearly not all actors, lawyers, or preachers are the same; each one is unique in their skills and presentations.  The men and women who truly excel in these chosen fields are those who make it seem their words are original work of their own minds, the thoughts and ideas presented coming in the moments they are spoken.  The truly charismatic actor, lawyer, preacher will have great followings and more often than not, great egos to go with it.  Just being able to recite something however, is not what makes one charismatic.

The unteachable quality of the great orators over time is the ability to own your material.  The speaker who stands in front of a courtroom, stage, or congregation who drones on endlessly citing chapter and verse of their material, may never connect with a single person in their audience.  If the material seems dry and unrehearsed, if the presentation is cold and without feeling, if the speaker stands like a stone statue attempting to elicit some emotion from their own emotionless voice patterns, well…

The theaters of the ancient Roman world served as meeting places between community leaders and the population at large, and as a site for cultural presentations.  Those who performed there expected and so valued the prized reactions of the crowd that a “silent audience” was a curse wished upon their enemies. [Performers and Partisans at Aphrodisias in the Roman and Late Roman Periods, London, 1993]

Each of you, reading this article now, may not be actors, lawyers, or preachers, but you must know that others may see you this light.  Each of you has a “hot button.”  We all have this “thing” which motivates us to speak out, or act out, our beliefs.  Hopping up on our soap box, we gesture, we elevate our voice so as to be heard over the din of the crowd.  All around the world people have opinions about things that are important to them, where they react in moments of inspiration with what can only be described as soliloquies or speeches.

Long ago Paul stood before the great king Agrippa and spoke passionately about the reality of Jesus as Savior, Paul’s own conversion to Christianity, and to Paul’s right to preach freely in the Roman world, since Paul was a Roman citizen.  This is a great story and worth your time to read it. (Acts 26)  This grand soliloquy from Paul was concluded when Agrippa replied to Paul:

Acts 26:28
“In a short time you will persuade me to become a Christian.”

Actually, Agrippa was saying he had heard enough.  He was cutting Paul off.  King Agrippa, the governor Festus along with his wife Bernice, walked away from Paul, talking about what they had just heard.  They were convinced Paul had done nothing wrong, or deserving of prison or death, but neither were they swayed to believe as Paul did about Jesus of Nazareth.  Agrippa concludes with, “This man might have been set free if he had not appealed to Caesar.” (vs.32)

A few years later Paul was executed by Rome, after planting churches all over what is now Europe and the Middle East.  Paul’s testimony before the world, Agrippa, and ultimately Caesar, was more than just a recitation of facts, more than just a mesmerizing soliloquy, more than just a sermon.  Paul spoke of a life transformed by the living power of Jesus Christ.

If we want to make a difference in our world today, then our testimony has to be more than just words we say.  Our lives must be the words.

We must own it, not just recite.

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Not Just a Card Game

Daily Post: Solitary


Solitary is understood to mean: by oneself, on one’s own.  Hence the genre name of any of a number of card games which are played by yourself.  The game is: you verses a deck of cards.  You sort the cards as they come, by color and/or suit, until you can’t play any more, in which case the deck of cards wins.  Some variants include: Klondike, FreeCell, and Spider.  At least these are the ones I’m familiar with.  While playing your favorite card game on your computer or mobile device certainly passes the time, did you know in 2004 Microsoft’s Chris Sells described “Solitaire” as the most-used Windows application in the world?  If you think about the millions of people around the world who were using Outlook, Word, Excel, and Internet Explorer every single day at work, or at home, that’s an alarming comment.  If you think it is questionable, think about what this truth has accomplished in influencing our culture today.  Can you go anywhere today without seeing someone’s nose stuck in a downward position, as their eyes are glued to their mobile device playing some game, texting, or reading in a solitary existence among the masses of humanity?

For years I served as Pastor to churches where I was the only staff person.  I worked in an office where no one else was around, either at the church, or in my home.  It was by every standard and definition a solitary existence.  My interpersonal communications only took place as I made the intentional effort to get out of my office chair, go out to my car, and drive to where the people were.  Most of the time I might go hours at a time without the phone ringing to break the silence.  I think I have a pretty good idea of what some prisoners experience in solitary confinement.  The feelings of isolation, loneliness, and being cut off from the rest of the world are overwhelming at times.

I would often wonder if this is how the human Jesus of Nazareth felt too.  From Scripture we have the image of Jesus being a loner, often going off for hours at a time to pray.  But that is only one side of the picture.  In fact, Jesus grew up in a Jewish community where the whole village would see Him as “their” kid.  The sense of connectedness that He must have had, not just to this little village, but to the whole construct of “the people of God” eludes us.  Not only that, but our view of Jesus being a loner is incorrect.  He surrounded Himself with 12 men who were constantly at His side.  He was a socially adept individual inevitably inviting Himself over to people’s homes for lunch and dinner.  He was a sensitive human being to those around Him who were hurting, physically, mentally or emotionally, and His ministry was very personal.  Yet, Jesus was isolated, lonely, and cut off in another sense.  He wasn’t at home, in heaven, with the Father and the Spirit.

Paul says it this way…

Philippians 2:5-7
Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men.

He was equal with God.  But He didn’t hold on to that equality selfishly.  He emptied Himself, and became “one of us.” The amazing grandeur of this act alone eludes me still.  I cannot fathom it.  My petty memories of being alone in my office are so inconsequential when compared to what Jesus left behind to come and offer me grace.

Consider how alone Jesus must have felt on the cross.

Consider how alone Jesus must have been in the tomb.

Considering all the loneliness, all the sacrifice, all the devotion of His actions, and considering it all, remember… it was all for you.

Now consider these promises he made to those who believe these truths.

John 1:12
But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name.

Hebrews 13:5
Make sure that your character is free from the love of money, being content with what you have; for He Himself has said, “I WILL NEVER DESERT YOU, NOR WILL I EVER FORSAKE YOU,”

You don’t have to be alone!  You weren’t designed to be alone.

He is ready to walk with you today, are you ready to walk with Him?

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Mysteries Unfurled

Daily Post: Unfurl

unfurl - Agatha Christie

The “Who-done-it” genre of novels were the starting place for me when I began reading for leisure, after months and years of critical textbook and commentary studies.  When I needed to engage another part of my brain, I enjoyed reading Agatha Christie’s work.  One source suggests that she wrote 82 books as herself, 6 under the pen name Mary Westmacott, 2 as Christie Mallowan, as well as her autobiography, for a total of 91 books.  80 of these works were detective novels.  These detective works led me to find other books in the genre by other authors.  Over and over I would sit and read the classic murder mystery and write out my suspicions as to “who-done-it.”  At first, I totally missed the little clues hidden in the mystery.  The more I read, the better I became at seeing between the lines, connecting the dots, and knowing at least part of the answers by the end of the book.

Edgar Allen Poe also wrote detective stories, the most famous among them The Murders in the Rue Morgue, The Mystery of Marie Roget, and The Purloined Letter. His protagonist is the French detective, M. Dupin, who applied precisely the simple laws of deductive logic in solving the mysteries.  Sir A. Conan Doyle credited Poe with the inspiration to create his own famous detective, Sherlock Holmes.

There is an easy way to understand “deductive logic.”  Deduction rhymes with reduction, and this is the clue to the meaning.  Using deductive logic you start with a set of possibilities and reduce it until a smaller subset remains.  For example, in a murder mystery the detective begins with a fistful of suspects – the butler, the maid, the business partner, or the widow.  At the end of the book these suspects have all been ruled out, one-by-one, until the suspects have been reduced to only one person.  “The victim died in the bathtub, but was moved to the bed.  Neither woman could have lifted the body, nor could the butler because of his war wound.  Therefore, the business partner must have committed the crime.

Paul describes the ancient Word of God, and the revelation of the gospel in Jesus Christ as mysteries.  In Colossians 1:13-29 Paul writes about the unparalleled incomparable Christ.  He also describes his own role in the process of unfurling these mysteries.

Colossians 1:25-27
Of this church I was made a minister according to the stewardship from God bestowed on me for your benefit, so that I might fully carry out the preaching of the word of God, that is, the mystery which has been hidden from the past ages and generations, but has now been manifested to His saints, to whom God willed to make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.

Ephesians 3:4-7
By referring to this, when you read you can understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, which in other generations was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed to His holy apostles and prophets in the Spirit; to be specific, that the Gentiles are fellow heirs and fellow members of the body, and fellow partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel, of which I was made a minister, according to the gift of God’s grace which was given to me according to the working of His power.

Out of God’s grace, Jesus saved Paul – the persecutor of the early church – and used him to unfurl the mysteries of the Old Testament now fulfilled in the life of Jesus.  At the end of the Bible, God uses John the Apostle to unfurl even more than the gospels did about Jesus. The arrival of Jesus in the early part of the 1st century, baffled and confused many.  He was such a mysterious man, with mysterious beginnings.  His life was shrouded in the power of God to feed thousands with very little food, heal the sick, raise the dead, cast out the demons, and through it all bring God the glory for these events.

John, late in the 1st century, wrote the Revelation of Jesus Christ, the last book of the Bible.  The scroll containing the will of God is unfurled during those last days, and every mystery will be revealed in full.  As each seal is broken, each trumpet sounded, and each cup of wrath poured out, every man, women and child living at the time will not need deductive logic to understand what is happening, or why.  The will of God unfurled in the Revelation of Jesus Christ will conclusively reveal the identity of Jesus as God, Savior, Redeemer, Deliverer, and Judge.

Even the most intricately woven mystery novels, are nothing more than children’s books, when compared to God’s unveiling Jesus before the world.  Is it hard to understand all the things written in Revelation?  Sure, no question about it.  Are all the details of the last seven years of humanity clear?  Not at all.  However, if you want to receive a true blessing from God today, take God’s words as literal in this statement:

Revelation 1:3
Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of the prophecy, and heed the things which are written in it; for the time is near. 

This verse needs no deductive logic at all.

Read it, hear it, heed it, and be blessed for it.

If you need help understanding the book, get help here.

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Going Grainy

Daily Post: Grainy


Listening to the commentators on TV describe the tedious process of determining the direction of a putt by a professional golfer, can be confusing for those who don’t understand the terminology.  When the announcers speak about the “grain” of a green, it is a reference to the texture of the grass in terms of the direction the grass is leaning.  The “break” then, is the direction your ball will follow based on the green’s topography and the grain of the grass.

In the example above, if you are putting on a level green and hit your putt perfectly straight (ha!), but the grain of the grass is to the right, your ball will move to the right of the hole.  An experienced golfer will play this grainy influence by aiming to the left of the hole, allowing for the grain as an aid to help the ball stay on a path to the hole.

The grass on a given green, and the way it grows, contributes to the grain.  Most golf courses cut their greens from a different direction daily to keep the grain even.  However, if the course cuts their grass in the same direction every day, the grass will begin to grow in a distinct direction, leaning to one side more than the other, causing a grainy green.  Which by the way, some courses do intentionally to make a particular hole more challenging, or to assist the golfer on difficult shots.

Putting can be a lot like life at times.  It is definitely an imperfect and much maligned part of the total golfing experience.  What makes golf so different from other sports is the fact that there are 18 different greens to play in a single round of golf.  Since most golf courses place the pins on the greens at different locations every day, even if you play the same course over and over, it’s impossible to master every putt on every green.  And that’s just on one course.  If you play multiple different courses, the complexity of putting is multiplied exponentially.

What’s a golfer to do?  Here are three things to help you putt better:

  • analyze the grain
  • get a different view
  • trust your swing

Analyze the grain: this just means, do your best to see which way the grain of the grass is growing, and know that this factor will pull the ball in that direction.

Get a different view: just means, before you putt the ball, walk around to the other side of the hole you are putting toward, and see if the break caused by the grain looks the same from both directions.

Trust your swing: just means, after a quick look around (don’t waste everyone’s time here), use your best judgment, pick a line, and trust your subconscious muscle memory to help make your swing.

We could learn so much spiritually if we would approach our walk with God using these same simple instructions.

Analyze the spiritual grain around you…

1 John 4:1
Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.

Get a different view than just what you see and hear in social media or fake news…

Philippians 4:8
Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.

Trust God’s Spirit inside you …

2 Corinthians 5:4-8
For indeed while we are in this tent, we groan, being burdened, because we do not want to be unclothed but to be clothed, so that what is mortal will be swallowed up by life. Now He who prepared us for this very purpose is God, who gave to us the Spirit as a pledge. Therefore, being always of good courage, and knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord–for we walk by faith, not by sight–we are of good courage, I say, and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord.

Going grainy just means, we live knowing there are invisible influences which try to make us stray from God’s intended path for our lives.  We must go against these influences, keeping our eyes on the prize of God’s glory through our lives.  And most importantly, we must trust God’s Spirit to empower us to do it.

Every day… go grainy!

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Peter Piper and Prickly Pears

Daily Post: Prickle


Some people may not know this, but the official state plant of Texas is the Prickly Pear Cactus, designated as such in 1995. Prickly Pear Cactus are found everywhere in the American southwest and were a source of food for the native Americans for thousands of years.  This Cacti is still a staple food for some residents in Mexico and Latin America, where the plant is raised commercially.  The name “cactus” derives from the Greek word “kaktos” which means prickly plant.

I grew up in what I affectionately called the “desert” of West Texas, where the prickly pear cactus grew naturally and abundantly in an environment not suited for other plants.  Wandering about in that wilderness in the early years of my life, I gained a healthy respect for the natural  defenses of the prickly pear, with both huge thorns, and the small prickly stingers that would get you quick if you weren’t careful.  I’ve lived in Texas all my life, and yet haven’t ever had a single taste of prickly pear fruit.  I always thought anything protected that well, wasn’t meant to be eaten.

In Psalm 107:43, the psalmist asks:
“Who is wise? Let him give heed to these things, and consider the lovingkindnesses of the LORD.”

These prickly pear cactus and desert images cause me to reflect about how God leads those who wander through barren and dry places in life.  I think about times when I was very thirsty and hungry relationally, wondering if God was hearing me cry out to Him in pain, or sorrow, or frustration.  I remember the times of physical pain after back surgery, and what seemed like long tortuous months of rehab, when depression sank deep into my soul, becoming a constant companion of the pain.  There were days I was so disoriented from these influences, I’m pretty sure almost nothing I cried out to God made much sense.  Psalm 107 became a source of healing for me, when my doctor got me off the medicines that were causing these side effects, and were altering my reality.

Psalm 107:1-9
Oh give thanks to the LORD, for He is good, for His lovingkindness is everlasting.
Let the redeemed of the LORD say so, whom He has redeemed from the hand of the adversary, and gathered from the lands, from the east and from the west, from the north and from the south.
They wandered in the wilderness in a desert region; they did not find a way to an inhabited city.
They were hungry and thirsty; their soul fainted within them.
Then they cried out to the LORD in their trouble; He delivered them out of their distresses.
He led them also by a straight way, to go to an inhabited city.
Let them give thanks to the LORD for His lovingkindness, and for His wonders to the sons of men!
For He has satisfied the thirsty soul, and the hungry soul He has filled with what is good.

Psalm 107 applies directly to me and how God has used the desert times of my life to teach me about His grace, His lovingkindness, His mercy, and His abiding presence.  He was there to make sure I’m wasn’t destroyed, by outside forces or forces in my head and heart that are foreign to Him.  That we sometimes must go through the desert experience to bring about a holy purification, to learn from God a deep truth, or to broaden our perspective regarding God’s sovereign authority over our lives, is a fact discovered only by living through those painful desert events.  Yes, they are painful, and seemingly endless.  Yet, His abiding presence sustains us through each step.

Psalm 107 promises us that God does indeed respond to our brokenness, to our tears of shame or sorrow, to physical pain or emotional pain, of our own doing or someone else’s, and can still lead us out of this wilderness.  In fact, His desire is to bring us into a well-watered land, a land of life and hope, freedom and healing.  We wish at times He would bring us there faster.  We pray that the pain would be over quicker.  While in the middle of the desert, we have to believe without seeing – what God is doing.

Psalm 107:35-36
He changes a wilderness into a pool of water and a dry land into springs of water; and there He makes the hungry to dwell, so that they may establish an inhabited city.

It’s not me finding my way out.  It’s not me making the most of prickly pear plants in spite of their thorny protective coverings.  It’s me believing that God will deliver me out of my distress.  It comes in His timing.  Fine.  Deliverance comes in unexpected ways.  Fine.  The process takes longer than I want, involves changes I don’t yet see, and requires faith.  Fine.  But it does come.

So read verse 43 again, and this time don’t look at the prickly pear cactus, or the desert environment that is causing you such pain.  This time see the big picture, and the sovereign control, authority, and abiding presence of the LORD.

Psalm 107:43, the psalmist asks:
“Who is wise? Let him give heed to these things, and consider the lovingkindnesses of the LORD.”

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Fast Like Peanut Butter

Daily Post: Jiffy


Regardless of whether you like “store brand” or “name brand” peanut butter, neither one can be eaten quickly.  Peanut Butter doesn’t spread quickly either, it sticks to the bread and makes you work it a little, before it yields to go where you want.  Take a bite and if it sticks to the roof of your mouth, or to a couple of your teeth, good luck getting it un-stuck without a bit of work.  Such is the nature of peanut butter.   Some would think if you add a little honey or jelly to the sandwich, it would loosen things up a bit, and make the peanut butter a little less sticky.  Not really.  It makes me think perhaps the makers of “Jiffy” peanut butter were having some fun at my expense.

Some find it easy to think this way about God, and His Word, like He’s a cosmic jokester and having a little fun at my expense.  Folks who feel this way take a couple of verses from the New Testament and build a whole theology around the concept of “time.”  First they use the words of Jesus in John 14.

John 14:1-3
Your heart must not be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in Me.  In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also.  You know the way to where I am going.

But most of us are like Thomas, who basically responded, “We don’t have any idea what you’re talking about, Jesus.”  Maybe he thinks Jesus is pulling a fast one on them, and he feels a little left out.  “Tell me quick, what are you talking about!”  But John chapter 14 through 16 is one long explanation, or exhortation, of what is about to happen, and the implications and consequences of what Jesus is about to do.  There are no quick explanations.  There is no jiffy.

So we add the words of Peter, written much later, after the Resurrection, and the establishment of the Church.

2 Peter 3:3-4
Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts, and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation.”

Now, there have been mockers and bullies since these words were written.  Yet, it seems in these last few years with all the social media blitz, and the “fake” news phenomenon, that more and more the world is adopting the attitude, “well, Christian, Jesus said he’d be back in JIFFY, where is He?  It’s a joke right? He really left you here on your own! ha!”

When things around you are going haywire, when the world seems one small “launch” button away from nuclear war, when you’re relationships are all strained to the point of no return, and you wonder “Where is the promise of His coming?”… don’t be confused by the wrong  idea that Jesus said, I’ll be back in a jiffy.  He didn’t.  He said He would come back.

The last verses often used to mis-construe the idea of Jesus coming back in a jiffy comes out of the last book in the Bible.  Now just think logically for a moment.  It’s the “last” book, and it deals with “last” things.  This means when you read this information, you should read it through the filter of “when time is up.”  So, look at what Jesus says about when “time is up.”

Revelation 3:11
I am coming quickly; hold fast what you have, so that no one will take your crown.

In Revelation 22, Jesus says “I am coming quickly” three times for emphasis.  So many people take these verse out of context of the book of Revelation, and shout, “See it must be in my lifetime because HE SAID, I’ll be back in a jiffy.”

How is it that we miss the point that God’s timetable is not based in the human concept of time?  None of the promises of Jesus return were ever given in the construct of human time or timetables. In Revelation, God was just explaining how only after HIS own timetable and original plan for humanity had run its course, Jesus would come back quickly.  It’s not a big joke, it’s a serious intent to accomplish all God intends to do.  Peter really helps us understand this better.

2 Peter 3:9
The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.

What God really wants to do in a “jiffy,” is provide grace to all who have not yet said “yes” to His offer of salvation.  He is patient.  He is kind, loving, generous, and forgiving.  He does not wish one single person to go on living today, or throughout eternity, without His love and mercy.  God wants them all to come to Him through repentance, and trust Jesus for salvation.

If folks really understood the love of God, they would run to Jesus, in a jiffy.

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Timing, Delivery, Result

Daily Post: Delivery


What do UPS, FED-EX, Golf Professionals, and Preachers all have in common?  Timing, delivery, and results.

Almost every golf instructor in the world will tell you:

If you want to become a good golfer, you must learn to swing (deliver) the club on an inside-to-outside path.  There are many reasons, but the simplest is the inside-out swing path is nearly slice-proof; enabling you to hit a draw,  it transfers more energy (power) to the ball, which means more distance in the shot.  Combine this swing path with the right timing, and the results will astound you. (follow the arrows in the image)

UPS and their nemesis, Fed-Ex, along with all serious competitors in the shipping industry will tell you, it’s all about timing, delivery, and results.

If they are honest, with themselves and with their congregation/listeners, Pastors and Teachers all over the world will say the most impactful sermon or bible lesson has three elements: timing, delivery, and results.

For the optimum and singularly perfect application of this truth, consider if you will, the command of Jesus to His followers just before His return to heaven, after His resurrection.

Matthew 28:18-20
Then Jesus came near and said to them, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.  Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

This command is given authoritatively because Jesus has already been crucified, resurrected, and glorified on earth.  He didn’t come right out of the box with this statement when He first arrived, and asked John the Baptist to baptize Him.  Instead He took His time, spending three full years living out the proof of His authority before the eyes of the world.  Then He DELIVERED this truth in the most self-less act of love ever demonstrated on earth, by taking the SIN of the world on Himself at the cross.  The ultimate proof of His ability to deliver US from DEATH, was revealed by delivering HIMSELF from death, and leaving the tomb behind.  This command He gave in authority, supported by the delivery of His grace, resulted in 2,000+ years of folks doing exactly what He commanded.  Because they were filled with His power, led by His Spirit, and glorifying God with their lives.  Beautiful, is it not?

Has anything changed that would cause us to believe this command is not valid for our lives today?  Has the whole world suddenly come to trust God, be saved, and start glorifying Him, and I missed it?  No, the words of Jesus are just as important for you and I today, as when they were first spoken to the first Christ-followers.

These words, this command, travels on an inside-out path.

It’s impossible for you to have a sense that you are supposed to go, if you’ve never come to see Jesus as Lord.  It’s an “inside” choice.  Willingly yielding your whole life to the Lordship of Jesus is the first step in being a “disciple” – or Christ-follower.  Once this step is taken, the very first visible delivery of your testimony of faith to the world is supposed to be baptism.  The singular purpose of baptism is to identify yourself as a Christ-follower, and a member of the body of Christ, the church (universal).  It is “out” of these “inside” decisions, that the followers of Jesus are commanded to go spread His love to the rest of the world.


Timing, delivery, result.

It still works today.

Do you see it?  Are you in it?  Need more practice?

So do I.

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The Inescapable Moment of Truth

Daily Post: Glaring


Tuesday was a tipping point for me at the Senior Men’s Golf Association match.  The format for the day was “4-man Shamble.”  It’s a simple spin on the “scramble” format where everyone on the team hits from the best previous shot.  In a “shamble” Everyone tees off from their normal teeing area, everyone plays from the best “drive” location, then keeps their own score throughout the rest of the hole.  On Tuesday my scorecard total was 76 (6 over par of 70) for the day.  It was the day I’ve worked for, for a long time.  Breaking 80, even in a shamble, is not that easy to do.

When a person wants to be a good golfer, that person must be able to strike the ball solidly, in the correct impact position, and consistently on each shot throughout the round.  This means making contact with the ball as close to the “sweet spot” as possible (center of the club face). The club face angle and path of the swing will both determine if the ball flies toward your intended target.  In golf terminology this is called “The Moment of Truth,” and refers to the exact instant of impact.  The inescapable moment of truth for me Tuesday was in one clearly established fact:  I am capable of doing this… so no more excuses.

Golf analogies representing real life applications are often glaring and blinding like the sun.  Some of these truths are unmissable.  The Grace of God as an eternal truth is one of these inescapable truths.  In exactly the right time of human history, God the Son humbled Himself and became a human embryo planted in a virgin’s womb by God the Holy Spirit.  He wasn’t coerced, compelled, obliged, or bullied into this choice.  It was the ultimate expression of love and grace, demonstrated in Jesus giving His life so I might live.  In this image (in golf-speak), I am not the player, or the club; I am the ball.  I am the one impacted by God’s divine swing.  So, here’s the thing.  As the ball, I’m inert and incapable of any movement (high, low, near, or far) without God in control of the club. Additionally, we must understand, God’s swings perfectly every time.

So if the Moment of Truth is about striking the ball solidly, and consistently, and from the correct impact position… when God’s grace saves me, then leads me or guides me into action, it is His power which is evident in me, and it is perfect.  However, the glaring truth is: grace must be received, to become enacted for change in my life.  Remember Paul’s words?

Ephesians 2:8-9
For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. 

Let’s not get bogged down with the analogy.  That’s usually the trouble with preachers, too much application of an analogy, breaks down over time.  My point in this article is to suggest that we are capable of becoming the person God designed us to be.  The person living in correct relationship with Him, will always, not just some of the time, be impacted by the grace of God offered to us in Jesus.

We can’t work to be saved.  We can only be saved by Him, then be the glaring light of Christ to the world around us.  When we do this, when we receive His grace, trust His Lordship, then we too can experience the tipping point realization where we can say “yes” to Jesus consistently.  We are capable of this commitment, we have choice, just like Jesus did.  Once made, once a person steps over the line of faith into Jesus, life will never be the same.

It will be better.



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Non-boring, not so bland, hot stuff

Daily Post: Spicy


Grilling outdoors has been one of my favorite things since I was a kid watching and learning from my dad.  Something about the fire and smoke, the smells and the flavors, as well as the camaraderie that happens around the grill, really get my juices going.  I grew up on mesquite smoked/grilled food, cooked on an old bar-b-q pit made out of an empty 50-gallon steel barrel.  It took time to get the fire and coals just right, and time to cook the food, allowing for more than ample time for “cussing and consorting” (as my uncle Wylie used to say), with all those who gathered for the feast.  And what a feast it was.  With fresh home-made rolls, banana pudding, mashed potatoes and gravy, and all varieties of meats cooked on that old steel barrel.  My mouth is watering just thinking about it.

But that’s grilling.  Cooking is another matter altogether.  Over the last couple of years I’ve been trying my hand in the kitchen, and discovered a great deal of joy in cooking.  One of the things I’m learning is how fine the line is between too much spice, and too little.  I started by following recipes, and being quite precise about all the measurements and ingredients.  When it didn’t quite taste as I had expected (or as the picture of the dish led me to believe), I started experimenting on my own.  Hence the “fine line” discovery.  One of my favorite things right now is fried rice, with an entree of some kind, with a couple of egg rolls to complete the meal.  Entree’s recently include: sesame chicken, spicy shrimp, and a Panda Express Orange chicken reproduction.  None of them were boring, and some needed some tweaking on the spices, but all of them (if I do say so myself) were delicious.

The Word of God is like this grilling/cooking story to me.  I’ve been around it, or in it, for 63 years now.  I was in my mother’s womb, going to church, listening to a preacher preach, before I was born.  Most of my childhood, young adult memories originate from church experiences: worship, Sunday School, Vacation Bible School, Youth trips, or special “Revival” times.  I’ve talked to people who thought Sunday School was boring, bland, and tough, as though studying the Bible was like eating a tough over-cooked slice of steak, that you could chew on for a week.  And I’ve been in study classes like this, but the one I remember most fondly was when the teacher would use the flannel board.  Do you remember those?  My Bible teacher would talk about all the characters of the stories, and then place an image on a flannel board that would take me off on a non-boring, not so bland journey that was spicy to my mind.  It hooked me on the “hot stuff” of the Bible.

Some people are what I call “meat and potato” folk, who aren’t necessarily all that thrilled with spicing things up, whether you’re talking about food or the Bible.  But isn’t that what life is all about?  Don’t we actually say occasionally that “variety” is the “spice” of life?  The Word of God is filled with so much variety, that there is something in it for everyone of us.  It’s clear to me that God understands the whole “fragrance” thing of grilling meat.

Numbers 28:24
After this manner you shall present daily, for seven days, the food of the offering by fire, of a soothing aroma to the LORD; it shall be presented with its drink offering in addition to the continual burnt offering…

Clearly Jesus liked to eat grilled fish, as indicated in John’s description of this fact.  The disciples had been out fishing all night, but when they came back the next morning Jesus was waiting for them.

John 21:9
So when they got out on the land, they saw a charcoal fire already laid and fish placed on it, and bread…  

The “spice” in the Bible is captured for me in the extravagant lengths to which God will go to reach the human heart with His grace.  To some, the Word is filled with do’s and don’ts, with rules and judgments and curses.  But what I see is the spicy side of God’s hand always throwing into the mix, what only God can do to make things come out right.  The peppery side of Peter’s personality is exactly what God uses to make the bold declaration to Jesus, “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God!” (Matthew 16:16)  It’s the strong and pungent side of James’s personality that God uses to help all of us deal with struggles we have in our lives when he writes, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds.” (James 1:2)

My desire to teach or preach is the same as my desire to cook… I want to do the non-boring, not so bland, hot stuff.

I want it to be Spicy!

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The Least Little Shimmer

Daily Post: Shimmer


It doesn’t look like the earth is curved to me, but then my sight is limited to about 3 miles, on my best days.  According to scientist, human visual acuity ranges far beyond that.  If earth were flat, and we were on the top of a mountain, a person could see a candle flame flickering up to 30 miles away.  The distance a human eye can see is based on how many particles of light (or photons) a distant object emits.  The stars in this image, seen clearly on the beach are 2.6 million light-years from Earth.  The Andromeda galaxy’s stars in total emit enough light that several thousand photons hit each square centimeter of Earth every second, that’s more than enough to excite our retinas.

Now just imagine the human eye’s visual acuity as a metaphor for spiritual awareness.  The spiritual darkness on this planet is at an all-time high.  It requires more light to penetrate this malevolent murkiness and the forces which blind human eyes to God’s love, mercy and grace.  John the apostle wrote of Jesus coming into the world using the imagery of light.

John 1:6-9
There came a man sent from God, whose name was John.  He came as a witness, to testify about the Light, so that all might believe through him.  He was not the Light, but he came to testify about the Light.  There was the true Light which, coming into the world, enlightens every man.

Were we to have John’s experience today, we might say, “please don’t look at me, look instead at the light I bear, for it is the light of Truth, given to me by Jesus.  I’m not the LIGHT, I only testify about the LIGHT.”  And if we were to do this today, we would only be fulfilling what Jesus commands of us, just as He did those listening on the hillside thousands of years ago.  Then the LIGHT rang true in the many stories, parables, and lessons which Jesus shared with the crowds who followed Him.

Matthew 5:14-16
You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house.  Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.

At a time when the church, the collective of true Christ-followers around the world need to be united, in many ways today we reflect more dullness than light.  The church has been infiltrated with the same contemptuous attitudes that prevail on the nightly news and newspaper headlines.  The LIGHT of the gospel of Jesus, once bright and shining across the seas, has waned into a shimmer in comparison to the growing darkness.

Now I bring you hope.  Today I offer you encouragement.  Think again about the facts of light and the visual acuity of the human eye.  If the eye can see candle-light from 30 miles away, then the heart can see truth when it is standing right in from of them!  Don’t be discouraged that you may be the only light at your workplace!  Don’t give up hope for those who live in your home, who need to see the light.  Just BE who Jesus tells you to be! “You are the light of the world!”

Even the smallest, the least little shimmer of light that you bear in Jesus name, has the POWER to banish the darkness and bring truth to the heart which seeks God!  It has always been true and it remains true today!

Be like the Paul the apostle, don’t hide your light, but speak it boldly, live it confidently, and watch God be glorified!

Romans 1:16
For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.

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Loosey-Goosey Says It All

Daily Post: Casual

bowing horse

And within the context of human history, it’s been a pretty short ride to get here.  One good analogy would be: travel.  In just over 250 years we’ve gone from horses as the primary means of travel over land, to cars and trucks covering acres and acres of parking tarmac all over the world.  Whether you’re a creationist, believing the world is just over 6,000 years old, or an evolutionist, who believes the world is billions of years old, this leap in primary mode of travel is a minuscule amount of time in either context.

There are other good examples of how change has come into our world, both good and bad.  Each and every new invention, discovery, design, or development has the potential to render its replacement obsolete.  Perhaps the subtlety of some changes have lulled us into a casual acceptance of all change in general.  In many ways time gets away from us, and we tend to forget what we never learned from our predecessors who resisted change.

As a young adult (translate teenager) in those rebellious days of the late 60’s and 70’s, my mother and I went round and round about my hair, my clothes, and my casual (her word) approach to my life.  I just wanted to “let it be” (Beatles) and “get a little help from my friends.”  I found a church that would let me just be me, and accept that I preferred cowboy boots, white shirts and jeans, instead of suits and ties as appropriate worship attire.  I didn’t go down the hippie road, I was just being my own casual self.

During those early days of feeling as though God was calling me to ministry, I was on the edge of discovering just what that would mean long term.  The “call” of God on a person’s life can’t be explained adequately to anyone since it can only truly be perceived or understood by the inner-nature of an individual changed by God’s grace.  It is highly personal, and the specifics cannot be known all up front, but only revealed over time through people, places, events, and God’s Holy Spirit orchestrating it all.  The simple version is found in the word “Lordship.”  Unfortunately, this one word has almost completely lost its meaning to the world at large. More specifically it often has negative connotations in the Western world, due to our casual approach to salvation.

The true meaning of Lordship isn’t about external expressions of religion or spirituality. Lordship is more basic than that.  If I yield my entire life (thoughts, attitudes, purposes, goals, and daily walk) understanding it should be lived for my LORD (Jesus), then I understand the call of Jesus on the life of every person of faith… not just ministers.  Therein lies the issue.

Our spiritual paradigm today is a much more casual approach to worship, the Bible, and the call of Jesus to live a God-honoring life.  Like the mighty and powerful horse in the image above, we have bowed instead to the pursuit of things like money, power, influence, and faster, more expensive cars.  We allow the God of Creation a couple of hours every week, as we casually make our way to the church of our choice, listening to homilies and sermons which effect our lives in innocuous ways, and call this Christianity.  Today the word “Lordship” is not even in our vocabulary, and certainly not evident in many lives.

I believe to make a real difference in our world today, we must take literally – not casually – the message of Paul to the young church in Philippi.

Philippians 2:9-11
For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE WILL BOW, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Jesus is Lord and there is no such thing as a “casual” expression of His Lordship.  It requires bowing, yielding, submitting, confessing, and fealty to Him as King of life itself.





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Cart Partner

Daily Post: Partner

cart buddies

Tuesday mornings are always filled with dread and anticipation in equal proportions. Partly because of the unknown, but mostly because of what I’ve learned about the Senior Men’s Golf Association at Lake Park Golf Course in Lewisville, Texas.  Most of the 80 or so men who drag themselves out of bed at 6:00am to play golf together are older than me.  I’m the kid in the group at age 63.  I’m reasonably fit, and could walk this course faster than the average round of golf played by any given foursome on Tuesday mornings riding in golf carts.  And that’s where this story begins, with “cart partners.”

Since I’ve only been a part of the group for about six months, not only am I one of the youngest, I’m also one of the newest members of the association.  Not knowing who I will be partnered with is why I show up with both “dread and anticipation.”  Many of the guys will take a cart to the driving range and hit balls before their round, so they have already established their “driver” position in the golf cart.  I realized quickly that I could get to know someone easier if I were the “rider” not the “driver,” so I just keep my clubs up by the clubhouse while I chip and putt a little, until we’re all paired up.   I’ve ridden with the “Mario Andretti” of the group, the “slow poke,” the “Evel Knievel,” each of these men have a “style” of maneuvering the cart around the course which usually defines their personality, to say nothing of their golf swing.

Let’s be clear, the two people riding around for four hours on Tuesday mornings are more than likely cart “partners” not golf “buddies.”  Even though they all know each other, and have played together for years, the competition factor, keeps Tuesday mornings sharp and edgy.  Some can’t see farther than 100 yards down the fairway, some can’t hear when you say “it’s your shot.”  Some are totally unaware of what the other three golfers in their foursome are doing, while others have no clue regarding the term “golf etiquette.” However, generally speaking, they all get along, and we have a lot of fun… mostly.

Some of these men now know that I retired from being a pastor.  Word is getting around.  Last week, when one man, who helps run the computer, asked me if this was true, I said yes and his response was classic: “I wished I’d known before I spoke like that a few holes back.”   On the golf course, like in many other sports, men seem to feel that coarse language helps them fit in.  A couple of days ago, this past Tuesday, I was paired up again with three guys who spoke the language of “sailors” and “locker rooms.”  Then one of them asked “what did you retire from?”  Here we go again, right?  So, there on the 6th tee box, I gave a 1 minute synopsis of my pastoral background.  Same response, “well, sorry about the tirade back there…”

Here was my response then, and today, as I write these words…

I am a man, not divine.  I have my own issues which may resemble bad language to some, even if they aren’t evident to others.  I’m not your judge.  So how about we play golf knowing I won’t judge you, and you don’t judge me, for being a retired pastor.

The least verbally abusive of these three men spoke up and said, “You’re not the judge and jury, just the witness, huh?”

To which I replied, “exactly.”

I have a golf buddy who goes with me every single time to play golf.  And to the supermarket to buy food.  And to the convenience store to buy gas.  In fact, everywhere I go, He goes.  My life needs to be a witness to Him.  And while I know Jesus didn’t say these words to me personally, in my mind He did.

Acts 1:7-8
He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority; but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.

As a cart partner, or a golf buddy, go be the witness.


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Symphonic Praise

Daily Post: Symphony

symphonyMusic. Music in general, all varieties and styles, has been such a large part of my life, it many ways it defines who I am.  Mostly, I’ve been a vocal guy, participating in high school choir, college Chorale, and various small singing groups along the way.  That said, I have great respect and admiration for those who play instruments in bands and symphony orchestras.  In one brief stint, from 6th grade to 8th grade, I spent time trying to learn to play the coronet.  I was ok, but in my band director’s ears, probably mediocre at best.  When I got into 9th grade, at Andrews High School, my band director made me choose between band and football.  Seriously?  This is no contest, I was the starting fullback, and band was never again even in my rear view mirror.  Today, lots of football players also march in their high school band, but that’s how much things have changed over the last 49 years.

One of the timeless things that hasn’t changed, and will never change is the importance of how each individual believer makes up the eternal worship and symphonic praise to God, our Creator.  In the New Living Translation of Psalm 98, the translators have captured the idea, the significance, of the Symphony of Praise that should be a major part of our lives today.  Because it will most certainly be part of our experience in God’s presence throughout eternity.

Psalm 98
Sing a new song to the LORD, for he has done wonderful deeds. His right hand has won a mighty victory; his holy arm has shown his saving power!
The LORD has announced his victory and has revealed his righteousness to every nation!
He has remembered his promise to love and be faithful to Israel. The ends of the earth have seen the victory of our God.
Shout to the LORD, all the earth; break out in praise and sing for joy!
Sing your praise to the LORD with the harp, with the harp and melodious song, with trumpets and the sound of the ram’s horn. Make a joyful symphony before the LORD, the King!
Let the sea and everything in it shout his praise! Let the earth and all living things join in.
Let the rivers clap their hands in glee! Let the hills sing out their songs of joy
before the LORD. For the LORD is coming to judge the earth. He will judge the world with justice, and the nations with fairness.

If we view this image of the psalmist as a whole, we see the reasons for our worship, the instruction of who is to participate, and all the different sights and sounds that make up the symphony of praise.

The sea and everything in it, the earth and all living things, the rivers, the hills… all join in the activities of praise and worship, which humans should be leading them to do.

The reason humans should lead the symphony is based in the Lords: deeds, victory, saving power, righteousness, promises fulfilled, and faithfulness.

The humans are to sing a new song, shout to the Lord, sing praise, sing with the harp, trumpets, and ram’s horn… all joining in this great symphony.

Do you see what I see here?  The Holy Spirit used this psalmist to help us understand that every single human being, every created living creature, and all of the created plants life, all the earth itself, is supposed to participate in this worship.  Yet the only ones with choice, are the ones who are charged with leading the praise.

The psalmist doesn’t say, “if you can sing or play an instrument, be sure to sign up for the heavenly praise team.”

The psalmist doesn’t say, “I realize some of you can’t carry a tune in a bucket, so you can just sit this one out.”

The psalmist says, “No one is exempt from this most important, all-significant activity of praising the God of heaven.”

So, let’s be clear.  This psalm assumes the true Christ follower will join this praise party out of full devotion, some with overwhelming emotion, for what Jesus has offered them in His grace.  It begs the question, doesn’t it?  Do these words apply to you today?  Were these words just written for a different people group, at a different time and to a different culture, having no application for people today?  I think you know the answer here, but I’m not going to let you off that easy.

Psalm 98 is not really a choice thing.  It is spoken/written as an admonition, as instruction; not as optional for those who aren’t “musically” capable, or see themselves as “musically challenged.”  Think of it this way.  When humans fail to offer their voices (a gift of God) or their skills with instruments (a gift of God) in worship and praise to God, it is from a rebellious and stubborn heart, filled with a form of pride that robs God of His glory.

Wow.  That’s severe isn’t it? Well, perhaps it is, but I’m convinced it’s true.  The psalmist isn’t asking you to get up on stage and lead the praise.  The psalmist isn’t suggesting you do a “solo” on your instrument.  The psalmist is saying, “know your AUDIENCE!”

The audience, is the object of our worship and praise.  We sing to, and worship, Jesus. We lift our hands and our voices in a symphonic praise to exalt the King of kings.  I’m not singing for anyone around me.  I’m singing for the one who lives inside me, saving me with His powerful right hand, offering me grace every single day that I live!

And here’s the thing:

1 John 4:4
You are from God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world.

Don’t wait until Sunday morning worship… join the symphony of praise today!

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A Foggy State of Mind

Daily Post: Foggy


Yesterday was my golf day.  While the actual course I played yesterday looked nothing like this image. Yesterday it was sunny, and while not hot, it was humid, yet my scorecard might cause a person to wonder if I wasn’t playing on a foggy course like this one.  At one point I looked at my cart buddy and said, “I’m not sure what I was thinking with that shot, but it must not have been about golf.”  That’s how it is sometimes, our minds become muddled or befuddled with so many other thoughts, it’s hard to keep a clearly focused target in view.

Anyone who has had even one golf lesson can tell you, golf seems to be a simple game, but really it isn’t easy.  The list of things that can result in a good/bad golf shot seems endless.  Grip, stance, aim, club selection, swing execution, swing plane, terrain, lie of the ball, pressure to perform, wind speed and direction, target arm, back elbow, spine angle, et al creep into your thoughts like fog.  This game can often be frustrating and satisfying all at the same time.  My cart buddy yesterday said, “Well, Jim, you know why they call it golf right?  All the other four letter words were taken.”  He may be right, I don’t know.

Only the best amateur golfers shoot PAR.  Very few amateur golfers turn in sub-par scores.  Don’t be confused by these terms:  par is great, sub-par is Excellent.  Over-par is not so good, and describes the number of strokes it took you to complete your round as compared to Par (normal strokes to complete by the designer of the golf course.)  Please don’t ask me how many over-par I was yesterday.  I was playing in the foggy 6 inches between my ears.

Perhaps the reason I like the game of golf so much, is how I see it as a wonderful metaphor for life.  Some days for me, life is simple, without cares or concerns, just living this 24 hour period with no other motivation except to be who I am, and honor the Creator who gave me this life.  Other days are complicated, taxing, and full of emotional stress, while attempting to take care of details that really are important, and necessary.  The status of my mind (whether foggy or clear) usually becomes the determining factor as to how well I handle those days.  In golf, there are good days and bad days, so to stay focused you have to be able to handle both.

One of the ways golf is like life is disconcerting for me.  Yesterday I experienced it again, and it bothered me so much that I’m pretty sure it happened for a reason.  I’ve been playing golf for the better part of 50 years.  It doesn’t make me a great golfer, it makes me a student of the game, always trying to improve my score.  I have a great deal of head knowledge that hasn’t quite made its way yet from theory into the actual execution of the golf swing.  That said, when other players try to fix something in my swing (unsolicited), I don’t respond well in my head, and it often adds just another layer of frustration to an otherwise foggy and over-crowded thought process.

Yesterday’s experience caused me to wonder if there are times on this blog, when I don’t come off as sounding like the golfer who was trying to fix my swing.  I didn’t ask him to look at me and analyze my swing.  He’s not a professional golf instructor, nor did he shoot par for his round of golf.  The truth is I’m a pretty teachable man, and I usually receive instruction well.  But that air of haughtiness when he said, “Just give me 10 minutes after the round today, and I’ll fix this for you,” was just a little more than I needed at the time.

I post almost every day on this website, because I want to be helpful to people, by offering hope, comfort, or some answers for my life I have found in the Bible.  I don’t want to be intrusive, and I readily admit I don’t have a detailed solution for every single problem in life.  However, a foggy state of mind, whether in golf or the spiritual realm, can often have negative results.  So I try to write in such a way that a person can see the Creator.  My desire is that each reader would be inspired to seek God in new ways, or read more of the Bible on their own, allowing God’s Holy Spirit to be their teacher.

My prayer for you today is that as you read these words, God’s Spirit will help clear your mind of whatever fog is distracting you from seeing Jesus clearly today.  My purpose remains, to experience God’s grace renewed in me again today, and to extend His glory to the ends of the earth.  I pray this is your purpose too.



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