Saturday, June 13, 2009


We ate lunch at a restaurant this week with Ryan and Angela and our two of our amazing grandchildren, Maya and Sophie. Sophie is just over one still has this incredibly cute, unstable, tee tottering “walk” and after she finished eating we let her walk around the table a little. At the next table were some teenage girls who spotted Sophie and smiled at her. That’s like saying “sic ‘em” to a dog, so she took a few “steps” toward them and just stood there coyly smiling at them while they made a huge fuss over her. Maya, now three, and also devastatingly cute, but no longer in the “very-cute-baby-who-just-started-walking-category” saw this, and so after Sophie had moved on to other pursuits, Maya walked over to where Sophie had been standing and eagerly looked at the teenaged girls hoping to elicit a similar response. Sadly, they ignored her (I’m not blaming them, I fully understand). So, she began to walk back and forth a little closer, her eyes locked on the one girl who had given so much attention to Sophie. Maya was smiling hopefully as she held her arms out and started to twirl to get their attention . . . nothing. Seeing this, I started to call Maya’s name to divert her from this painful effort to be noticed, but she was intent on getting the same attention her little sister got.

I wanted to say to the other table, “Would you please pay attention to my other grandchild?” but I didn’t. I don’t know if I was more sad for Maya’s disappointment at that moment (after all, we could “fix” it pretty quickly) or if I was more sad knowing that what had just happened on a very small scale was going to happen again and again throughout Maya’s life on a much larger scale, as it does to everyone of us in this broken world where our deep longing to be loved is so often unfulfilled.

I couldn’t help but think what a parable of life that little drama was that unfolded before me. We may not be so obvious in our efforts to be noticed and valued, but it’s what we all long for – “Will someone please notice me? Will someone please do something that tells me I have value and worth? Will someone please LOVE me?”

Proverbs 19:22 is a profound commentary on human nature, “What a man desires is unfailing love.”

Much of our lives we’re on a quest – a life-time search for love – TRUE LOVE – unfailing love, “no-matter-what” love, unconditional love.

This is the focus of our sermons this weekend at Calvary, "DOES TRUE LOVE EXIST?'

Ultimately, that longing for love can only be fully satisfied when we find ourselves embraced by the love of God.

Friday, May 01, 2009

WOW! What a sermon!

Have you ever listened to a sermon and thought, "That was just for me! How did he know all that about me and what I've experienced?"

This week someone sent me a link to a sermon by Mark Dricoll. It's long (over an hour), but worth every minute. As I listened to the message, for me it was revealing, astonishingly familiar (has he been looking over my shoulder?), comforting, convicting, challenging, humbling, affirming, reassuring, helpful, encouraging, insightful, and pretty amazing.

Here's the link:

Monday, April 20, 2009


The following is an email my cousin Brian sent me today. It's a bit different than what I would normally jump on, but has a serious message that is much needed in many churches (including ours) today. I might add, "Bin Gossipin" and "Bin Dividing." Here's the email:

"Latest news reports are that five terrorist cell groups have been operating in many of our churches.They have been identified as: Bin Sleepin, Bin Arguin, Bin Fightin, Bin Complainin, and Bin Missin.

Their leader, Osama Bin Lucifer, trained these groups to destroy the Body of Christ. The plan is to come into the church disguised as Christians and to work within the church to discourage, disrupt, and destroy.

However, there have also been reports of a sixth group. A tiny cell known by the
name Bin Prayin is actually the only effective counter terrorism force in the church. This group appears to be very weak. Unlike other terrorist cells, the Bin Prayin team does not blend in with whoever and whatever comes along.

Bin Prayin does whatever is needed to uplift and encourage the Body of Christ. We have noticed that the Bin Prayin cell group has different characteristics than the others. They have Bin Watchin, Bin Waitin, Bin Fastin, and Bin Longin for their Master, Jesus Christ to return.

To which cell group do you belong?"

Saturday, April 11, 2009


Jesus' resurrection from the dead makes:
the Bible irrefutable,
faith reasonable,
judgment inevitable,
forgiveness possible,
victory attainable,
Christianity indisputable,
confidence unshakeable,
sin unconscionable,
life meaningful,
siffering bearable,
sorrow endureable,
sacrifice accepable,
silence inexcuseable,
hope unquestionable, and
heaven certifiable.

Saturday, March 28, 2009


Without question, history’s most shocking transformation of something loathsome and terrible into something beautiful and beloved is THE CROSS.

The cross was one of the most painful implements of torture and execution ever devised by evil men. As awful as gallows are, they at least bring death quickly and with a minimum of suffering. The cross on the other hand purposefully delayed death in order to extend and maximize suffering.

To die on a cross was the ultimate horror, the ultimate disgrace, the ultimate failure.

But today the cross has become the most treasured religious symbol in the world. Covered with gold, the cross is worn as decorative jewelry on a necklace or bracelet. The cross is a frequent subject of artists, an ever-present architectural emblem, the most revered religious icon, and a favored theme of poets and musicians.

Imagine singing about cherishing the gallows, or clinging to an electric chair. Imagine wearing a gold-plated noose around one’s neck as jewelry, or of having a miniature gallows decorating your fireplace mantle.

Yet millions of people nostalgically sing about “loving [and] cherishing the old rugged cross,” of the “wondrous attraction [and] beauty” it holds for them, and pledge always to “cling to it.”

The astonishing transformation of the cross from something unspeakably ugly to something fantastically beautiful is a metaphor for what Jesus does in the life of those who believe and follow Him. He transforms us! He takes the ugliness of our sin and transforms us into a brand new people, not yet perfected, but irresistably moving down the path of becoming more and more like Jesus in what we think and say and do.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009


Getting a new body is huge business today -- from surgeries, pills, diets, exercise plans, flattering clothes, etc.

Standing by a hospital bed today listening to a friend indicating that the surgical procedure he will have tomorrow carries life-threatening risk, the conversation turned to the great hope of Christians for the resurrection of the body.

We talked about N.T. Wright's great book, Surprised by Hope, in which he reminds us that heaven is a wonderful but temporary future home for Christ-followers. Jesus' resurrection guarantees our resurrection -- not to an etherial, spirit-existence floating around the clouds or beyond, but to physical life on the new earth in a world as it was intended to be at the beginning.

From the time of the original fall into sin God promised to send a Rescuer to restore His ruined creation to its original perfection.

Age, illness, and accidents can make life in these fallen bodies less than pleasant at times. But for those who embrace new life through faith in Jesus' redemptive work, the RESTORATION OF ALL THINGS, including our physical bodies, is thrilling.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009


Hmmmm. Does it make sense to order someone to be joyful?

Tonight our LIFEGroup will discuss chapter four of John Ortberg's excellent book, THE LIFE YOU'VE ALWAYS WANTED. He reminds us that God is the most joyful Being in the universe and that Jesus desired and prayed that the full measure of His joy would be in us (John 15, 17). Paul twice commanded believers to rejoice always (Philippians 4:4; 1 Thessalonians 5:16).

Even a cursory glance at Biblical references to joy (they are many!) will reveal that joy and sorrow are compatible, even essential in a broken world awaiting Jesus' return and promise to restore everylasting joy (Isaiah 35 et al).

Ortberg shockingly identifies joylessness as sin . . . one not often discussed or condemned. He gives practical suggestions for upping strategic celebration and the joy factor in our lives, including regularly setting aside a day for joy.

In the midst of often heart-crunching sadness, the reminder that "joy flows from a certain kind of thinking . . . exchatological thinking" was most helpful. Viewing "all events in light of the Resurrection and the ultimate triumph of the risen Christ" comprises "eschatological thinking."

Jesus endured the cross because of His own eschatological thinking (Hebrews 12:1, 2).

Sheldon Van Auken said, "The best evidence for Christianity is Christians, their joy, their certainty, and their completeness. And the best evidence against Christianity is Christians, when they are joyless and somber, self-righteous and smug, then Christianity dies a thousand deaths."

Tuesday, March 17, 2009


That doesn't sound like fun -- self-denial.

Jesus' call to self-denial is a reminder of how counter-cultural His kindom is. So many things are up-side-down. The first will be last. Lose your life to find it. Love your enemies.

I'm reading a great new book by Richard Stearns, THE HOLE IN THE GOSPEL. He includes a quote at the begining of chapter two: "The true gospel is a call to self-denial. It is not a call to self-fulfillment."

I fear that the Western Church has too often turned the Gospel into a means to achieve self-fulfillment, and in the process lost the gospel and true fulfillment.

I need to think about this.

Friday, March 13, 2009

People are God-like – made in His image, of immense worth. Hence, to be treated with respect and love.

People are sheep-like – so said the prophet, our Savior, and His apostle. An old song admits, “Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it.” Sheep go astray.

People need shepherds – the Scripture so designates governmental leaders and pastors.

Shepherds are also sheep, hence sometimes wander.

There are good shepherds and bad shepherds. Sheep can’t always tell the difference. Bad shepherds need to be identified, not followed.

Shepherds and sheep are also God-like, hence worthy of respect and love, even though they go astray.

Jesus is the Good Shepherd who gave His life for the sheep. To be a good shepherd, I too must be willing to lay my life down for the wandering sheep. Redemption comes through the cross.

The cross is hard . . .especially for a sheep.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

I marvel at God’s love.

I don’t think I could offer one of my children to be tortured and crucified for the persistent, willful, ugly sins of those who had trampled on all the good things I had given and planned for them.

“Yet it was the Lord’s will to crush Him [Jesus] and cause Him to suffer” (Isaiah 53:10). One translation renders the verse, “Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise Him.”

I cannot comprehend God’s pleasure in the crushing of His Son. As a parent, I agonize when I know any of our children or grandchildren are hurting. The pain is exponentially greater when I am aware that my own failures have caused or contributed to their pain. I cannot imagine taking pleasure in the pain of my child.

I am made in God’s image. That is why I have emotions. When I feel my children’s pain, I learn about the pain God must have felt as He observed His Son’s suffering – suffering beyond anything we can imagine. His willingness to endure that pain and allow, even plan, the pain of His Son reveals the extent of His love.

How could God be pleased in His Son’s bruising? I can only guess that His eternal perspective sees so clearly the wonderful and eternal results of Jesus’ suffering that He is able to have pleasure even in His Son’s pain that produces such great results.

I suppose that if my faith in God’s inexorable plan for His children to turn all of their pain into good -- eternal good – then I would be more able to deal with the pain of those I love. I must learn, by faith, to view pain through the lens of the future when God will not merely wipe away all tears, but grant the crown of life to those who endure trials (James 1:12).

Friday, February 20, 2009

"Jesus loves the little children of the world."

As a child and teenager, we used to sing that chorus a lot: "Jesus loves the little children, all the children of the world. Red and yellow black and white, all are precious in His sight..."

Last night Gloria and I saw the movie, Slum Dog Millionaire. Wow! I'm not surprised it's in the running for an Oscar this week. If you read a little about how it was produced before you watch, it will add layers of appreciation to the experience. It's a great story.

Knowing that the slums pictured were the real thing, not a movie "set," moved me deeply. It's so easy as I live in "Disney World" (the USA) to forget the plight of billions of people, especially children, around the world. I wanted to turn in my bucket of popcorn and give the money to someone who would help the children.

I don't want to lose the way I was touched nor the sense of urgency to know how best I should live in this "flat earth" where I have to work hard to not know about global suffering.

I must not be paralyzed by the struggle to balance the need to reach out with Jesus' compassion to allieviate suffering with the even greater need to address peoples' allienation from God.

"Lord, show me how to live in this broken world, and how to be an agent of your Kingdom as we wait for 'the restoration of all things.' Speed the day!"

Thursday, February 19, 2009


David recently blogged about leadership and it so resonated with me that I made a "comment" which I'll post on my blog today (to the amazement of those who thought I must have gone into a nursing home without internet connection).

I so agree. Having been caught up in the "leadership movement" myself and more damaged than helped by it, I concur. The familiar mantra, "Everything rises and falls on leadership," leaves something out -- GOD! "Leadership" is one of many spiritual gifts, never exalted above the others in Scripture. I have seen gifted people ruined by the "leadership" movement, and I almost fired a GEM once because I thought he didn't measure up to the "leadership" koolaide I had been drinking.

God uses leaders and leadership, but great leadership can be a detriment as well as a blessing.

Hitler was a great leader. Not everything that "rises with leadership" is a good thing. A "great church" can be built on leadership, but it might not be a godly church.

Saturday, January 03, 2009


On January 1, 1705, this is the resolution that Matthew Henry wrote in his journal:

“Not renouncing, but repeating and ratifying all my former covenants with God, and lamenting it, that I have not lived up more closely to them; I do in the beginning of this New Year solemnly make a fresh surrender of myself, my whole self, body, soul and spirit, to God the Father, Son and Holy Ghost, my Creator, Redeemer, and Sanctifier, covenanting and promising, not in any strength of my own, for I am very weak, but in the strength of the grace of Jesus Christ, that I will endeavor this year to stand complete in all the will of God.

I know this is the will of God, even my sanctification; Lord grant that this year I may be more holy, and walk more closely than ever in all holy conversation; I earnestly desire to be filled with Thy holy thoughts, to be carried out in holy affections, determined by holy aims and intentions, and governed in all my words and actions by holy principles. O, that a golden thread of holiness may run through the whole web of this year.”