Thursday, July 27, 2017

Profiting on Christianity?? WRITE

But thanks be to God, who always leads us as captives in Christ’s triumphal procession and uses us to spread the aroma of the knowledge of him everywhere. For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. To the one we are an aroma that brings death; to the other, an aroma that brings life. And who is equal to such a task? Unlike so many, we do not peddle the word of God for profit. On the contrary, in Christ we speak before God with sincerity, as those sent from God. 

Monday, July 24, 2017

Legalism- a Persistent Problem

I have written before about legalism.  How the Pharisees and Scribes of Jesus' day had taken legalism to its pinnacle.  Remember the cliff illustration?  "Helping G^d, by building high walls to keep us from falling into sin narrows the path so much we inevitably fall into legalism.

What is legalism?  It is reliance on our obedience to the law to earn our place with G^d.  It is futile and ends up with Christians criticizing other Christians for not falling into the trap of reliance on the Law as a means to reach G^d.  It also irritates our brothers and sisters in Christ.

As our Sunday School class discussed Romans 7 this morning, it dawned on me.  Legalism does NOT elevate the Law so much as it Diminishes it.  That is the Law was given to mankind to illustrate clearly how MUCH WE NEED A SAVIOR!!  Did you hear that?  As I seek my justification in the LAW I fail to see that I can NEVER succeed.  The LAW is too hard.

On the other hand, keeping the LAW, to the extent I can, is how I express gratitude to G^d for saving me by the BLOOD of the Christ.  PLUS, the LAW tells me the best possible way to live.  BUT the LAW is to show my sin, not save me.  I need the CHRIST for that.

I endeavor to keep the Law for gratitude and for optimal living, but NOT for salvation.  And if I see you struggling I may inquire if I can be of help, but I won't be forcing my view of the LAW on you. It is INDEED DUMB to ignore G^d's Law, but that's generally between you and G^d, unless you allow/request me to help.

So, let us NOT diminish the Law!!

Thursday, July 20, 2017

End of an Era



I am FINALLY, and, at the moment, HAPPILY retired from a career in Higher Education.  Above you can see my LAST three classes.

In retrospect, I had a truly BLESSED career.  I loved the people with whom I worked, the students (at least MOST of them), the research, the travel, the prestige (no, seriously).

I THANK G^D for this great career.  I cannot imagine a better career, or a better environment.

Thanks be to the L^rd!

Monday, July 17, 2017

The Devil's in the Details

I am NOT a detail guy.  Most of my friends have probably picked up on that.  I have published about 188 scientific papers, one book, and a bunch of magazine articles.  I can write very quickly, but I have great difficulty in conforming to the detailed requirements.  Typically I try to do the Big PICT stuff and get my collaborators to deal with the details.

I was recently listening to two different sermons on the SAME passage of Scripture, and the same thought came to mind.  I really identified with the BIG PICT sermon, but really struggled to find meaning and application with the detail-oriented sermon.

That is NOT a criticism of the detailed sermon it is a REMINDER that G^d made each of us unique.  I am NOT detailed, but I appreciate, probably more than most, the gift of those friends who are detail-oriented.  Likewise, I appreciate those detailed friends who can appreciate my inclinations towards the BIG picture.

Some of you dear readers, will recognize this is merely another re-statement of the obvious truth that G^d created each part of the body with different gifts and different functions.  Sadly we so often try to convert everyone to be JUST LIKE US!!

NO!!!!!  G^d knows what HE is doing.

Romans 12, I Corinth 12, and other places G^d makes it clear that we are NOT meant to all be alike. Just as clearly, we NEED each other, no matter what we think about our own gifts and how indispensable these gifts are (but just to us)!!

So, thanks be to G^d that he did NOT make everybody a Big-Pict person.  We need each other.

Thanks for being YOU!

Thursday, July 13, 2017

IF NOTHING is Prohibited, so WHY does Everyone Feel Gulity?



For the history of mankind, everyone has hoped that they could make their OWN rules, and live by those.  Then, of course, when we try to do just that we find our own rules a bit too confining, so we loosen those.

But, regardless of our ability to Rationalize most any behavior, we still MUST deal, inexplicably, with...guilt!

Odd that.

We feel guilty about:
  • Our carbon footprint,
  • Our failure to eliminate Racism,
  • Our failure to elect the right person to some office or the other,
  • US military interventions,
  • US military non-interventions,
  • Our failureS as parents, children, neighbors, spouses, etc.


A few years ago there was a popular female Christian singer, Julie Miller, who recorded a popular song titled, "My Psychiatrist".  The words in the song went something like this,
"They said when I felt guilty, my mother was the cause,
Now I know the reason is, only that I was."

That's pretty clear, pretty honest, and pretty useful.

And, surprisingly our abandonment of religion, particularly Christianity, has done little to assuage our guilt.  We are vaguely aware, even as ardent atheists, that we DO indeed bear guilt and we do INDEED need to be FORGIVEN.
In Julie Miller's song, she talks about her NEW psychiatrist, Jesus the Christ.  She speaks of his "experience" and his low (free) fees.
Maybe Ms. Miller was onto something.


Monday, July 10, 2017

How can I NOT forgive Others when G^d has forgiven me

One of my neighbors is a veteran pastor with over 50 years in ministry.  I asked him, last Saturday, as we stood in my driveway, about his favorite sermon.  Once he understood what I was asking, he quickly said that Luke 7 was his favorite passage to preach on.

If you don't know what that passage is about, it is the story of Jesus dining with a Pharisee.  A prostitute comes in and immediately begins, with her long hair,  wiping the feet of Jesus which have been wetted with her tears.  I am giving the very short version, so go to Luke 7:36-50 and read the story.

The punch line is the KEY here.  Jesus is called out by his host who thinks it improper to let a "sinful woman" touch him.  Instead Jesus blesses the woman and forgives her sin!!

Whoa!

Here is a career prostitute and Jesus forgives her!  When asked about it, Jesus replies, as usual, with a question, "41 “Two people owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii,[c] and the other fifty. 42 Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he forgave the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?”
43 Simon replied, “I suppose the one who had the bigger debt forgiven.”
“You have judged correctly,” Jesus said.

So, my problem, so often, is I FAIL to recognize the extent to which I have been forgiven and fall into the same trap as the Pharisee.  How can I condemn anyone, regardless of their life style, when I have been forgiven of so much?

"48 Then Jesus said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.”

Thanks be to G^d for His abundant grace!

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Why AIA Honduras?


Why would a rational person: 1) Raise money to travel on a foreign mission, 2) Leave the comforts of home and culture, 3) Travel with a bunch of strangers, 4) Give up a week of vacation, and 5) Lose sleep and 6) Risk parasites or worse?  Tourism?  Not even close!  There are only a couple of hours scheduled for even buying souvenirs.
Image may contain: 13 people, people smiling, outdoor
So Why do this?  There are several reasons: 1) Because we can, 2) Because we see the value, and 3)Because we choose to spend our “treasures on earth” to gain “treasures in heaven”! (Matt 6 :19-21).  So far, we have been able to: pray for our brothers and sisters, by name, in Honduras, provide educational service to the National University, the Technical University, and the Honduras Olympic Committee, give numerous testimonies to the participants in each venue, pray and support one another, and, most importantly, see many, many students, and some faculty, express interest in learning more about, and serving, Christ through the local ministry team.
Sure, we need a few treasures on earth - food, shelter, clothing-, but these things will soon pass away.  But… when we invest in heaven, the benefits are eternal.  That Bible passage concludes by telling us that, “Where our treasure is, there will our heart be also.”  We struggle, like most people, with where our treasure is. 
Some of us older team members know by experience, and the younger team members know by faith, that mission trips, with their demands, and rewards, help us greatly in transferring our desires from earthly to heavenly ones. And that is WHY.  We have been changed by each other, by our colleagues in Honduras, and by some of the people we attempted to serve.  We will not be the same going back home as we were coming here.  We have laid up a small bit of treasure in heaven.  We will forget some of what we learned, but our heart has been changed a small bit, for eternity.  And that is REALLY WHY!


Monday, July 3, 2017

What Price Freedom? Lessons from the Great Civil Civil War



There is still disagreement among historians on the essential cause of the US Civil War.  There is NO disagreement that it was the bloodiest Conflict in the US military history, costing more lives than any other.

Regardless of the side on which a soldier fought, the soldiers on both sides suffered enormous hardship with over 600,000 soldiers dying in the conflict.  think about it!

In deep disagreement on slavery, states rights, and whatever else, over 600,000 died to fight for a cause.  Would you?

So many of us are reluctant to give up even our convenience and comfort for the cause we know to be true- The Cause of the Christ.  How about you?

For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and lose his own soul?  Or what will a man give for a soul?  (Lk 16:26).

Thursday, June 29, 2017

A Chat with General Hiram Ulysses Grant


I had a great conversation with the man enacting General Grant at the Appomattox Court House surrender reenactment. He looked a LOT like the pictures I have seen of the General.  General Grant talked a lot about this youth.  His father, who, from the General's viewpoint was pretty tough guy, called him, "Lyss", which I found endearing.

I asked the General about how he ended up at the US Military Academy, which also prompted the story of how his name got messed up.  Ulysses' Dad got in his mind that his son was very well suited to military life and command and decided he needed to go to West Point.  Unfortunately Mr. Grant was NOT on good terms with his local Congressman, and a Congressional appointment was, and is, still required for admission to the academies. But, somehow the senior Mr. Grant swallowed his pride and requested an appointment to USMA for his son.  The Congressman obliged, but NOT knowing Hiram U Grant's full name, assumed the son was Ulysses Simpson (his mother's maiden name) Grant- which of course gave his the appealing initials of "U.S." Grant.

Well, as soon as the appointment was set, that night at the dinner table, Lyss' father informed his son that he was headed to West Point for his education.  the young Grant took umbrage at this idea and informed his father that indeed he WOULD NOT go the USMA.  But... upon further reflection, the young Ulysses, whose name had been change unbeknownst to him, decided that perhaps he should indeed honor his father.

So,  on 1 July (the day and month I write) 1843 U.S. Grant graduated 21st in his class from USMA (out of 39 graduates). I might guess that this inauspicious beginning might have led me to predict that little would come of the military career of this "mid-pack" graduate, but once again, I would be bad wrong. Though he was perhaps NOT one of our greatest U.S. Presidents, he certainly distinguished himself in leading a war which preserved the Union. But even MORE REMARKABLY, General Grant was WISE enough to Treat the surrendered Confederate Army with extreme dignity.  This may have been his GREATEST achievement.

Think about it- showing grace and mercy could also be one of OUR OWN "greatest achievements".  May it be so! 



Monday, June 26, 2017

A Second Conversation with General Robert E Lee

In my last post I told about Brenda and me visiting the Appomattox Courthouse where the end of the US Civil war occurred.  It was a beautiful Saturday PM at Appomattox Courthouse and we absolutely loved seeing the reenactments and chatting with the re-enactors.  We could have stayed MUCH longer, but we had a dinner appointment back in Lynchburg.

I knew our time was growing short, and I wanted to get another chat with Gen. R.E. Lee. He had a free moment, but I knew it wouldn't last long.  So, I picked my #1 question.  "General Lee, why did you go to USMA?"
"Well," said the good General, my family was too poor for me to go anywhere else."

In case you might not know, the US academies are tuition free, plus room and board is free, as are clothes and books.  A pretty good deal, especially when you have no money.  In fact, the General's reason was exactly the same as the reason I went to the US Naval Academy.  My brother had discovered the academy, and my Dad's peak earnings were about $13k, with a wife and 5 kids.  Sooooo, that was my ONLY option.

In retrospect it was TERRIFIC!  They wore us out our plebe (freshman) year, but I got a terrific EDUCATION!!  I was essentially trained as an engineer, but the academic rigors were good for me and I loved learning.  Every night I left the chow hall (we all ate all meals together), and without sitting down in my room gathered my books and went to the library from about 6:30 PM to about 9:30 PM, came back to my room and went to sleep.

It was pretty spartan, but it fit me and my personality.  General Lee was, I believe, first in his class there.  I didn't do nearly that well, but did graduate with honors- which surprised me more than anyone.

General Lee is revered as one of the greatest Americans of his generation.  I think maybe what he learned at USMA had something to do with that.  I am glad I got to teach there in 1997-98.  As a non-historian, I have to admit, I love history.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

A Chat with General R. E. Lee

This past Saturday was 8 April.  This was the 152nd anniversary of the Weekend of the US Civil war surrender at Appomattox Courthouse.  We live about 30 min from there, and LOVE historical things.
We didn't find out about it until the Friday before, but we had thought about going over anyway, so it was an easy decision.

It was fantastic... so fantastic I can't tell you about the whole day in just one blog post, so I'll make it a two-parter (or maybe 3).

This particular anniversary aligned exactly with the original event in terms of days of the week and proximity to Easter.  Though the original would be impossible to replicate, they did a marvelous job of setting things up.  All the BIG players were there:

  • General R.E. Lee
  • General H. U. Grant (more about his name next post)
  • General Joshua Chamberlain (a Professor)
  • General Rawlins
  • Major Spears
  • General Seth Williams
  • And lots more.
As you might imagine, if you know me, General R.E. Lee was the man I most wanted to meet.  Each actor was dressed appropriately right down to General Grant's mud-covered boots.

I had two conversations with General Lee.  The first one I asked my most burning question.  An U of AL, American Studies professor had once remarked, "People so admire General Robert E. Lee and his expertise, but never consider that his military skill resulted in thousands of unnecessary deaths."

Think about that.  A legitimate point?  Not really. I am certain the man making that bogus point had NEVER been even close to being a part of any military unit.

The US military does NOT make policy, pass laws, or decide who to battle- that is done by the politicians.  However, once it is decided, every military leaders goal is crystal clear:  keep your men alive and kill or capture the enemy.  The better you achieve those two simple goals, the better you have done your job.  My American Studies prof would never grasp that so I never bothered to explain it to him.

But, Saturday I posed this to General Lee.  He looked solemn and gave a similar reply.  His view was that the US Government was taking illegal action in dictating what states could/could not do.  The violation of what, to him, was clear legal US principles, gave him no choice but to resign his commission with the US Army and take up arms to defend what he felt to be Constitutional principles.  Every Officer of the US military swears to support and defend the Constitution of the USA, and General Lee was, without doubt, a man of honor.  He was fighting for what he believed in, and he was going to keep as many of his men alive as he could.

Enough said.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Los Benediciones (Blessings)


We are Blessed by G^d in many ways, many times, but quite often we fail to recognize what G^d is doing and HOW he Blesses us.  One of the great aspects of mission trips, especially those outside the USA, is that G^d’s Blessings are much more obvious.

Indulge us for a few minutes, whilst we list some of G^d’s Blessings that we have already seen:
·       Getting 8 people together from British Columbia, Oregon, California, Ohio, New York, Virginia, and Alabama, is no easy task.  With the airline’s outbreak of fights over seats, cancelled flights, diverted flights, and people disrupting flights, getting to your destination is NOT something to be taken for granted.  Thanks be to G^d for Blessing us with safe travels… all the way to Tegucigalpa.

·       Forming a working team from a bunch of strangers is also something NOT to be taken for granted. Our team, with an age span of almost 50 years, with different areas of expertise, and 8 unique personalities has melded extremely well. We enjoy each other, support each other, and work well together.  Thanks be to G^d!  The stressors can be high, so getting along well is a super Blessing!

·       The ministry has gone very well indeed.  The two Universities and the Olympic Training Center have been very enthusiastic in receiving our team.  We have given our testimonies to over 300, and many of those hearers have heard more than one testimony.  Many, many audience members have expressed an interest in learning more about Christianity and Athletes in Action.  What a BLESSING!

·       Our Cru AIA hosts have been extremely helpful and grateful. One of our goals is to build good will for the local missionaries, the Joya’s, who have worked here over 20 years and will be here long after we leave.  What a Blessing this family is to Teguchigalpa, to Honduras, to the Body of the Christ, and to us.  What a Blessing!


Thanks for praying!  G^d has Blessed us richly, and we pray he will Bless you, and you will clearly see those Blessings!  Bless you!

Thursday, June 15, 2017

End of an Episode

I am finally there- the end of my career of teaching in Higher Education.  It feels a bit funny.  For all of my life, since my teen years, I have worked, and typically worked quite hard.

G^d directed my path into University teaching, and it has been a GREAT career.  I have met wonderful people in my classes, worked with terrific people, and visited some great places.  The pay has been excellent, the travel top notch, and the career has given me lots of opportunity to TRY to influence the present and future leaders of the world.  Who could ask for more.

My emotions are obviously and expectedly mixed.  I am sorrow to be leaving this role, but happy to get a bit of a break.  My wife and others have asked whether I would miss teaching.  I don't think I will, because I will still get these opportunities.  I have offered to teach in several venues, and expect one of these will pan out.  I expect to teach Sunday School and give an occasional sermon.

I have lots of projects in mind.  Besides working with Cru Faculty Commons, I have some book ideas, a couple of inventions to perfect, and several other things I hope to finish.  The thought of finishing my Professor career is displaced by the thoughts of finishing several OTHER things that have been awaiting their time.

So, maybe it is NOT so much the end of an episode as it is a slight shift in theme.  Ultimately, the thing that matters is that I LISTEN to G^d and do whatever He directs.  Still looking forward to hearing,

"Well done thou good and faithful SERVANT"!

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Rejoice with me, for I have FOUND that which I had lost!

In the Parable of the Lost Coin (Jn 15), Jesus says this,
“Or what woman, having ten silver coins, if she loses one coin, does not light a lamp and sweep the house and seek diligently until she finds it? And when she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin that I had lost.’ 10 Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”

Brenda and I have a WHOLE new appreciation for that parable now.  I am JUST back from a mission trip to Honduras with Cru. I'll say more about that later, but first the Lost Coin... or better the Lost Passport.

It is the last day of April 2017 and it dawns on me that I do NOT know where my passport is located.  When we got back from Japan last August, I took it out of its usual spot in my traveler backpack, so as NOT to lose it on a U.S. trip.  Well, 3 June I was scheduled to leave for Honduras.  The BIG CATCH was, we had packed up MOST of our VA clothes, household goods, books, and files. And, we had packed our passports somewhere in all those boxes!!

Well, we systematically opened and inspected EVERY single box! No luck.  So, a second time,
we systematically opened and inspected EVERY STINKING box!  No luck.  

Now, passports get LOST often, so the State Dept has procedures for reporting them lost, and for issuing replacements... but at a VERY steep charge and not all that fast.  I was leaving the USA on 3 June, and 3 May was rapidly approaching- a key deadline.  I was worried, very worried, and missed some sleep that night.

So, I came home from work early the next day and it was raining off and on.   Brenda had suggested we PULL OUT all the boxes from the garage into the driveway to facilitate our THIRD search, but the rain killed that idea. So, we looked in all our suitcases first (about a dozen of them). Then we started searching boxes. It was about the 3rd box when we found Brenda's jewelry box, where I recalled I had stashed them. We were OVERjoyed!! But when I opened it, not a trace of anyone's passport!! Joy diminishes somewhat- but at least we know where it isn't.

Hmm, well, I must have accidentally packed the passports when I packed my clothes, since the passports were in a clothes drawer. Well, about 5 bags of clothes later- NO luck. I went back into the garage seeking another clothes bag... and there was a little blue NAVY bag, and as soon as I opened it I saw Brenda's Passport holder!! I knew next to hers, was mine!

JOY, JOY, JOY!!

I know how the angels feel now!  "
"'Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin (means PASSPORT in Aramaic) that I had lost.’  Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”

We spent the next couple of hours rejoicing!  Rejoice now with us.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Hmm, Why haven't I ever Thought of That Before??

We are in our local Men's Bible study at 0645 in Chik-Fil-A, and we are talking about the Transfiguration of the Christ.  As I am looking at the Scriptural texts that deal with this wonderful event it occurs to me that in Jesus ALL the spiritual gifts are fully, perfectly, incorporated.

Which gifts?  In Romans 12 we get this list:

  • Prophecy 
  • Serving
  • Teaching
  • Exhortation 
  • Giving 
  • Leading
  • Mercy.


In I Corinthians, we see these other ones:


  • Healing
  • Miracles
  • Word of wisdom
  • Word of knowledge
  • Faith
  • Distinguishing of spirits
  • Tongues
  • Interpretation of tongues.



In us, we may have one or even two or three gifts.  We tend to feel superior to others without those particular gifts, but "God has allotted to each a measure of faith."  It is not ours, but G^d's gift to us.  He, and He alone, determines our gifting, and all of our gifts OUGHT to work together.

But The Christ exemplifies ALL of these.  What a Savior!!  Let's endeavor to be MORE like Him!!

Monday, June 5, 2017

Graduation Speakers- A few Thoughts

President D. Trump spoke at the LU graduation on 13 May.  I just looked at a long list of famous people speaking at Universities around the country.  The U of AL was NOT on this list.

I know who spoke at UA the weekend before, without asking.  NO one!

YES! In one of the smartest moves in the hsitory of Hihger Education, the U of AL decided many years back to invite NO ONE to speak at commencement.  Great call.

Why?

Why do people GO to graduation?  They do NOT go to hear a great speech by a great speaker.  They go to receive a diploma or cheer on someone receiving said diploma. NOT rocket science here.

Several years back the U of A president, Dr. Bob Whitt, invited some famous person who happened to hold quite liberal political views.  The speaker was standing up in front a very large crowd, enjoying the attentinon. Feeling a bit full of himself, I guess, he decided to tell folks what THEY should tink about some polictial issue.  This is the deep South, mind you.

The audience booed, and booed loudly.  This is bad for the speaker, for Pres. Whitt, for the graduates and even for the booing crowd.  But is is resolved fairly easy in the future- NO SPEAKERS.

Again, no one, interested in graduation, comes for the speaker- so WHY have one?

See, some problems are not so hard to solve!

Thursday, June 1, 2017

So What's the Point?

Ever find yourself asking that question, "So what's the point"?

I ask it a lot, though typically it's a question I ask myself. I am fortunate to hear Bible teaching and Spiritual lessons very often. And those sometimes provoke that question.

I see speakers, athletes, musicians, even magicians giving sermons, lectures, testimonies, and I often ask that question. I prefer NOT asking it.  I prefer when the point is loud, clear, and relevant.

I get, on occasion, to move to the other side- to be the one giving the talk. I ask myself, "So what's the point?"  I always HAVE a point, though sadly it may be much more clear to me than to the listener. I do endeavor to make the point, make it multiple times and multiple ways. But, I am pretty sure that I FAIL at this effort, far too often.

And, perhaps more important, when I have a point to make, is it WORTH making? I teach, and I THINK that what I teach will matter, much, to these students. There isn't enough time to teach the stuff that likely won't matter. And, in the end, it is strictly up to me, and my judgement is flawed.

I ask myself, in 100 years what will matter? If not, then maybe the point isn't worth too much. But, the souls of man DO endure, for eternity. So some points DO matter.

So what's your point?

Monday, May 29, 2017

That Squirrel Story

In a previous post, I alluded to "the Squirrel Story.  A foreign friend requested to hear it.  So, at risk of repeating the story to those who have heard it over and over, here it is.

A Sunday School teacher was teaching his group of 5th graders, and asked this question,

"What's grey, eats nuts, lives in trees, and has a bushy tail?"

No one answers, so the teacher repeats the question.

"What's grey, eats nuts, lives in trees, and has a bushy tail?"

No one answers, so the teacher repeats the question.

"What's grey, eats nuts, lives in trees, and has a bushy tail?"
One little boy timidly raises his hand, and the teacher happily calls on him.

Ok Johnny, tell us, "What's grey, eats nuts, lives in trees, and has a bushy tail?"

"I know the answer must be 'Jesus', but it sounds like a squirrel to me." replies Johnny.

Just like these youngsters, we sometimes learn the "correct" answer, and fail to see the true answer.

And that, my friends, can be a grave mistake!

Thursday, May 25, 2017

What do you know now that you wish you had known at age 20? Part 2

A few days back you read my advice to myself at age 20.  Here is Brenda's take on it.

Things I would tell myself about life if I could speak with my 20 year old self.....

Don't spend so much time thinking about what other people will think of the way you look, in actuality.....folks aren't looking at you. :)

Show more hospitality and don't be afraid that my "things" (home, cooking, etc.)  don't measure up to theirs......the things that folks remember is how you showed love to them.

You just can't please some folks, no matter what  you say or do.....just love them anyway.

When things, relationships, don't go as I think that they should, don't stress so much over them.  In looking back God has used those hard people/times to knock rough edges off of me in my own life.

When things don't go as I think that they should, it's because God has a far better plan for me, that I most likely won't realize for several years.

Marriage won't always be holding hands and love letters.  Decide that you are committed to make it work, and love unconditionally, forgive quickly, and laugh together a whole lot. :)

If your spouse has a crazy idea of where he wants you to go, say yes!  Make tons of wonderful memories and go on great adventures when you can.

Accept forgiveness and restore relationships as quickly as you can.  Don't give time for bitterness to grow.

Let things get dusty in your home, spend more time playing with your kids, than trying to show that I can keep things in order.

Seek God's plan for your particular life, live your life using what gifts that God has given to you and stop beating yourself up that you can't do what others can do.

Show love and acceptance to others, even those that are difficult to be around.

As an introvert, it is OK for you to get the rest that you need.

It is OK to say "No" to things that you aren't called to do.  You don't have to feel guilty about saying no.  

Say "Yes", and serve when you are asked to do things that you are called to do.

Pray for your kids, it's the best thing that you can do for them.  Show unconditional love for each one.  Don't try to run their lives but let them know that you are there for them and can be counted on for love and support no matter what.

Call your Mom and Dad more as they age, and let them know how much you love them.

 Pray that God would give you ears to hear His voice and a heart that desires to be obedient to Him as He guides your life.

Show God's love at every opportunity.

I could go on and on.  These are the things that come to mind off the top of my head.   It was fun to think about this.  

So what's YOUR advice?

Monday, May 22, 2017

It Ain't the Letters that are Blurry!!

Our preacher this Sunday morning made a brilliant observation.  When you are sitting in that chair in the Optometrist's office, and she asks you to read the line of random letters, it ain't the letters that are blurry.

This impresses me.  We all too often think that the letters ARE indeed blurry, whereas we think our vision is perfect.  But, it ain't the letters that are blurry.

We are so quick to find fault with others.   They are too hasty, too slow, too smart, too dumb, too conservative, too liberal.

On the other hand, we are near perfect!   If EVERYONE ELSE simply saw the world like we do... with OUR clear insight, I mean sight.

But,  it ain't the letters that are blurry.

Think about it.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

When is Spring Break- not a Break? Bishop Style!

Just last week we were on my final Spring Break.  It went something like this:

Saturday- Drive to Natural Bridge, spend several hours looking around, and catching an early queen snake.  Then to lunch in a place we ate over 37 years ago.  Then to Natural Bridge Caverns for a great tour underground.
Sunday- SS, Church, dinner with neighbors.  Rest.
Monday- drive to Jamestown, VA and tour the OLDEST continuously occupied English settlement in the USA.  Then to the Yorktown Revolutionary War Battlefield.
Tues- Historic Williamsburg visit until they closed it down.
Wed.-  Half a day at the Newport News Maritime Museum, then a tour of the Yorktown Battlefield until it closed.  Then drive back to Lynchburg.
Thurs.-  Visit the Highlands, home of President James Monroe, then to Monticello, home of President Jefferson.
Fri- Visit Lexington, VA, tour home of TJ Jackson, an outstanding Christian, tour VMI Museum and then the General George C Marshall Museum.
Saturday- catch up on what we hadn't done before- fixed smoke detectors, changed furnace filters, etc.
Sunday- SS, Church, shepherding group.  Rest.

Yep, we need a BREAK from Spring Break. Thank you L^rd for rest!

Monday, May 15, 2017

Why We Need Emoticons in Scripture

I have written before about some of the missed/misunderstood humorous gags in The Bible.  I was reminded again about this after this mornings sermon.  Our preacher is a very well educated man who doubtlessly used many good, competent Commentaries in putting together the morning sermon.

His chosen text, part of a series from the Sermon on the Mount, was Matt. 5:38-48.  The final verse, 48, is one of my favorites in Scripture.  It reads, "Therefore be ye perfect, even as your father in Heaven is perfect."

Well, is seems that many well-studied commentators are perplexed by this verse.  Our pastor did verbal gymnastics to try to suggest that Jesus was telling his Jewish audience, numbering 5k men, plus women and children, that we ought to see our relationship with G^d as "whole and complete" the intended meaning of "perfect".

Whereas, the pastor, and all his commentators may WELL BE CORRECT, I have strong doubts.  The audience is listening to the GREAT Rabbi, Jesus.  He is preaching in Aramaic, recorded by Matthew in Greek.  Back a bit over 20 verses earlier, Rabbi Jesus had said, "Unless your RIGHTEOUSNESS exceeds that of the Scribes and Pharisees, you shall in no wise enter heaven."

What?  Yes, we ought to scratch our heads over both these admonitions of Exceeding the righteousness most religious people of their religion and being Perfect as is G^d.

But a simpler explanation would seem to fit the approach and philosophy of the Son of Man.  Jesus, G^d became man, is telling us that His listeners- the Jews there and us today- are in BIG trouble.

And I repeat, we, and the Jews, are in BIG Trouble.  And,- this is crucial- there is ONLY one solution for our big trouble.  And that solution is...

The RIGHTEOUSNESS of Christ himself, imputed to us by G^d's Grace and Mercy.  Yes, read this literally.  Our righteousness must be perfect- better than the MOST religious folks we know to enter into heaven.  AND, we ONLY attain this level of RIGHTEOUSNESS if it is imputed to us by the shed blood of the ONLY PERFECT sacrifice, Jesus our Savior.

We need emoticons!


Thursday, May 11, 2017

What do you know now that you wish you had known at age 20?

One of my friends recently posed this question, “What do you know now that you wish you had known at age 20?"

It’s a good question and I like it because I am guessing most everyone has a different answer.   For example I am guessing us late-60 year olds will answer differently than 21 year olds.'

Have pondered the question a bit, I am happy to report that I have very few regrets.  G^d has provided for, protected, and guided me for these ensuing 47 years.  Here are a couple of things I am still learning but didn’t fully comprehend at 20 (or 30 either):

  • 1.     Plan for the future.  I don’t mean next year, or 20 years from now, I mean plan for eternity.
  • 2.     Invest in things with long term benefits.  I got a great undergrad education at the USNA, and it has paid off ever since.  I read Scriptures daily, and that has long term benefits.
  • 3.     Learn Spiritual disciplines like Prayer, Bible Study, and Fellowship and PRACTICE,PRACTICE, PRACTICE! (See the one above).
  • 4.     Don’t sweat the small stuff, or the medium stuff, or the large stuff.  G^d is Sovereign.  When I look back now at frustrations and disappointment in the past, I can see G^d’s hand directing me and keeping me from some stuff… and NOW I’m glad He did!

So, one of my BIG disappointments is that I have made so little progress in becoming like Jesus the Christ.

Some readers might notice that most of my discussion is oriented towards spiritual issues, and not “practical” issues.  I HOPE you noted that, since I noted it too.  And that brings me to my conclusion.  In Matthew 6: 19-21 Jesus says (my paraphrase), “Stop being SO preoccupied with money and houses, and stuff.  Instead pay attention to your Spirit, to being obedient to what G^d is calling you personally to do.  Watch yourself.  Don’t focus exclusively on this life, for NONE of us is on earth very long.  From the beginning look to the eternal future.  Otherwise, the affairs of this world will totally capture your heart!”

So look ahead 40 or 50 years.  What can you do NOW that will make you happy then?  Hint, think in terms of eternity!

Monday, May 8, 2017

Danger! Danger! Danger!

I asked my undergrad class last week to whom should we attribute the quote, "Danger! Danger!  Danger!"?  they quickly identified Steve Irwin, the Australian Crocodile hunter.  I asked them about that quote because I was about to talk about using the WWW to do research on devising new measurements.

The WWW is a boon to information.  The WWW is a bane of information.  The WWW makes tons of info available, and tons of MISinformation available.  The problem is that is very challenging to know the difference between the two!!

Some of the information on the WWW is about my own field of study, exercise physiology.  Let me assure you, the ratio of good information to bad information may be <1.0, which is to say, there may be more bad info than good on the web.

I speak only for my area of expertise, but the bad thing about the MISinformation is that it usually has a grain of truth from which a misconception, misunderstanding, or deception arose.  One of my favorite WWW red herrings is one titled, "Your Cardio Routine is making you fat."

Don't believe me, go to: http://health.yahoo.net/experts/yahoo-spotlight/why-your-cardio-routine-making-you-fat   and check it out.


It was written by best-selling author, Jim K.  It is mostly baloney, but there is a shred of truth on which it is based.  The truth is:
  1. We tend to lose muscle mass with aging, for a few reasons, but it does happen,
  2. Our total muscle mass chiefly determines our resting metabolic rate, and,
  3. Our resting metabolic rate accounts for the majority of calories we burn in a day for most of us, even if we exercise pretty hard.

So far his logic is sound.  BUT, then he jumps to the conclusion that lifting weights will cause all of us to add enough muscle to cause us all to go into a net negative caloric balance every day.  His start was sound, his leap to his bias caused his downfall.

What he failed to recognize was:
  • Not very many people can add substantial amounts of muscle mass without the use of illegal drugs
  • He ignores that it is much easier to burn a substantial number of calories in cardio compared to weight lifting
  • Most real working people are extremely limited in the time available to work out.
  • Cardiovascular disease is the #1, or #2 killer of Americans, and weight lifting doesn't help this very much.

But, if you die of a heart attack whilst lifting weights, hey, your weight loss problem is instantly resolved.

Just think, if he were correct, wouldn't the majority of weight lifters be slim and trim?  (Don't confuse weight lifters with body builders who starve themselves for contests.)

Don't get me wrong, I am a strong proponent of lifting weights, but for most Americans, I am a stronger proponent of cardiovascular exercise.  I am the strongest proponent of doing something to be physically active!!

I am not going to start blogging on exercise and weight loss; hopefully we have a book coming out in a year or so that will do that.  Instead I am warning you that it is NOT just the whack articles that are whacko.  Even articles by "best-selling authors" can lead you astray.  In fact, a key way to gain readership is to simply go against what the conventional bona fide experts recommend and propose some elaborate conspiracy theory.

So the question we ALL need to ask ourselves is, "I read this on the WWW.  What are the chances it is true?"

The chances are lower than we think... and you just read that on the WWW.


Thursday, May 4, 2017

Civil Disobedience!! In the Bible no Less

In Sunday School we were discussing 1 Peter and in chapter 2 we hit upon that classic issue (also in Romans 13) or submitting to governmental authorities.  Keep in mind that Peter wrote this epistle from PRISON, whilst Nero was emperor of Rome.  Yes, that Nero.

Paul writes of Nero's government,
"13 Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether to a king as the one in authority, 14 or to governors as sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and the praise of those who do right. 15 For such is the will of God that by doing right you may silence the ignorance of foolish men."

Yes, but Nero?  You gotta be kidding!

Well the mere mention of this in Sunday School and a hand goes up.  But should Christians NOT speak out against moral wrongs?

Good question.  We would clearly encourage Iraqi Christians NOT to recant their faith and thus cooperate with ISIS "authorities".

Acts 5 comes to mind immediately, doesn't it?  Peter and John are thrown into jail.  An earthquake frees them, and they go back to what got them thrown into jail.

"The high priest questioned them, 28 saying, “We gave you strict orders not to continue teaching in this name, and yet, you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and intend to bring this man’s blood upon us.” 29 But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men."

Or maybe you thought of Daniel 6. "Now, O king, establish the injunction and sign the document so that it may not be changed, according to the law of the Medes and Persians, which [g]may not be revoked.” Therefore King Darius signed the document, that is, the injunction.
10 Now when Daniel knew that the document was signed, he entered his house (now in his roof chamber he had windows open toward Jerusalem); and he continued kneeling on his knees three times a day, praying and giving thanks before his God, [h]as he had been doing previously."

Here are two clear instances of NOT obeying authorities!  What's up with that?

Look back at Acts 5:19-20

" But during the night an angel of the Lord opened the gates of the prison, and taking them out he said, 20 “Go, stand and speak to the people in the temple the whole message of this Life.”  

Aha, a direct command of G^d trumps everything else.  Scripture lays out clear GENERAL behavior, but as Jesus himself noted to the Pharisees, there are plenty of exceptions to General commands.  In Matt 12, Jesus mentions the exception to Sabbath "rules".

 It would seem the key issue is the state of our heart.  We sin in disobedience to G^d's word, and we sometimes obey in disobedience to G^d's general commands.  

But where is our heart?  Are we following the L^rd or kidding ourselves.  Who are we serving?

Answering those questions sincerely seems to clear up the matter.

Oh well.







 

Monday, May 1, 2017

Some Mighty Nice Folk- I just found this one!

Back in 2014 I made a trip to the Left coast and wrote up this blog post, which inexplicably never got published.  I want to correct that mistake... so here's a BLAST from the PAST.

Out on the NW coast of the USA are several friends of mine.  I want you to know of them.  I had the opportunity to visit with two of my former Ph.D. students where they teach at CWU, Ellensburg, WA.  I spoke to some of their students and colleagues.
 Above are Kelly, Rob, Liam and Luke.  They live in a beautiful home that I will show you later.  They were super hospitable, housing me, feeding me, and making sure I got where I had to be.
These are the folks who invited me out initially.  This is Mark, Kathi, and Claire. Mark is an Aussie who came to the University of Oregon, met Kathy and the rest is history. He has been at CWU for 7 years and travels the world as a professor.


This is Ken and Diane. Ken is a highly committed Christian and a long-time faculty member.  They are exceedingly warm and welcoming.

There are many more characters in this story. The punch line of this story is the great number of wonderful people inhabiting this earth. These are some top ones, and they happen to live in the opposite corner of the USA, but the world has many more.

And that raises, in part, the Problem of Pleasure. If the anti-Christians are right, why are there so many good things in the world? Why is there pleasure and friendship instead of pain and competition only? Why are there so many people, like these above, who are hospitable, kind, serving, selfless?  Why is the world often a beautiful, pleasant, joyous place?  My evolutionists friends will guess that these have "survival value", but no more than the sad and painful things, so why would this explain the atheist's views?

Regardless of one's philosophy, there are some mighty nice people in this world.  Thanks be to G^d!

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Revisiting History

Brenda and I love history.  When we lived up in Maryland (Annapolis and Lexington Park) and in VA (in Lexington, and now in Lynchburg) we loved to visit the many historic sites in these areas:
Williamsburg
Jamestown
Mt. Vernon
Gettysburg Battlefield
Mechanicsburg Battlefield
Monticello
and lots of others...

Spring Break gave us a chance to re-visit some of those. It was quite different this time around.  First, we are a LOT older now.  Second, it was cold.  Third, it was a LOT more expensive.  We saw a lot, but this time from a perspective of older age and MUCH more experience.

We thoroughly enjoyed seeing the sights, but MORE, we enjoyed talking to experts.  We talked to experts in military tactics, in seamanship, in history, in 18th century pharmaceutics, in antique furniture, in converting chocolate beans into chocolate in colonial days.

We enjoy learning, and that hasn't changed.  We love talking to folks who are absolute, indisputable experts on these obscure skills and operations, and that hasn't changed.

We love seeing the kinship we share with Christians of old- those early Christian immigrants, colonists, Gen TJ Jackson, and many others.

So, Thomas Wolfe was wrong, Looks like "You CAN go Home Again".

And it was FUN!!  Here's a few picts but there are LOTS more!!


Monday, April 24, 2017

What My Friend Said

I remember from 10 or so years ago, that it was a hot summer day at the OUTDOOR Rec. pool at UA, and I ran into one of my favorite (yes it could be YOU!) former students there.

The lady, my former student shared with me privately that her marriage was in extremis. 

I replied to her, "So sorry to hear.  I will pray for you." 

And she replied, "Pray for _(her ex's name)____."
I thought the following things (regardless of their accuracy):
1) How sweet- she is thinking of his well-being even in the midst of divorce.
2) How sweet- she is thinking of someone OTHER than herself, when self-focus in the norm.
3) How spiritual that she is able to keep her cool and ask for prayer for her ex.

I shared all this recently with her, saying, "Don't correct me if I am wrong.   I really admire that you said it.  That's good enough."



Her response to me was just as good as the original, "I still pray for him to this day.  We all need prayers in spite of our attitudes and how we treat others. If God can ever get to him it will be better for us all."

We ALL need more friends like this.  

L^rd I lift up my friend... and her former husband.  Thanks for her grace. I have a new hope for mankind... in Christ.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Nice to meet you Carmen!


I was recently speaking at a professional meeting about traveling, teaching, and researching abroad.  After the talk several people wanted to chat, but one young lady caught my attention.  She was interested in going abroad…as a missionary!

Now we are talking about something significant!

She taught at a University close to where Brenda and I live, and her folks lived even closer.  So, during her Spring Break, Brenda and I drove an hour down to see her.  We had a terrific conversation that covered:
1)      Why Professors can be Effective for Christ in the Public University.
2)      How Profs can reach Internationals without leaving the US campus.
3)      How US Profs are welcome most (but not all) places in the world, short- or long- time.
4)      How you can go abroad for a secular purpose and still have a spiritual impact.
5)      How she could have an impact on her students right now!

We prayed with her near the beginning and at the end.  And, before we knew it 4 hours had passed!

Go Figure!  Is Faculty Commons of Cru (Campus Crusade) a great ministry or what??

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Honors for Simon of Cyrene

On the Saturday before Easter, Brenda and I cut through the woods behind our house to reach a wooded trail behind Neil Leitch's house.  Neil maintains a fairly long trail and at Easter he sets up 14 stations to take the walkers through major events of the crucifixion.  It was a beautiful day and a holy experience.

One station particularly struck me, the one about Simon of Cyrene.  There were readings for each of the stations and this one was the shortest. Simon is now famous as the one who carried Jesus' cross as he struggled towards Golgotha.

I have never given much thought to Simon, though my first sermon about 25 years ago was relevant. Part of the text was from Matt 11: "28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

Do you think that cross was light for Simon?

How about this more familiar Scripture from Matt 16, "24 Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 25 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it."

Well, Simon was honored by G^d for whatever reason.  Simon had the opportunity to CONTRIBUTE to the SALVATION of the whole world through simply carrying the cross that was presented.  Can we do the same?

How?

G^d calls us to serve.  G^d gives us opportunities to serve, maybe not in the same manner as Simon the Hero, but opportunities that we can take up our cross, and that yoke is easy and that burden is light.

So, what are we waiting on?