Wednesday, November 26, 2008


An hour ago I was sitting in a little restaurant grabbing lunch and writing this note about thanksgiving.

I realized afresh that Thanksgiving is 1)a focus and 2)a choice with 3)clear consequence.

A focus:
Because it seems a person can always find a reason to complain and not give thanks. For instance - the weather: I love the sunny days in Colorado (300 to be exact) - BUT I do not love the water shortages that can come if we don't get rainy days. So what will my focus be - the sun or the dryness?

I am thankful for the wisdom that comes with aging....but I am not thankful for aging - understand? :) So what focus shall I choose today?...wisdom or wrinkles?

The person with negative focus is what I call the "yes, but" type.
We may say, "What a neat time we are having" and they say, "yes, but" it is going to be too late when we get home. We say, "wow you are looking great today" and they say, "yes, but" you should have seen me yesterday.
And on it can go.
Thanksgiving is truly a matter of focus.

And, being thankful is most often a choice.

Reality is - all of us probably can see the pros and cons about anything.
There is an up side and a down side to most aspects of life on this side.

(That's one of the wonders of heaven to come...only an up side. Is that why the Psalmist wrote "I will enter His gates with thanksgiving in my heart? - just gettin' ready for heaven?)

So as your friend, I am encouraging you to take the up focus and make the right choice - ah, there you have it - Thanksgiving.

And when you practice choosing thanksgiving, a lot of graces come with it - joy, love, peace, faith and much more.

So, this Thanksgiving - make the choice, keep the up focus, and reap the rewards of a real Thanksgiving.

Happy Thanksgiving!


Thursday, November 20, 2008



It sits on my bookshelf as I write this blog.

A scorpion....tail drawn up and forward....tallons held ready.

But it brings, not fear, but an important reminder.

It is made out of thin copper wire wound creatively.
It is only 2 inches long....but it is clearly a scorpion.

It comes from Mexico...made by persons who make a living doing so.

They salvage the copper wire from throw-away piles, and skillfully spin the wire into scorpions and other little creatures.

A very modest living ensues.
But far better than otherwise.
And they are meaningfully occupied.

I think of the resourcefulness of the man who thought of this and got people doing it. A man God has called to be there and help a lot of people every way he can.

And beyond him, I think of the God Who prompts people all the time to really "bloom where you are planted." To "consider the lillies" and open a floral shop. To consider the ravens and worry just a bit less about provision off into the future. (See Luke 12)

In these uncertain times, I sense that staying close to God (and one another) should be our first line of response. His provision and the unlimited wealth of His ideas and creativity will see us through any times that we face.

It's an important message for today - from a little copper scorpion.

God, we join our hearts together today, to ask You to meet with us as we draw near to You . May our eyes be opened to Your presence and to the creative flow of your life. And, in these turbulent times, may we love those around us in tangible ways.
Thank You again for Jesus.
It is because of Him that we know we can speak these things to You.



Tuesday, November 18, 2008


November 18, 2008


For a very long time in my life, I took the great prayer that Jesus gave us all to pray with frequency and turned it the wrong way relative to what it is really directing.

Here is the prayer Jesus told us to pray:
Our Father in heaven,
Hallowed be your name,
Your kingdom come,
Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation, but delilver us from the evil one.

Somehow, because the prayer begins in "heaven" and repeats "heaven," and because I understood "kingdom" to mean heaven as well, and for whatever other reasons, I ended up attaching a future sense to the whole prayer...and not expecting anything in the now. It was (hopefully) going to all work out later.

And then along came an opportunity to understand "kingdom" more accurately.

Matthew's gospel uses "kingdom" over 50 times. Read the whole book with this blog in mind for a mind-popping trip into truth.

Someone pointed out to me that a kingdom is basically where the king is ruling. It is where his/or her (congratulations to Queen Elizabeth on her very long reign) kingly authority is supreme and where the will of the sovreign carries. King-domain - the sphere of the king's rule.

So I learned that when I was praying "your kingdom come" I was basically saying, "God, bring your rule, your presence, your will to pass right here and right now." And from there I began to see the rest of the prayer differently - like "hallowed be your name" is actually placing active worship at the start of the the prayer for "daily bread" is actually a request for food supply....and "forgive us our debts" hinges on our prior "as we also have forgiven."

Rather than a formal prayer to be prayed in "church" expressing hope in eternal bliss, I came to see it as a prayer for today inviting the presence and rule of God into every area of our lives.

Come, Oh King....and rule in us today!



For extra credit - try praying the prayer (like it really means) each day for a week and journal what happens. Let me know.

Thursday, November 13, 2008


Thursday November 13


Ever find yourself getting a little bored with "Jesus?"

A bit too ho hum?...too familiar?...too predictable?

Stories a bit worn out? when you used to sit on someone's lap and it's the same story book, over and over, until you find your lips moving with the words?

Knowing the big pieces of His life so well...missing the details?..and the excitement?

As someone, commenting on their reading of the Bible that day said to a friend - "I feel like I've just been bored again." (Get it? :))

Well don't switch books....just learn to read The Book...really read Jesus. That's in the Bible in Matthew, Mark, Luke and John...and His fingerprints are all over most of the others books too..

Even if on some days you find your self a little low on Jesus with this mindset:

1. This is the story of God showing up in human form.

2. Look at the culture, the people, the events well, because it is all of God's choosing. (What if He had chosen to come to America in 2006?)

3. God is on a mission here in Jesus to change the planet and He does. Watch the big picture unfold through the details.

4. There are four accounts of Jesus' life because it is just that important. Everything counts.

5. Jesus was single, from a single-parent family, with 4 or more siblings of which He was the oldest. His earthly father was a carpenter, died young and passed his trade on to Jesus. For most of His life, Jesus cut, hauled, planed, carved and made things out of wood....possibly into house building and roofing.
He was strong, disciplined, and real to the core...and a lot of fun to be around.

6. Jesus was Jewish, and that is why the Bible is so large. The first part of the Bible is Jewish and everything in it relates to the big story about Jesus. (But wait till later to get into that.) Get the first and biggest part of the story down well at the start. It will serve to help you fit the rest of it all together.

7. The reality about Jesus is this: and this is not a faith deal - in about two years, having left the carpentry business, He taught lots of people, trained a few, and walked out a very early finish to His life here in order to provide a way for people to come to God without fear and to begin to experience His changing of everything about them.

And the plan worked.

As I write this blog today, millions of people are speaking His name, reading Jesus, and experiencing His presence in their lives. This is going on on every continent and population center. Centers of learning bear His name. Hospitals and benevolent organizations center in His teachings. Even swearers get rid of frustration speaking His name (not a wise thing to do, incidentally). Millions of crosses are on rings and around necks.
.....Jesus' influence and effectiveness is very much present all around us.

There is no person in history who comes even close to matching His life, teachings and impact.

Jesus is in a realm by Himself. He is unique and only. He stands alone.

So as you read, keep this in focus....go beyond the big parts of the story....go for the details and the context....think, think, think.
And pray
...for as you read about Him, He'll be peering over your shoulder and entering your life.

That's another God thing about Him. He loves you.



Monday, November 10, 2008

STARK blunt harsh severe grim

Lots of the Old Testament (the first major book division in the Bible) is stark.

Just today I read I Samuel - yes all lof it - with a black pencil in hand.

Black is the color of stark.

So, in the margins as I read, I placed a lot of black circles - colored in. Stark reminders of what I had just read - stuff like killings, and deaths, and wars.

Early on I knew I was "going to be in trouble." I read - "The Lord brings death and makes alive; he brings down to the grave and raises up....He humbles and he exalts....He will guard the feet of His saints, but the wicked will be silenced in darkness." Chapter 2 verses 6-9.

And very soon I was reading about David - a man sought out by the Lord very clearly, a man "after God's own heart." 13:14; 16:1,12,13

David is a warrior even while very young. This is made plain so tellingly in chapter 17 in his epoch battle against a giant (from a family of giants) named Goliath. (You just gotta read the whole chapter.)

What is amazing - and stark - is that David kills Goliath by planting a stone in the giant's head with his sling shot and then with the giant face down on the ground, he cuts Goliath's head off publicly - and then carries it around in his hand, even to the time that he is brought before the King in Jerusalem.

This defines stark.

Actions taken by a "man after God's own heart."

There are 31 chapters in I Samuel.

There are now 29 black circles in the margins of my copy of I Samuel.

David and us have a lot in common.

We all have lived and are living now in what the Bible calls "this present evil age."

"Present evil age?" It is called that for very good reason. Wars are everywhere.

And wars are always very has always been that way.

War forms an apex of human stuggle of good and evil. It is like a giant complex wrestling match - sometimes with thousands of people "on the mat" all at the same time.

The distressing images of suffering are all over the world now....and they have always been.

And as we consider this today, so many are in far-flung places making a difference - like David of old. Like our son Micah in Afghanistan and his buddies at Kalagush. So, yes, as a Dad, I am thinking this way, a lot more than I have ever before.

So...on the eve of Veterans Day - I salute those who are serving, and those who have served. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Most of us will never know what you are going through hour by hour......but God does.

And as you deal now (or in memory) with the images of suffering and horror - may you find the grace to be strong, the tenderness to cry at the loss, and the resolve to stand against evil until the last battle is fought.

And in the hardest, lonliest terrible places, may you find God in fresh dimensions...

Who knows where you are and what you are about, and Whose Book is marked all over with black circles where those who have gone before have done it just like you are.

Who has already secured a final victory we can all share together, with Christ.

It's already there in the back of The Book
- Christ, The One Who is faithful and true, the King of Kings and Lord of all Lords.
(See Revelation 19)

Christ, riding on the white horse (I think that was the first century's F-16 - :))



Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Post election day thoughts

November 5, 2008

Well, its over.

Like so many, we too watched a bunch of the election results, the concession speech and the victory speech.

It was truly an extraordinary night.

Loved the "kids you get a new puppy" Obama line...and the open real affection that Mom and Dad shared.

Admired greatly the "I am responsible" and words of humble and wise counsel - from McCain.

Was deeply moved by the great camera work showing tears and jumps and hugs and looks of wonder on the faces of people...and the sense among the young that "I too can really reach for the stars." It truly was history in the making.

Wowed by the size of the crowds and record turnout at the polls - some stood in line for 4-5 hours?! People came to the final rallies half a day or more early.

Loved the every-generational people who got involved in the whole process.

Endured the endless - must keep talking - commentators.

And finally was grateful the two year process was over.

Wondered how the Obamas slept last night....if at all.

Wondered if McCain wept - or was he silently relieved.

Did Obama panic just a bit within himself when the lights were turned out?

Did anyone worry that some crazy person would try to take him out? I did - and noticed the huge almost-invisible plexiglass screens "walling" off the podium.

What a moving night...what a great acceptance speech. Obama on platform is truly one of the most dynamic, sensitive to crowd ever.

And will he do as President.

"When the music stops and all is stripped away" will he do.

The Bible calls us clearly at this hour as a people who respond to His call:

"The first thing I want you to do is pray.

Pray every way you know how, for everyone you know.

Pray especially for rulers and their governments to rule well

so we can be quietly about our business of living simply, in humble contemplation.

This is the way our Savior God wants us to live." (I Timothy 2:1f)

So be you Republican or Democrat...or Independent (did you see the number of them in this voting process!)...the call to us all is to pray. There are grave challenges that face our nation and the world. Join me in seeking to pray on a regular basis for our leaders.

They need God's wisdom.

And we need them to lead well.

And it all fires up in prayer.


Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Election Day Thanks

November 4, 2008

It's Election Day.

New records for voter turnout likely to be set.

Presidential candidates stumping various states and then heading home.
...both to announced victory gatherings.

News coverage will run for eternity...with speculation, charts, polls, and pundits.

The winner seems forcast already, but who really knows?

Stories of intrigue and stories of heroism.
Joe the Plumber and Palin the Perky Alaskan.
Yard signs, TV spots, blog infinitum.

Jackie and I voted a few days ago.
Back of a JCPenny-dominated mall.
Went early thinking, we'd avoid a lineup.
The line snaked back and forth for a very long distance. Heard that "yesterday it went to the escalator and down! :)" Now that's a line up - get it?!

It was an orderly proceedure.
People craming at the last minute for details - through a long and complex voter guide.

And as we drove away we remarked at how blessed we are to be able to live in this land, with its due process - pretty exciting at that. And its order and unity.

And we thought of the troops at FOB Kalagush that read this blog and the deep debt that we owe them for what they are doing right now, to make this process possible.

So on this pivotal election day - special thanks to all those who serve. We esteem you and appreciate you greatly!

May the day go peacefully and well.

May the outcome be followed by unity and strength.

May we all continue to believe in this land and be thankful for it.

And may we continue no matter what, to look to God to bless America.

Yes, yes, yes.