Saturday, April 30, 2011


"Go wash your hands before you eat."

..words often heard around our house when the grandkids are present. (and occasionally at other times too :)

And I think of Jesus' day...
no sinks, no showers, no bathtubs
no running water...unless it was you running
no bar soap, or quick spurt liquid cleansers
no hot water heaters, no water purifying systems
no toothpaste or brushes, no mirrors or convenience items, no paper products.

Must have been pretty rustic, this following Jesus.

And there were vermin a-plenty. Bugs, and mice, and creepy-crawlies. And no tight-fitting doors, or self-cleaning ovens, or refrigerators, or regular preservative actions.

Rustic indeed.

I would have thought any washing was just plain smart. Like: letting water be poured out of a pitcher and over your elevated hands and letting it run off your elbows. At special times this was how it was done. At least that was a start.

Jesus faced an accusation: "Why do your disciples not wash their hands when they eat?" (Matthew 15:2)

Jesus answered the concern in a few ways:
#1 - What is in inside you - the heart - is overwhelmingly more important than what is on the hands.
#2 - What comes from the heart has the power to "defile" you entirely. Stuff like "evil thoughts, immorality, slander." These things corrupt the whole person - Matthew 15:19
#3 - What goes into the mouth all gets "expelled" through natural processes.
#4 - Make the major focus of your energies the inside track.

So, children have a little bit of Jesus' backing in not being focused on washing hands...of course I'd never make this a focus of "Grampy time." :)

But for all of us, there is a helpful instruction: let the washing of our hands (a great priviledge indeed) become at times a Spirit tweak about a scrub job needed inside.

Ah, there is squeaky clean indeed.

Thursday, April 28, 2011


A few hours ago the news of David Wilkerson's horrible car accident in Texas broke into our worlds.

I remember years ago, hearing him at a rally and being pierced through with his callenging words of commitment and then his words of the amazing grace of God being manifested on the streets of New York. He was truly a man possessed by the Spirit of Christ...a prophet, a great ambassador of the gospel. His books an articles have left telling impact on my life.

The scripture that came to me pointedly in these hours was of the sudden departure of Elijah into the heavens:
it too was by a stream of water,
it too involved a vehicle of transport, in this case a chariot of fire,
it too was marked by the divine intervention and timing of God.

And may a fourth parallel come about..the fresh outpouring of the Spirit of God on others. (Read it all in II Kings 2)

May we all be praying that the family know God's voice and presence in these hours.

And may a fresh outpouring of God's Spirit fall on many.

Sunday, April 24, 2011


I believe in the resurrection.

Not the rescuscitation, as though by some quirk Jesus had miraculously recovered from crucifixion. Not in the memorialization that makes Him "alive" still to so many.

But I believe that He fully died, became lifeless and that the penalty for sin, by the death of The Innocent was fully paid by Jesus at first Easter. And that that action of Christ covered all time prior and after His death.

It covers us today as we believe and give our lives to Him today.

I believe that the Father God sent life back into the body of His broken Son and transformed that body into a new model...a resurrected one, and the prototype of all whom God will raise from either this life, or their place of death into His presence forever. We shall be like Jesus raised from the dead.

I believe in the resurrection for a lot of reasons.

Here is a partial list written down from looking at the texts written about this event in ancient times.

Here are reasons for my faith today:

1. The texts of record about this even...various authors, various texts all saying the same thing. And those texts overwhelming preserved (1500 or more manuscrips or parts of) and maintained so that we can have absolute confidence in their reliability. They all say over and over, He is alive.

2. The stone was rolled away...uphill, by angelic power, the angels lingered long at the site of His rising. No poof and gone. No. Sitting on the burial at the head and one at where His feet had been. What detail! What care! And the angels were seen by multiple witnesses.

3. was women, contrary to normal witness proceedures of the time, that are the first reporters at the tomb, and the announcers to His followers of resurrection reality. If this was all a hoax, don't throw women in as witnesses into the mix. And this amazing detail signals the rising up of women that continues to this day, in its own way a unique evidence of His resurrection.

4. Running...the first witnesses went running. No "oooh ahing" - not swooning - "running" to tell others. So excited. So in control of all faculties. So having to share the news. So reliable, so wonderful.

5. Touching...holding his feet, putting fingers to the miraculously healed wounds in his side and hands, eating with him, walking with him, listening to him at length. He was not appearing for a final under-the-lights moment...but he appears "over many days" - 40 to be precise - to give absolute assurance to all that He is not a vapor, a wishful projection...but an actual, substantive Lord.

6. Burning hearts...out in the country on a long walk with Him, disciples (always seemingly multiple on-site witnesses) - before they even comprehend what He is saying to them, develop an interior fire in His presence. Now there is a resurrection evidence that you and I can test today.

7. Many more evidences could be listed...but I'll end with this: almost all of those who bore first witness to His resurrection, died as martys rather than turn from their confession of faith in this. If it had somehow been trumped up, would a deceptive lie have been worth all their lives?

I believe in the resurrection.

Happy, happy, happy Easter!

He IS alive!

Saturday, April 23, 2011


We live in a most privileged time.

We live through another Easter season, knowing the outcome before it ever begins.

So, we tend to focus on the positive, the yet to come rising....the resurrection of Jesus, rather than the cross. Relatively few gatherings to focus on Christ's death, but extra services in larger spaces to accomodate the people coming to enter into the celebration of Jesus' "great gettin' up morning."

So many eager people, focused on the rising, that many were wishing each other a happy easter on Friday. Bonnets, eggs, dresses, food, flowers....reaching for just one more way to celebrate and fill the air with joy.

Now, this is not an idea offered with a wagging index finger, but a gentle call to all of us to a more balanced heart.

Fact is, God has made us to get excited about and enjoy these earthly times of joy. We are made to party hardy.

Jesus had that same makeup..."who for the joy set before Him, endured the cross."

But, it strikes me that, though He already knew He would rise - and had promised that to his disciples - it was the joy of being in the presence of His Father forever, heaven itself that propelled him with courageous, unflinching steps - forward into the worst moments ever endured.

It can be that way for us too...

So this Easter...embrace the cross, enthuse over His resurrection and all that it guarantees, and keep looking forward to that forever celebration, in the presence of our Father, where all will be gathered, and the dinner will be...well, beyond anything yet...
...and the music, and galactic fireworks, and angelic processions...of that time will be the exclamation mark to the very long statement God has been making.

Let the anticipation of it all move you forward today.

Happy, happy, happy easter!

Friday, April 22, 2011


I write this blog on Friday, at noon - 12:36 to be precise.

This day gives us one of the opportunities we have to see the Bible on a clock...a precise time recorded by Matthew, Mark and Luke. "And when the sixth hour (our noontime) was come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour."

In the darkness, Jesus is hanging, crucified, darkness on the cross. After three hours the heart-stopping silence would be broken with His cry - in a loud voice - "Eloi, Eloi, lama sabach-thani?" which is, "My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?"

And the darkness must have grown darker still.

Physical horror is now blackened by human anguish.

This is the last energy of One almost dead...Why...?

From a throat graveled by thirst. From a strong body, now gasping for any life.

This, from the Lord and giver of Life!

Scrambled on a cross, our sins emptied upon Him, and having experiencing hours of the most excruciating form of pain ever known.

He is writing this in bold: death often must come before life. It is a pivotal Kingdom truth-reversal.

It is what is "sown into the ground" that springs up.

Death is a that transforming life can be an expectation.

So, once again today, we enter into the Easter weekend.

The celebrations of Sunday will electrify the globe.

But may they be authenticated in us by the heart-transforming realities of His death.

Darkness...then light.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011


We traveled a lot on I-80 in the last few days...the length of Nebraska. Saw the Spring game of the Cornhuskers, (they won! :)) some wonderful friends, great family times, Val's pizza and Runzas and more. A splendid few days!

Traveling I-80 brought back memories, for it was main street for me for four years in the early 70's. I remembered one night, when I was driving late and was very weary from teaching and interacting with collegians, yet so wanting to make it home. I became so weary that I sensed I was becoming dangerous.

Then the idea hit me, to "see how fast this car will go."

I was driving a 1971 Chevelle Super Sport, 396 horsepower, dual mags. Translated for the more stable who are reading this: a light bodied car, housing a ferocious engine. Built to go very fast.

I waited for the road to become very clear. I was going 75. Suddenly I "floored" it just to see what would happen. It "hung up" for a few seconds and began screaming, and then pushed me back in my seat as it jumped to the next level...the fastest I have ever driven.


I was wide awake from that moment until I got home.

Power...the promise to all of us is this: "You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you and you will be My witnesses." Acts 1:8

Like my driving that night, we easily get into the habit of living sleepily, and never discovering the incredible power that sits under our "hoods."

By analogy, my encouragement is: "floor it" - live at least part of your days at full throttle. Attempt the "impossible." Stir yourself. When the Spirit nudges you, make the "yes" response that honestly will take His power to accomplish. Lay hands on the sick. Cast out demons. Stand up and share your faith. Commit to the incredible.

What will happen next will surprise you,
'cause there are moments when only power will get you home.

Friday, April 15, 2011


Everything about him was impressive. The right clothing and hairstyle. Strong words when he taught, about things many would never fully understand. His pedgree was good - from a solid school, well respected. His wife seemed to match him in the above. And they were planting a church. Zeal and intensity always apparent in them.

But all was not well. The inside stuff was pressing towards bankruptcy...marriage was hanging by a thread. Church was going nowhere. His own moral life was in rapid decay.

Some of us sensed something was not right...and hesitated for a long time to confront him, because we just weren't sure. Seemed hard to get a hold of...yet the impression remained. Something was wrong.

When finally confronted, he broke down and was gone. And we began the process of rebuilding what he had so deeply marred.

Reading Matthew 7:15-20 this morning and was struck by the outline of the event I lived through so matching Jesus' words...sheep's clothing, Lord,Lord, prophesying, casting out demons...and yet living at a distance from Jesus. "I never knew you" is what Jesus pronounces over this person. Kind of makes it that church growth, slick sermons, and lights and bells might just not signify very much.

The mark of a life close to Jesus is the personal cultivation of good Jesus reference to grapes and figs. And with both you've got to get really close to the plant to see it and witness the health of it. Big church...bad marriage? Something is wrong. Great oration...short temper? Something is wrong. Great depth relationships? Something is wrong.

May God give us His gentle but piercing wisdom.

This ancient word from our Lord is timely today.

Thursday, April 14, 2011


Two scenes:

In the first, I am living generations ago, and the quietness is rather intense. News travels by train, and by the time it arrives and is generated into distributable means, it is often weeks old. Not many pictures or sense of reality. Not much responsibility...for not much news.

In the second, I sit down at the table and turn on the TV. I am immediately projected into the Japanese countryside, to the horrific reality of perhaps thousands of people killed, radioactive leakage, missing persons, political awkwardness. Potential impact on the west coast. And while this is streaming at me - varied voices, hundreds of images, live interviews - several other streams of information are going simultaneously across the screen.

I feel waves of sadness, and the food just doesn't taste as good.

Am I responsible...and how?

I finally go to my study and scribble down some principles:
1. I am responsible for what God speaks to me about. The conviction of His Spirit, not just the information streamed at me, should be my measure. And I should pray and listen. When I see something that stirs me, I should make that a matter of prayer and potential action.

2. I should get in the habit of doing something about some things, and not in the habit of doing nothing about everything. There is not enough at my disposal to change the world, but there is enough at my disposal to change the lives of many.

3. I am especially responsible to my Family...natural, community, faith.

4. I am called to be a steward - to give thanks for His provision, and to make sure that it is managed in ways that bless others...avoiding gluttony, lavishness etc.

response to the prompts of God's Spirit as I am able.

Saturday, April 9, 2011


Q. Ever see a counterfeit $20?
A. Yes.
Q. Why was it counterfeited?
A. Because it was worth counterfeiting.
Q. Ever see a newspaper counterfeited?
A. No.
Q. Why?
A. Because it was not worth counterfeiting.
Q. Did you ever see a counterfeit Christian?
A. Yes...perhaps, quite a few.
Q. Why?
Think the same logic applies?


May we be the real kind, the kind worth counterfeiting.
And may our encounters with counterfeit only strengthen our faith.

For real...with you.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011


Love watching birds. They will stop me in my tracks to just watch.

Saw a hawk in hunting yesterday...cruising the breeze, head bent down, and suddenly a swoop. Mouseburger time.

The hovering of a kestrel (smallish, multicolored hawk) is wonderful. Goes into a two-planed rapid-winged formation which causes him to stop midair and turn his eyes upon movement in the ground. It is a beautiful blurr and if you keep your eyes open, you will see it during these days. Lots of kestrels and hawks around for the ones who watch.

And every time we see one of these birds, it may become just another way that God nudges us, reminding us of His care for us.

"Like birds hovering, so the Lord of hosts will protect Jerusalem - (by extension, this includes us);
He will protect and deliver (us);
He will spare and rescue (us)." (Isaiah 31:5)

Need some protection? Strong deliverance? An outright rescue?

Keep your eyes open...and keep your trust built strong. God delights in communicating..and is a Master at varied revelation.

Birds: it just might be the Lord's way of signaling His awareness to you.

So, just a little reminding to all of us that our Leader said:
"Look at the birds. Consider the lillies. Interpret the skies."

We are safe..
..cared for by a God who hovers.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011


Streamlining....gets rid of excess, cuts off the weights, the stuff that encumbers. Streamlining makes for easier movement on the journey...makes living more efficient and simple. It is one important aspect of living in the future will of God right now. Streamlining allows us to say "yes" to His will more readily and move in quicker obedience.

So I had this file system...all 14 or so drawers of it...over 600 hundred categories for filing the mountains of things I collected during 50 years - notes, articles, ideas, pages from magazines, old sermons, clippings, wedding ceremonies, funerals, church memos and practices. Mountains of stuff.

When we moved to Colorado, all of it came with us in a big mound of boxes. And now, one by one, the boxes are being opened and each file is being quickly perused and dealt with. About 80% of each file goes into a big two wheeled container that gets picked up every Friday morning. Stuff not likely to be of value. Stuff to let go of. Ouch. The remaining items get put in a now very small file, labeled well, for use with mentees, writing, and consulting with Pastors.

A few things I am learning in this, rather painful process:
1. To everything there is a's part of the healthy cycle of life to let things go.
2. Reviewing even quickly all the items really is a way of remembering and giving thanks. Glad I didn't just pitch everything.
3. The seasons in the church are interesting...trends come and, charismatic renewal, focus on prophecy.
4. What seems of value still,is stuff generated and put to use in the church. Things of core value, discipling processes, maturity processes, operational wisdom.
5. Life goes by pretty quickly. The ride will be a bit easier if you eschew pride and stay humble, if you work on staying nimble, and if you put forth faithful and daily effort to fulfill the role that God has given you with excellence.

"...only what's done for Christ will last."

Travel sleek, my friend. Streamline.