Just Chillin’

I have decided I need to take a day just chillin’. A few months ago I was feeling old, burned out and, well, retired. With much encouragement, like my Pastor reminding me that Moses was 80 when he stood before the burning bush, I have decided that life isn’t exactly over. These days I am so busy that I forgot that today was my first grandchild’s birthday. That is unacceptable. She’s my original grandchild that I spent fun days with and she’s about to give birth to my second great grand. I can’t be forgetting her birthday. I need to step back. Yesterday I spent the day in Baton Rouge for work. Tomorrow I have a day filled with depositions and meetings. But today I’m just chillin.

Here’s my plan. So far I have written two articles for the September issue of Covenant Spotlight. I am writing this blog. Then I’m going to take my morning swim, check my mail and get my wife some coffee. After that I am going with my wife, assuming the coffee is enough to get her up,  to a nursing home in Abbeville to fill in for my good friends who are on vacation and who faithfully minister at nursing homes. Then I’m going to have lunch with the birthday grandchild. Then I’ll spend the afternoon babysitting her daughter, my first and, so far favorite and for a few more days only, great-grandchild. Then I’ll bring her home and pick up my grandson and take him to youth group while I spend an hour praying at Amana and then an hour listening to our Pastor’s great teaching on Romans. After that I’ll come home and continue chillin by getting ready for tomorrow’s depositions.

See what I mean? It’s chillin’ day. Tomorrow it’s back to being busy, but for today. . . just chillin’. It’s what us old guys do. That 80 year-old Moses, he was a slacker. He needed 83-year-old Aaron just to help him annoy Pharaoh.


Who Am I

In the Kingdom, every person has value. We won’t appreciate anyone’s value if we don’t appreciate our own. Our confusion is understandable. In the words of Casting Crowns (watch the video)  “I am a flower quickly fading; Here today and gone tomorrow; A wave tossed in the ocean; A vapor in the wind. In the totality of creation and the eternalness of time, we ain’t much.

You have to wonder:  Who am I, that the Lord of all the earth would care to know my name; would care to feel my hurt. Who am I, that the Bright and Morning Star would choose to light the way for my ever wandering heart. We are caught in the cosmic confusion between our insignificance and the attention the Creator give us. We can vibrate between humility based on plain worthlessness and vanity formed by Godly focus.

Balance is essential. We need to understand not just our value, but the reason for it. Not because of who I am, but because of what You’ve done. Not because of what I’ve done, but because of who You are. We’ve done nothing valuable. He’s done it all. Our value is based not on us, but on Him.


We have value. In a scary world, we can walk without fear. We have purpose and mission and the means to succeed in both, because of Him.

I am Yours
Whom shall I fear
Whom shall I fear
‘Cause I am Yours
I am Yours

Tears of the Sun

My wife and I watched Tears of the Sun last night. A Special-Ops commander leads his team into the Nigerian jungle to rescue a doctor who will only join them if they agree to save 70 refugees too. The movie has plenty of action and drama, and the atrocities we commit upon each other. It also deals with the worse kind of judgment: the valuation of people. The commander, played by Bruce Willis, is sent in to rescue only  a white German doctor. He learns the value of human life no matter the color, nationality, training, or status. His superiors who are insisting on rescuing only the doctor seem obviously the bad guys. Aren’t we guilty of the same thing?

In just 100 days in 1994, some 800,000 people were slaughtered in Rwanda by ethnic Hutu extremists. They were targeting members of the minority Tutsi community, as well as their political opponents, irrespective of their ethnic origin. In an ongoing genocide, African farmers and others in Darfur are being systematically displaced and murdered at the hands of the Janjaweed. The genocide in Darfur has claimed 400,000 lives and displaced over 2,500,000 people. More than one hundred people continue to die each day; five thousand die every month.

Consider starvation:

  • 2.6 million deaths of children under 5 each year due to lack of food  .
  • Every 12 seconds a child under 5 dies of hunger.
  • One in four of the world’s children are stunted.
  • 23 million children go to school hungry in Africa alone.

That’s just the children. They have parents suffering the unspeakable pain of watching their children die of starvation.

I understand we have problems here at home. The economy is in the toilet. Good people are out of work. People in America are killed because of the color of their skin. Taking down flags and building memorials are understandable, but how ridiculous we must look to that parent of a starving child or those who live in fear of death because of their tribal affiliation, or faith.

Yes many of these atrocities are happening to people because they follow Jesus. I understand that the problems of the world are enormous. Individually we can’t do much, but shouldn’t we be doing something?

Sorry to ruin your Sunday morning, but closing my eyes and trying not to see just isn’t working any more. Every life is valuable, whether it’s in Milton, Louisiana or Sudan. I need to do something. I just don’t know what.

Nothing Good Apart from God


I say to the LORD, “You are my Lord; I have no good apart from you.” (Psalm 16:2)Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you. (Psalm 73:25)

Who are the most joyful people you know? I’ve been thinking about that. I guess it’s the ones who focus on good stuff. Their joy is sometimes temporary because what they thought was good turns out to be not so much.

The nearly perpetually joyful acknowledge that every good thing comes from God. They look around and see the hand and generosity of God everywhere. They can discern what comes from God and cling to those things, avoiding the rest.

The really good stuff is beneficial, lasting, readily available, maybe even free. I have enjoyed swimming the past few weeks. Water is good. It’s life-sustaining. If there’s enough of it you can cool off in it. It will hold  you up and allows  you to exercise with low impact. It’s beneficial, lasting, and unless you live in a desert or in California the past few years, available and free. It’s a pure gift from God. It’s connection to Him is direct. Man does nothing to water to make it good. It’s just good. Now man can mess it up, pollute it, but if we don’t mess with it, it’s good.

Consider other good stuff: cool breezes, starry nights, mountain vistas, clear skies, all great good things direct from God. What about sweet fruits, tasty vegetables and juicy meats. Then there are sizzling steaks, rice and gravy and chocolate. Okay so man gets a bit more involved, and some discretion is necessary, but to the wise, these too are gifts from God. What about smiles, hugs, encouragement, friends, and lovers?  You might not so easily connect them to God, but they are His gifts as well. Just because as humans we can distort, corrupt or withhold them, they still originate with the Creator. They are good things from Him. Good things come from God because God is good.

Let’s go a bit further. There is no good thing that does not come from God. There are plenty of things that look good, feel good, or taste good, but ultimately aren’t good for us. God knows the difference. Since Eden we have been tempted by the lie that we can, on our own, know what’s good for us and what’s not. Going down that road is death. “The LORD God commanded the man, saying, “From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die.” Genesis 2:16-17 When we try to decide for ourselves what’s good for us, joy becomes very fragile and very temporary.

God has told us what’s good and what’s not. He told us what to eat in Eden and what to stay away from. Those things haven’t changed. We have gather more knowledge and experience over the many years since Adam and Eve. We haven’t gotten wiser. We certainly aren’t wiser than God.

Joy lies in recognizing what’s good and soaking those things in. Sadness and death comes with messing with everything else, no matter how good it may look, feel or taste.



Kingdom Thoughts

You don’t have to read the words in red, the words of Jesus, very long until you learn that it’s all about the Kingdom.  “Every thought and saying of Jesus was directed and subordinated to one single thing …, the realization of the Kingdom of God upon the earth,” and “this one phrase [Kingdom of God] sums up his whole ministry and his whole life’s work” ( Jesus: An Historian’s Review of the Gospels, 1995, pp. 10-11).

Jesus said that the kingdom was at hand and, yet, taught us to pray for it “to come.” He began many parables with words such as “the kingdom of God is like…” He seemed often to describe a government with God in charge. At other times he said that the Kingdom of God is within you, or in some translations, “in your midst.” Then at His trial for blasphemy, he said his Kingdom wasn’t “of this world.” Is it possible to reconcile these diverse teachings about the Kingdom?

I believe Jesus was talking about the Kingship or Lordship of God over each life. This is possible because of His sacrifice and is appropriated through faith. I think He was also talking about a world in which kingship would no longer be voluntary, that at some time every “knee will bow and tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.”

What followers experience now is just a foretaste of the perfected kingdom. Our life in the kingdom now is personal, cloudy and faith-based. The kingdom will one day be universal, clear and so real we can touch it. We can enhance our kingdom experience now by having our minds and hearts set of Jesus. The more we can do that, the more we can live in Him, the more real is our Kingdom experience.

It’s foolish to  describe someone as so heavenly minded as to be no earthly good. The only way to be of any earthly good is to be heavenly minded. I’m not talking about walking about with our heads in the clouds. We have real issues that have to be dealt with and focused on every day. The reality, however, is that such things are temporary. Our heads and hearts need to be focused on what lasts, storing up, as we discussed yesterday, treasure in heaven. 

Where’s Your Heart?

19 Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy,and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven,where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Matthew 6

I have noted that I treat the words of Jesus differently. Some I don’t “interpret” or “filter.” These usually contain good news. Others I take with a “grain of salt” or put through a practicality filter.

When he talks about sin, especially sin I’m not troubled by, but drives others crazy, I take him literally and seriously. I’m not so sure about this “treasure” and “heart” thing.

I understand that I’m not suppose to store up treasures on earth, but that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t have a bit of savings, a nice house, a retirement account, maybe a little vacation spot.  It’s no problem that I can’t store everything I own in my house. I have to put things in storage. My closets can be bulging with stuff. That’s not what Jesus is talking about. Is it? I need to have two vehicles. What if my wife wants to go somewhere and I want to go somewhere else? It’s not a problem that I have at least two of many things. Doesn’t everyone open a drawer or closet and discover something they forgot they had.

I mean can’t I store up treasures on earth and in heaven? My stuff doesn’t take up all of my time or distract me from Kingdom work, or take up my energies trying to keep them from rusting or rotting or just going out of style. I do heavenly important things. I mean I can’t do everything. There are only so many hours in the day. One day I’ll have more time and some extra to give away.

I mean the Vatican in Rome is certainly elaborate. Can’t I have my heart here and in heaven? There are churches in town that cost millions to bill. It’s okay for a church to have thousands of dollars in savings when many of it’s members are unemployed or don’t know if they will be able to pay the electric bill and the church staff is barely paid a living wage. I mean if that were wrong, churches wouldn’t do it, would they? That’s not storing up treasures on earth, is it? That’s just being practical and fiscally conservative.

I know the only thing that we know that Jesus owned was the robe on His back. I know He said, “Don’t store up for yourselves treasures on earth.” I know that a “treasure” is  “something that is very special, important, or valuable.” Could He possible mean that we should only have what we need and can immediately use? He surely can’t mean that storing up valuable things, unless they are not being stored for us, is a no-no. I remember he talked about birds and flowers and trusting your heavenly Father. Those are birds and flowers. We are people with real problem. Was He serious? If I don’t have stuff stored up, what will I do if something happens. I’m suppose to rely on God? That doesn’t sound right. That sounds radical.  I’m a Christian, not a nut job.

I mean why does the gospel have to be so complicated? If He didn’t want us to have stuff and rely on ourselves and not put our lives in His hands and trust Him completely, couldn’t He just have said that?

He didn’t say that, did He?

Whole Lot of Judging Going On

There sure is a lot of judging going on. Just spend some time on Facebook, watch the news, spend some time people watching. 

Jesus makes it pretty clear that we are not to judge, but why?

It certainly is intimidating to think about the standards by which we judge others being applied to us. That would seem to be enough to shut down all the judging, but it doesn’t.

How about some other reasons we shouldn’t judge.

We are so bad at it. We’re really bad judges. In court, the fact finder is cautioned to withhold judgment until all the evidence is in. We never have all the evidence. In fact, we jump to judgment with just a thimble full of evidence. We reach final judgment on evidence like:

  1. One news story.

  2. One sentence overheard or read.

  3. One outfit observed.

  4. One glance made.

  5. One opinion heard.

  6. One photo taken.

  7. One mistake made.

I have said some stupid things. Ask anyone or just read my years of blogs. I go swimming every morning. I leave the house in a swimsuit, t-shirt and minimal foot ware. I hope no one who sees me is looking for legal counsel. When I need to post a photo of myself, I spend hours looking for one in which I don’t look silly, like a repeat offender or just plain judgmental. I make mistakes every day; sometimes every hour.

It’s not our job.  God is the only judge. He’s the only one with the right, all the evidence, and the perfect standard. We shouldn’t confuse judging with making life decisions. Jesus said not to judge, but he still had to call certain persons, heal some and not others. He had a small inner circle, a large circle of disciples and an even large circle of followers. Judgment is about valuation of others and not evaluation or suitability for certain purposes. It’s our job to make wise life decisions. It’s not our job to assign value to people.

It’s not about our conduct. If we use God’s standard, and why wouldn’t we, it’s not about what we have done. It’s about our relationship with the Son. No matter how much evidence you gather, you can’t reach a conclusion about that. I know that those in relationship with Jesus act better,  but actions can be deceiving. We can all put up a good front for a while. Those who are in Christ do slip up, daily.

It’s a waste of time. What do we gain from judgment? Couldn’t the time we spend judging be better spent loving?

It violates the core Kingdom principle.  The Kingdom of God is about recognizing the Lordship of Christ and recognizing his death and life is the best evidence of the worth of all. “God don’t make junk” is more than a clever bumper sticker. Jesus said we would be known by the way we love each other. Love that universal is only possible for those who recognize that everyone has worth and who recognize their own worth each day in spite of the evidence which seems to continuously pile up. To God, we are beloved. It’s Satan who calls us worthless. It’s essential that we don’t apply his standard to ourselves or to others.


Glorious Unfolding

Recently I’ve taken a lot of comfort from Steven Curtis Chapman’s Glorious Unfolding.

Consider the lyrics:

Lay your head down tonight
Take a rest from the fight
Don’t try to figure it out
Just listen to what I’m whispering to your heart
‘Cause I know this is not
Anything like you thought
The story of your life was gonna be
And it feels like the end has started closing in on you
But it’s just not true
There’s so much of the story that’s still yet to unfold

And this is going to be a glorious unfolding
Just you wait and see and you will be amazed
You’ve just got to believe the story is so far from over
So hold on to every promise God has made to us
And watch this glorious unfolding

There is so much truth in the song. Life is a fight with often just the whisper of God to keep us going. Life rarely goes like we think it will. There is often a sense that the end is closing in. It’s also true that the story isn’t over and we have to hold on to the promises of God.

However, it’s also important and helpful to keep some truths in mind.

The story doesn’t end in this life. The glorious may not completely unfold in this life. Why do we think that as Christians we have a right to an easy, problem-free life? Of the Apostles, John was the “lucky” one. He wasn’t killed for his belief. Unlike all his associates, he just died in prison. Complete peace, joy and rest is unlikely in this life.

Glorious may not be what we think.  We may not have God’s perspective on what is glorious. It’s glorious to Him when we seek His face. That often doesn’t happen when the sun is shining. It’s glorious when He is important to us individually and as nations. That doesn’t happen unless there are hard times. Remember the days after 911.

Forgiveness doesn’t always include consequence elimination.  We, as Christians, are blessed with forgiveness for every sin. Sin still has consequences for ourselves and others. Even with the blessings of forgiveness, the waves we set in motion may continue to roll for years.

Let’s remember to fight the fight, to rest in his arms in our beds at night, to be secure in the promises of glorious unfoldings,  sometimes in this life, but always in the forever after.