Contact Me

If you enjoy my blog and would like to contact me, you may reach me at this email:

Some of my stories are published in:
A Cup of Comfort Devotional for Mothers and Daughters (Adams Media, 2009)
Chicken Soup: What I Learned from the Dog (2009)
Love is a Flame (Bethany House, 2010)
Extraordinary answers to Prayer (Guideposts, 2010)
Love is a Verb (Bethany House, 2011)
Big Dreams from Small Spaces (Group Publishing, 2012)

Monday, July 30, 2012

Talent Ain't Enough

I watched the London Olympics yesterday.
I so admire these young athletes.
Many started out as young children and have worked doggedly to achieve their goals.
However, I was shocked and a little disappointed by Michael Phelp's dismal performance in the men's  (swimming) 400 medley.
I couldn't believe how he lagged behind almost from the beginning.
Michael Phelps? My swimming hero?
It simply couldn't be.
But he finished about 4 seconds slower than the amazing Ryan Lockte.
I felt so bad for Phelps as he looked up and viewed his disappointing time on the scoreboard.
Later, some commentators said that he simply hadn't trained hard for the event.
Almost like he had assumed that his great talent would take him the distance.

I don't know if that's true or not.
But I've seen  a similar attitude in many talented people.
It's an arrogance, frequently born out of ignorance or naivete.
It's usually the young ones; the ones who haven't gone out into the world and discovered that there are tons of talented people, just like them.
Their competition.

Just like athletics, the arts also attract some incredibly talented people:
artists, musicians, writers, dancers.
The ones who are smart know that the "race" is about doing everything possible to make their work stand out.
Talent isn't enough. If you're talented, you're a dime a dozen.
In a world of big fishes, you must be even bigger.
Smart artists look for ways to increase their edge even after they've achieved a measure of success:
  • a little more training,
  • constant efficient practice
  • taking that extra class,
  • finding the best coaches or teachers,
  • studying your game and analyzing your weaknesses,
  • assessing the competition,
  • constantly asking yourself --and your critics -- what more you can do to improve
  • and never assuming you know it all.
The Christian life is like this, as well. Not that we're competing to be more mature or more Christ-filled than other believers. But the Holy Spirit's call to the Christian is to be diligent and disciplined in seeking Christ, in seeking to know Him and in obeying Him in all things. The Apostle Paul speaks about this when he describes his motivation to spread the gospel. (1st Cor. 9:25-27) It's like an athlete who trains hard so that he can win. No matter what each of us has been called to do, we need to do it with similar zeal.

I sure hope Michael Phelps comes back from his humiliating performance. I hope he continues to do the things required to prepare himself for another 2008-type race.
He's a great talent.

 "You've all been to the stadium and seen the athletes race. Everyone runs; one wins. Run to win. All good athletes train hard. They do it for a gold medal that tarnishes and fades. You're after one that's gold eternally.
I don't know about you, but I'm running for the finish line. I'm giving it everything I've got. No sloppy living for me! I'm staying alert and in top condition. I'm not going to get caught napping, telling everyone else about it and then missing out myself." (1st Cor. 9:25 The Message)

Thursday, July 26, 2012

I'm An Eyewitness

A couple of days ago my daughter-in-law went into the hospital to have her second baby boy.
It seemed like she'd been pregnant for forever.
We thought she'd deliver the baby some time in the evening It's a long drive from Estes to Longmont,  so I scheduled my own doctor appointment for that afternoon. Why not kill two birds with one stone?
But around 2:30 the delivery nurses started saying that the baby would come very soon, probably in about an hour.
Rats! I was going to miss the delivery due to my appointment.
But God was gracious. I did my appointment, raced back to the hospital in time to see little Jace come into the world.
What a joy to witness a birth, especially my own grandson's.

Then I got to thinking, why was it so important for me to be there, right there, close?
To touch, smell, hear, hold.
To see it for myself, instead of just receiving a report of the baby's birth.

I thought about other things that have happened throughout history.
Even recently.
The news media interviews people who have been at the scene of a crime, or a fire, or a terrorist attack.
Or it could be something joyful, like a celebrity wedding, or the signing of a treaty.
Why are the eyewitnesses so important?

Because they have credibility.
They didn't just hear about it.
They were there.
We believe them, more than someone who merely reports other people's observations.
And if lots of people witnessed the same thing, we really believe them.

If Jace's older brother, in a moment of caprice ever tried to tell his little brother,  "You aren't Mom's real baby. You were switched at birth."
I could say, "Nope, I was there, Jace. I saw you as you were emerging from your mother's body."

We humans have a great passion for knowing the truth. Perhaps that's why we yearn to be "there" at the moment something of great importance happens. To be able to attest to it.
"Yes, it really happened. I know, because I was there and I saw it."

The Apostle John put it this way in his first epistle to Believers when stating that he had credibility concerning his relationship with Jesus Christ:

"That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched --this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us. We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us." (1st John 1:1-3 NIV Bible)

Some day we will be real eyewitnesses.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Does Aurora Surprise You?

The recent horror at the Aurora, Colorado Cinema 16 has all of us Americans reeling.
What kind of mind conceives such a diabolical plan? And carries it out on innocent and precious people?
Sickening. Heart-breaking.
I've heard so many people in the media voice the usual "Tsk, tsk, he must have been a disenfranchised young person, someone who never fit in, never felt accepted or affirmed by family or friends. So now he's acting out his rage by getting revenge, even on innocent people."
I'm so tired of hearing this explanation.
This kind of mass murder rarely happened years ago.
If someone felt unhappy by the way he was treated by society, he didn't resort to murder.

Our society is reaping what we have sown.
We have largely rejected the God of the Bible.
Our courts try to tell us we're not allowed to display the Ten Commandments.
We get in trouble for praying in public, for reading our Bibles in school, for mentioning the name of Jesus, for displaying a cross.
We no longer have Christmas concerts at school. They're called "Holiday" concerts.
Our prisons are filled to overflowing.
There are very few societal consequences for sin.
We don't blush anymore at filthy language or overt sexuality on TV. 
We think it's okay to mutilate or burn to death a baby inside its mother's womb, then dispose of it in the trash. After all, it's just a blob of tissue.
We don't trust our politicians.
Discipline, respect for authority, honor for older people, love of country, responsibility for one's actions: nearly non-existent.
And we ask, "how can these kinds of murders happen?"

Why wouldn't these kinds of murders happen?
Here's how our society has taught us to think:

Since . . . 
My schools teach me that I am just a product of evolution,
since I am not a special and loved creation of God,
(indeed, there is no God)
since I am the sum total of life,
since I am god; and there is no other beside me,
then I do not answer to anybody.
No limitation on my personal freedom will be tolerated.
Since I want what I want when I want it, then
"god" help anyone who gets in my way.
Since. . . 
 My parents live exactly the same way,
since they have no god but themselves,
then nothing is more important than their own comfort and convenience.
The schools teach me the same thing.
My teachers are not in authority. They "facilitate" what I choose to learn.
If I choose to learn at all.
Truth is what I choose it to be. And don't you dare try to tell me what you believe is better!
My teachers teach me that I am not responsible for my actions.
My brain is not mature enough to comprehend the ramifications for my actions.
I cannot control my appetites. That's just the way my body has evolved over millions and millions of years. I am an animal.
So it is up to my parents and schools and government to supply me with condoms or birth control pills.
The government is responsible for supplying everything that I need. That's their purpose.

Since. . . 
The world exists for my pleasure, then
if you displease me in any way I will smear you on the internet. Hah! I could care less.

 Because of this mindset. . . 
I am angry that I do not have everything that I want. 
I stuff my belly with sweet things while I play video games all day. 
(Why should I have to work or study?)
I yell at my parents because they're so stupid.
I curse the drivers around me because they don't know that this road belongs to me.
I cheat at school, at work. 
I cheat against my spouse because he (she) doesn't "get" me.
I obey the law only when I might get caught.
After all, there's no God looking over my shoulder. And even if I do get caught I'll just get a slap on the wrist and maybe some counseling.

I think I've heard about Adam and Eve. Aren't they the ones who lived in that mythical garden with the snake? What a joke.
But Abraham,  Moses, David? Who are they?
The Bible is a book of fairy stories.
Jesus is a swear word.
Hell doesn't exist.
We're all going to heaven to party eventually. 'Cause a loving God (I don't believe in Him, though) wouldn't send anyone to hell.

So I guess we shouldn't be surprised that a young man walks into a theater and kills twelve people. Without remorse or conscience. He has not been raised to believe that human life has value.
We are raising a generation of little Nero's. (Who's that? The schools never taught me about him.)

As long as we --as individuals and as a nation --continue to usurp God's throne and place our own puny selves on that Heavenly Seat, we will continue to see evil flourish.
Oh, how we need Jesus.

"For although they knew God, they neither glorified Him as God nor gave thanks to Him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools. . . " (Romans. 1: 21, 22 NIV Bible)

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Do You Grow in Good Times?

It's an interesting comment: "I've seen people grow in both terrible times and good times."
One of my faithful and godly readers stated that.
I agree, and I disagree.
It all depends on how you look at "good times."

My last blog was about challenging times and how --through the power of the Holy Spirit -- they nudge us as believers to become more like Jesus.

As a human, I like my comfort and security.
There's very little that will make me change my status quo (physical, spiritual or emotional) unless it's absolutely necessary.
My brain has developed certain neural pathways according to how I habitually think and act.

When God calls me to make an adjustment in the way I think, speak, act, or react, it takes a powerful stimulus to alter that habit. Everything in me balks at change. It's simply more comfortable going down the same well-worn path each day.

I like to think about the Apostle Peter.
What did it take to take him from an impetuous, arrogant, prideful man. . .
to the humble, faithful, bold-for-Jesus disciple who died on a cross, upside down?

It was easy for him to state that he would die for Jesus.
It was natural for him, as well, to quickly deny Jesus three times when his own safety was threatened.
But how easy was it for him to repent, then obediently take on the shepherding of thousands of future disciples leading eventually to his agonizing martyrdom? (John 21: 15-19)

I've begun lifting weights again. I used to do this, and got really strong.
Then time, age, hormones --or the lack of them --took their toll.
So I'm trying to re-build  my pecs and abs and gluts and the rest.
But when you try to build up a muscle you must first stress that muscle.
You must make the muscle fibers tear down and rebuild into something bigger and more dense.
This process causes a little pain. But the result is a stronger muscle.

I think my reader who stated that one can grow in good times was possibly referring to times of refreshment or fellowship, or reflection. These are times that come after or during our inevitable daily faith-challenges.
I grow spiritually during those times because:
  •  I reflect on the goodness of God as He has dealt with me as a loving Father. (Though His parenting has not always been laughter, fun and cuddling.) 
  • I experience a pleasant blessing (contrasted with other times of less pleasant blessings),  
  • I spend wonderful times with other believers, (sharing good and hard times and encouraging one another)
  • I  worship God, giving Him praise and thanks. (But even then, scripture  refers to "a sacrifice of praise." It takes faith and obedience and love to praise God when incomprehensibly bad things happen.)

 I suspect that the growth you see during those "good times" happens because your "muscle" was recently stressed and challenged.
What rest, nutrition,  and sleep  does for a challenged muscle:  it repairs and rebuilds during that time --a time of refreshment and reflection does for the Christian.
So, does a Christian grow during good times?
Or is it simply that the fruit of some other day (one of challenge) is making itself apparent?
I guess it's all how you look at it.

"Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing or your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything." (James 1:2-4 NIV Bible)


Monday, July 16, 2012

What Makes You Grow?

I have a question for my Christian friends:
When do you grow spiritually?

I was sharing coffee and ideas with my friend Nancy the other day.
We got to talking about some of our hardest times and how those were the days that caused us to: pray harder and more effectively,
share our challenges with other Christians,
read scripture with greater urgency,
 reflect more about what God is doing,
and examine our hearts more.

I said, "wouldn't it be great if we could just sit in our armchairs and "think and grow rich" in faith?
Nancy said, "Can you think of a time, any time, when you grew in comfort?"

Of course I knew the answer to that. No, I've never grown unless something uncomfortable challenged me to change from the status quo and grow.
Why is that?
Why can't we just study scripture, pray for wisdom and insight and greater love, etc. and then sit back and watch the Holy Spirit provide those things?
After all, isn't He the one Who sanctifies us and provides daily grace?

I guess it's just like my constant attempts to get healthier and slimmer.
I can read all the books about proper nutrition.
I can takes copious notes on the subject.
I can discuss exercise and diet with my friends.

But. . .
until I actually apply that knowledge I won't get any closer to realizing my dream. It'll take work, sacrifice, discipline. I have to actually cook better food. I have to actually get up and exercise.
But the reward is worth it.

Oh, wouldn't it be wonderful to vedge in front of the TV, licking an ice cream cone while listening to some diet guru? Then, after about two hours of listening and comprehending all that the diet guru said, the next time I dragged myself off the couch to look in the mirror, I'd be slimmer.

Isn't that a great fantasy?
It's a fantasy in the Christian life, too.

So the next time some challenge knocks me over the head: some health problem, some financial difficulty, some crisis with a family member, some problem with the neighbors, some inconvenient request for service or funds at the church. . .
I'd better get off my spiritual couch and start exercising my spiritual muscles with God's principles clearly in my head,
and His Holy Spirit undergirding me.

"Pure gold put in the fire comes out of it proved pure; genuine faith put through this suffering comes out proved genuine. When Jesus wraps this all up, it's your faith, not your gold, that God will have on display as evidence of His victory." (1 Peter 1: 6, 7 The Message)

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Now You See It. . .

We visited Sinks State Park in Wyoming last week.
It's a scenic place, not unlike parts of the Colorado Rockies.
Just a few miles west of the town of Lander, Wyoming, the road rises and meanders into a lovely canyon.
If you didn't know any better you'd never know that the river that parallels the road holds a really cool secret: sometimes the river appears to have disappeared.
But it's still there. You just can't see it.
You see, for most of the year subterranean limestone channels allow the water to flow, unseen, down into the valley.
But during heavy rains or snow-melt, the channels cannot contain the extra amounts of water. The result is a visible river.
Occasionally, the underground limestone channels broaden out  and the above-ground river "sinks" underground for several yards, only to re-appear with great force farther down the canyon. Over time, as the river gushes back above ground, it carves out limestone caverns.
If you're passing through the area in the summer, I recommend giving the place a look-see.

It's interesting: for much of the year you don't see the river. But you know it's there. Because you can clearly see the evidence of the river's past activity. The river hasn't gone away.
The river is doing the work that all rivers do: it's still flowing down the canyon into the lowlands, watering and nurturing farm and pasture land.

Have you ever thought about the Holy Spirit in these same terms?
At times you can see His activity.
Other times, not.
But you know He's there.
He may be doing something marvelous just under the landscape of your soul.
Or, at other times, He may burst forth and provide a glimpse, or even a panorama shot of the Kingdom.
In barren times, you may feel that He's not present. All you see is a dry river bed.
But the facts of His presence contained in the Bible reassure you that feelings aren't always the best indicators of God's nearness.
And as the years pass, you have come to see that even when the river sinks underground, it always reappears. Always.

"Never will I leave you;
never will I forsake you." (Hebrews 13:5 NIV Bible)

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

I'm Offline

Hi readers,
I will be posting again on Thursday, July 12th. I'm off to do research for a manuscript!

Monday, July 2, 2012

Bullies on the Bus

I watched with outrage and sadness that news clip of the older woman being bullied on the schoolbus.
Perhaps you saw it, too. Three or four boys --I think they were seventh graders --insulted this sweet sixty-eight year old woman. And they even filmed their despicable behavior.
The woman had been hired to monitor the bus during operation, to keep the kids safe.
The video clip was almost too awful to watch. Not only did I feel bad for the woman, but I felt such shame for these brats.
How could they do such a thing?
Did any of them feel so much as a pang of conscience?
The woman didn't say much. She didn't lose her temper or return insults. At one point she wiped her eyes and explained to the boys that she was crying because they were making her so sad. That only produced more bullying.
One of the boys smirked into the camera as if to say, "Isn't this funny? Aren't we cool?"
Oh, how I wished I could have reached right through the lens of the camera, grabbed that boy by the throat and given him a thrashing. I'm sure most viewers felt the same way.

If you had been that woman, what would you have said?
There was a time when you could have said, "Shame on you, what would your mother say if she could see you right now?"
Or perhaps you'd have said, "Shame on you! When your teacher finds out, he'll have you thrown off the bus, permanently."

But I heard that the parents only "had a talk" with their sons.
If that had been one of my kids, there would have been long-reaching and painful consequences. And my child would have had to go to the woman's home and apologize to her face. Then I would have required him or her to perform house-hold projects around the woman's place for a set amount of time until the "debt" was paid.

I heard that the school has done very little to discipline these boys or to set an example to other kids of the consequences of bad behavior.

Why do we not take sin seriously?
Oh, right. We don't think it's sin.
It's just immaturity. Psychologists have discovered that the boys' brains haven't reached that point where they can control their actions or comprehend the ramifications of their behavior.
It's a funny thing about psychologists and their discoveries; before they became so enlightened by research, kids like me got punished for bad behavior. And you know what? We actually learned to behave ourselves and control our baser inclinations. Amazing! 

And the schools no longer talk about God.
And the parents, no doubt, believe there is a god, but he's a kind and loving god who wants all of us to just be tolerant. And we're all going to heaven anyway, 'cause a loving god would never send anyone to hell. So there's no reason to repent and change one's behavior.

I once received a lecture from my son's third-grade teacher on the "right" way to handle a situation involving some disrespectful words he'd said at school. She said I must never make him feel bad about what he said. That would hurt his self-esteem. I told her that if and when one of my children does something wrong, he should feel bad about it. That sense of shame about his actions would help him learn not do the same thing again. By the teacher's silence, I could tell she thought I was an abusive parent. For the record, all three of my children have grown into lovely, respectful, kind, loving, law-abiding adults.

I wish our society would take sin seriously.
I know God does.

". . . yet now I am happy, not because you were made sorry, but because your sorrow led you to repentance. For you became sorrowful as God intended and so were not harmed in any way by us. Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death." (2 Cor. 7: 9,10 NIV Bible)