Opinion

...now browsing by tag

 
 

February 29

Thursday, February 29th, 2024

LEAP YEAR!

The ways of God never cease to amaze me. Who would have known-other than Him-that one of the more horrific times in my life would lead to a friendship that is like “brothers from another mother.”

In November of 2016 I was hit by a hit-n-run driver while riding my bike. It was in the afternoon; I was wearing bright clothing; and I was hit by an SUV’s rearview mirror on my left hip. While I laid in the middle of the highway, I watched as the driver took off, never once putting on a brake or to see if I was okay. (Yeah, I believe it was intentional. There are some idiots on the road. Ask the guy who got so close to me I felt his breeze on my leg then gave me the finger). Anyway…

I had had a little interest in an organization called 3 Feet Please but after this incident my interest ramped up. Its goal is to advocate for 3 feet of distance between car and rider and make it a law. Little did I know the leadership of 3FP had changed from a man in Florida to a man in Arizona. Dave and I struck up an email conversation which graduated to more regular contact. Then one weekend he came to visit. He spent 2 winters in Maine to get out of the heat in AZ (yeah he needs his head examined 🙂 ) and stopped to visit on his way through. There have been multiple other visits, emails, texts, and phone calls until our trip to AZ last week was the icing on the cake.

Both our wives agree we are too much alike in many respects. While I am an extreme extrovert and he’s an introvert whose brain never stops, he knows so much more about certain areas of “life” than me. Our wives would say we are “brothers from another mother.”

As we visited I had decided on the flight there to take an aggressive approach to reading Proverbs. Normally, I take one chapter a day every other month. This time I decided to read the whole book while on vacation, which meant 4 chapters a day. As a result, I read two Scriptures that particularly meant more to me. “There are ‘friends’ who destroy each other, but a real friend sticks closer than a brother.” (Pr. 18:24). The other says, “As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.” (Pr. 27:17).

True friendship is hard to find, let alone experience, especially for men. At 71 I can look back and see men I’ve been friends with. That tends to be characteristic of my personality. Except for one, they have all come and gone…more like acquaintances. This friendship with Dave is special. Sort of like David and Jonathan’s. We are good for each other.  Our wives agree-even though we can be a bit wacky and off the wall.

I thank God for a much-needed and much-appreciated friendship. Do you have one you can lean on?

February 28

Wednesday, February 28th, 2024

We are back! After a 7-day excursion to Gilbert, Phoenix, Sedona, Scottsdale, and the Grand Canyon, we arrived safely home last night…a 1/2 hour early and ahead of the storm (that didn’t come until around 2:00 a.m.). I suspect you may  be expecting a “book” from me about all the stops and shopping and sights…but words fail me. Surprise! Surprise!

Thanks to the graciousness of a friend and his very longsuffering wife, 🙂  Jo and I had the vacation many people dream of. Having the freedom of a car at our disposal allowed us the ability to just come and go. I had a chance on Thursday to meet a long time blogging friend, Floyd, in Scottsdale where Jo and I were treated to lunch (against my protests). We had some of the best pulled pork I have ever tasted, as well as some of the best BBQ sauce, along with the added enjoyment of meeting Dave and Susan’s family and extended family. We spent two nights in Sedona where the stories of the vortex and the center of the hippie/New Age Movement was/is focused. I stayed away from the psychics, etc. 🙂 We took a 5 hour round trip to the Grand Canyon where I felt like I was going to be blown away by a very chilly 20 mph wind and with the grandeur of God’s creation on display. The only words I could think of were “The heavens proclaim the glory of God. The skies display His craftsmanship.” (Ps.19:1)  “When I look at the night and see the work of Your fingers-the moon and stars you set in place-what are mere mortals that you should think about them, human beings that you should care for them?” (Ps. 8:3-4)  But it wasn’t just the Grand Canyon! Camelback Mountain. “Snoopy Rock.” Tea Pot Rock. Red Rock City. So much more.

You know what I’m praying? That the wonder doesn’t go away. May I be ever mindful of the wonder of God’s creation, the joy of new things, and the value of friendships that will last well into eternity, even when separated by thousands of miles in distance. 

Thank you Dave and Susan for the gift of your friendship and the once in a lifetime trip. And “Thank You, Father, for the incredible display of your creative genius.”

{Note: All Scripture from the New Living Translation}

February 20

Tuesday, February 20th, 2024

In our day and age never has the pull to be overly committed been stronger. I think we would all agree that those things/devices which were supposed to make our lives simpler, easier and less complicated have done the exact opposite. That phone, for example, which went from a landline to a huge car phone in the middle console to an “attached-at-the-hip” thing, has made life difficult. We can’t seem to get away, to find quiet, or to relax.

Tragically, one of the fallouts to that lifestyle is a tendency to forget God is always present. I was recently reading a devotion focused on Joshua’s final words to the people of Israel in Joshua 23.  In his speech,  Joshua’s words in 24:15 become the focal point: “Choose today whom you will serve…but as for me and my family, we will serve the Lord.” (NLT)

To only focus on that verse does a great disservice to chapter 23, the early part of his final words?sermon. The devotion focused on 23:6-11 and made four observations on how to maintain our devotion to the Lord. I’ll give them to you with my short commentary:

  1. Give attention to God’s Word (v.6). Fill your mind and heart with Scripture. Don’t allow your time with Him to read and grow to become lax.
  2. Avoid pagan influence (v.7). Maybe we need to strongly consider what we watch, what we read, what we listen to, or even hang around and see if it a wrong influence.
  3. Attach yourself to God (v.8). I wonder what would happen if we attached ourselves to God like we have attached ourselves to our phone?
  4. Cultivate a deep affection for God in every way (verses 9-11). Develop an intimacy with God that grows deeper over time.

I leave you with those thoughts. Jo and I-thanks to the graciousness of a friend-will be leaving today for a week’s vacation to Arizona. We will be back, Lord willing, next Tuesday, the 27th. I hope to post on the 28th (providing jet lag don’t kill me!) 🙂 Prayers for our safety to and from (we are flying) and while there (we will be doing some driving) would be much appreciated. I need some rest and relaxation and this will have to do the trick for now. I do not have Feedly on my phone so I probably will be absent from any blog I normally read and comment on.

February 19

Monday, February 19th, 2024

“Like father like son.”

“Well…that fruit didn’t far too far from the tree.”

Those are both statements we use when speaking about how much like a father his son is. It could be his actions. It could be the way he thinks. It could be the way he reacts to situations. It could be the way he speaks. It could be his demeanor or even how he treats others.

And here’s the thing: sometimes its a compliment and sometimes it’s a putdown.

In the Old Testament, there is a father and son whose stories are different. The son’s fruit was nothing like his dad’s. If the dad was a peach tree, the son’s fruit was an apple. Strange, I know, but let me explain.

Saul was chosen to be the king and Jonathan was his son. Saul blew it…big time. Not once but twice actually. In I Samuel 13-14 we find the first instance. The Philistines were a thorn in the side of the Israelites. Samuel promised victory but Saul needed to wait 7 days for Samuel to show up and offer a sacrifice. The people of Israel were getting antsy and when Samuel didn’t show up Saul offered the sacrifice himself. That was a no-no. Just as Saul was done offering the sacrifice, Samuel arrived and reamed him out and told him he lost his kingdom (I Sam. 13:14).

Meanwhile, Jonathan and his armor-bearer were doing something phenomenal. They were freeclimbing a cliff to go against the Philistines with Jonathan’s words echoing into the valley: “Perhaps the Lord will help us, for nothing can hinder the Lord. He can win a battle whether he has many warriors or a few.” (14:6).

Jonathan was aware he was next in line to rule the kingdom after Saul’s death. But he also knew David was God’s choice and was to be the next king. Jonathan gladly gave up his “right” and ambition for God’s plan with David.

A great story! And what proof that sometimes fruit falling far from the tree is a good thing.

For another story of Saul’s disobedience and foolishness check out I Samuel 15.  (All Scripture from the New Living Translation).

#ToughChallenges

Friday, February 16th, 2024

There are two ways to coach someone. You can coach down. Or you can coach up. I’m guessing you are probably wondering what in the world I am talking about.  Real briefly: coaching up is a positive way to coach.  Look for signs of improvement. Look for signs of progress. To get to this week’s Scripture I would say read Colossians 3:1-4. To wrap up from last week:

  • We need to set our minds and hearts on things above. (v.1)
  • We need to reshape our perspective. (v.2)
  • We need to redefine our purpose. (verses 3-4).

Sadly, there is also a need to “coach down.” Let me explain. Coaching down in this instance means to “put to death” certain things. Verses 5-11 is a list of things Paul says we are to put to death. Here they are:

  • We are to put to death our sinful passions. (5-7)
  • We are to put to death our sinful practices. (8-10)
  • We must put to death our sinful pride. (11)

This Sunday’s message is Part 1 of Tough Challenges are Given. Pastor Ryan will be preaching Part 2 while Jo and I are gone. If you have a chance to visit, we would love to have you. If you are unable to join us in person, please check out our live stream. We meet at 9:00 and 10:45.

For another perspective on this sermon, please check out my other blog, Cycleguy’s Spin. You can link to it here.

February 15

Thursday, February 15th, 2024

“Lest we forget…”

I woke up this morning with that phrase running through my mind. “Lest we forget…” It’s not uncommon to hear that spoken at a commemoration service honoring men and women who have served our country. And we never should forget.

In I Corinthians 10 a phrase very similar to that is used not once, but twice. In 10:6 it says, “These things happened as a warning to us…” In verse 11 it says, “These things happened as examples for us. They were written down to warn us who live at the end of the age.”

The gist? Lest we forget.

As a follower of Jesus, I must not forget the lessons learned or to be learned. I need to recall the lessons others learned and shared lest I fall into the same pit they fell into or possibly avoided. Nor should I forget the lessons I have learned from past experiences.

I say all this because of an incident people just won’t let go of. All the “rage” this week has been the Travis Kelce dust-up with his coach, Andy Reid. I didn’t watch the Super Bowl. I could care less if Travis was telling his coach about his latest escapade with his overly-hyped girlfriend. I don’t care if he was telling Coach Reid that he had heartburn from his pregame meal. I. SIMPLY. DON’T. CARE.  But since I wasn’t born yesterday nor is my head buried under a rock, I cannot escape hearing or reading about the pundits, especially other overly paid football players. I read an article where several of them said, “If that had been me I would have been…” Then one of them pulled out the race card (Isn’t that getting kind of old?). It is my understanding these players quickly forgot the grace shown to them by the NFL just a few years ago. One was convicted of choking his girlfriend in college and yet…wait for it…he is given a second chance and drafted because he can catch an odd-shaped ball.  Did he forget? Obviously.

My point is this: “Lest we forget.” As a Christ-follower we must never forget what we deserved versus what we received. The Israelites were given the examples in I Corinthians 10 (I encourage you to read the first 12 verses for reference and context) so they would not forget. They must not forget the damage and tragedy of sin and disobedience. But they also must not forget the goodness of God.

Good words for me to remember lest I forget.

February 14

Wednesday, February 14th, 2024

Have you ever noticed that there are typically two kinds of people dealing with Valentine’s Day? There are those to love it. They go all out-flowers, cards, eating out (or cooking a candlelight dinner…since when?). On the other hand are those who loathe the day. Love has left them high and dry. Disappointed. Broken.

Disregarding the love/loathe feelings, the idea behind the day-expressing love-is a good one (although it has become a tad bit too cheesy and commercial).

The very first date Jo and I went on was back in 1971, near the end of our freshman year in college. I borrowed a car and we were off to another town to see the movie everyone was raving about-Love Story-starring Ryan O’Neal and Ali McGraw. Without researching it I couldn’t tell you much about the movie except 3 things: 1) Ali was a beautiful woman; 2) I think she was dying; and 3) one of the stupidest statements about love came from that movie. That saying was “Love means never having to say you’re sorry.”

Say what? If that’s the case I’ve just wasted 50+ years of being married to the same woman! If I had a dollar for every time I have had to say, “I’m sorry” I could retire and live off the interest! I realize there are bullies and arrogant people who either blame others consistently or cannot look in the mirror and admit they make mistakes. But seriously? Never?

Love is an elusive definition. The Apostle Paul described love in perhaps the most recognized Scripture and description. He described love as being kind, patient, not jealous, not proud, not demanding, not a record-keeper, not a “rejoicer” in wrong but a “rejoicer” in truth. But even that falls short when you consider a cross on a hill when the perfect Lover gave His life for all people so sin can be defeated and death vanquished.

He never had to say, “I’m sorry.” But we who look at that cross should fall to our knees in tears and repentance with those two words flowing from our lips: “I’m sorry my sin put you there.”

After all, “No greater love has a man than this than a man lay down his life for his friends.” Happy real Valentine’s Day.

February 13

Tuesday, February 13th, 2024

On my mind this morning when I woke up; when I rode my bike on my inside trainer; as I took a shower and dressed; and now as I sit and read my Bible at the table is a task-something I will do today…

I will attend a visitation and funeral of the friend of one of our new young ladies in the church.

She drank herself to death. That is harsh to say, I know, but even though only 30, her body said, “Enough.” It came to that point of her liver and kidneys failing due to alcohol abuse and past cancer treatments.

She is not alone. It is almost like an epidemic. People who lose hope. More specifically, young people who have lost hope. I guess we expect it more from an older person who can say, “I’ve lived my life. It is time for me to go.” But a young person? That cuts. Losing hope knows no age limits. It knows no status (Hollywood stars for example). It knows no financial acumen (the rich or the poor).

When did people lose hope? Please don’t fall back on COVID, although I am convinced it may have exacerbated it. Isolation. Loneliness. But I ask again: when did people lost hope? When did they lose sight of what David wrote: “How precious are your thoughts about me, O God. They cannot be numbered! I can’t even count them; they outnumber the grains of sand! And when I wake up, you are still with me!”? (Ps. 139:17-18). Maybe a better question is, “Did they ever know they were valuable to God?”

There seems to be no doubt that we are living in a hopeless generation and it is tragic that so many are living in such despair that they either want to end it all, give up, or in the case like this just simply say, “What’s the use?” and stop fighting for life. If we could only get back to what David wrote earlier in Psalm 139: “I can never escape from your Spirit! I can never get away from your presence! If I go up to heaven, you are there; if I go down to the grave, you are there. If I ride the wings of the morning, if I dwell by the farthest oceans, even there your hand will guide me, and your strength will support me.” (verses 7-10). Those aren’t words of lament, of complaining about God’s presence. They are words of triumph. Of joy. Of hope.

Something there is just too little of these days. But something offered to us by the One who gave and gives us life.

February 12

Monday, February 12th, 2024

Today is Abraham Lincoln’s birthday. It is now part of what is being called President’s Day which is a celebration on February 19th, a conglomerate of Lincoln’s birthday and Washington’s birthday (22nd). I can remember when we used to celebrate them separately. Now I can’t even remember when that changed. Perhaps that happened when we got all “revisionist history?” I don’t know. My post today is not going to go down that rabbit trail.

Instead, Abraham Lincoln was known for making wise statements. I’d like to take a brief look at two of them.

One actually finds it roots in the Old Testament book of Proverbs. Lincoln once said, “It is better to keep your mouth shut and thought a fool than to open it and remove all doubt.” Those words are very similar to those found in Proverbs 17:28.

The other is a bit more confrontive. With the Civil War spawning bitter feelings all across our country, Abe saw fit to speak a kind word about the south. A shocked bystander asked him how he could do that. His answer was poignant: “Madam, do I not destroy my enemies when I make them my friend?”

Jesus once said, “Love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you.” (Mt. 5:43). “If your enemies are hungry, give them food to eat. If you are thirsty, give them water to drink. You will reap burning coals of shame on their heads, and the Lord will reward you.” (Pr. 25:21-22).

Instead of responding tit for tat, let’s respond as Jesus has told us, and as Proverbs has encouraged us to. There is power in our actions…or inaction.

{Note: All Scripture is from the New Living Translation}

February 8

Thursday, February 8th, 2024

Something to think about: Someone has said, “Humility is not thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less.”

There is most definitely some truth to that. Proverbs 29:23 says, “Pride ends in humiliation, while humility bring honor.” When speaking to the proud and spiritually, self-righteous, arrogant Pharisees, Jesus said, “The greatest among you must be a servant. But those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” (Mt. 23:11-12).  And, of course, I think most of us are familiar with the words “Pride goes before a fall.”

Humility is not an easy virtue to see, nor is it an easy one to manifest. One can’t go around saying or thinking, “I’m humble” because that defeats the whole thing. 🙂 I read that the Hebrew word for humility literally means “being aware of and comfortable with your place.” I like that because it says, “Where I am, there I am. I’m content with my space and don’t want yours.”

In the book of Genesis we find the story of the tower of Babel. In 11:4 they say, “Come, let’s build a great city for ourselves with a tower that reaches into the sky. This will make us famous (emphasis mine). It made them famous alright, just not in the way they thought or wanted. They should have stayed content in their space.

Today’s challenge: Don’t think less of yourself. Think of yourself less. See how it turns out and let me know.

{Note: All Scripture verses are from the New Living Translation}