The Coward Within

This morning I got a message that my Daughter-in-law’s Pastor is now the Father of a suicidal son.  I wish I could tell you he got help but instead he took his own life at just 28 years old.  This family will never be the same.  Every year when February ends they will be reminded of their son who destroyed the most precious gift ever given to them.

Suicide is so common in today’s world that it hardly registers the top ten list of bad things that happen.  School shootings, opioid abuse, meth labs, and somewhere down the list: suicides.  Pair this with a constant barrage of media reports about scandalous and earth-changing events around the world and you have the basic breakfast for the twenty-first Century mind.

This young man was afraid of something.  He may have been afraid of everything, even himself.  His Father is a preacher in a small church who I am sure had to have all the right answers and have the right clothes and demeanor.  He managed to be as perfect as possible when with his congregation.  He blessed their children, performed their weddings, and buried their dead.  He always had the right words and made everyone feel better.  He spoke out against sin and prayed for the repentant who would visit his church office.  He served communion to them, baptized them and wept with them.  Now his son is gone.

Today he tries in vain to comfort his wife of many years.  She shares his pain as she has shared his ministry all this time.  She had written many sympathy cards to parishioners and get-well cards to the sick.  She has served meals to help poor families and swallowed her pride countless times for the sake of her family.  Today she is stranded on an island and her husband is on one also.  She can see him, but his touch is too far away to comfort her.  They are alone and sick, and now will carry the disease we will call “suicide affliction” for the rest of their lives.

The church and community is also in mourning and disbelief.  Their words of comfort are appreciated but will never bring their boy back.  He went an a journey that only he and God knows where to.  The church folk talk about the tragedy around the dinner table and their children hear their commentary.  Some say he’s in Hell.  Some say he was deranged and God will have mercy.  Some say it was his parents’ fault because the preacher was too strict or maybe a hypocrite.  Young ears remember these words.  They begin to understand that for others the issue at hand was failure and someone needs to be blamed.  Someone should pay.  This is so wrong; who can make it right?  They are scared, confused and angry.  The seeds are planted, let’s just hope they don’t find fertile soil down in their hearts.

There is a pattern with us that points back to our sin nature: cowardice.  Those parents would never say those words to the family of the deceased, but behind their backs they enjoy free speech.  Have you noticed that no one in their right mind ever really says things unless he or she is joined by others in agreement?  This is why gossip, slander and back-biting are so popular.  Take a look at facebook rants: these are what is in the heart of someone sitting alone behind their keyboard with no one physically present.  The same is true for angry letters-to-the-editor in newspapers.  Why do suicidal people and school shooters post what they intend to do in a dark corner somewhere where no one can stop them?

Cowardice has met anger– extreme anger pent up for years and pushed down by society, the media, the government, religion, science and you-name-it.  A suicidal person has one thing on their mind: this is all I see, therefore that is all there is.  What they see is a darkness: a deep hole that cannot be climbed out of.  Life makes no sense and they get rid of it.  They have believed the ultimate lie: life is worthless.

The rest of the world keeps on going, spinning fear into the hearts of our youth.  The barrage of hate, evil, selfishness, greed and lies, lies, lies comes raining down like arrows in a medieval epic battle through the mouths and keyboards of people who are self-proclaimed experts on life.  Our children try new things to combat this but everything they pick up is tainted with the curse: from their video games to their vegan lives, nothing is protecting them from the vile world we live in.

So we pretend.  Why? We’re cowards too.  We pretend that guns will save us, and we pretend that guns are the problem.  We pretend that politics will save us, and we pretend that politics are the problem.  We pretend that a strong military is the answer, and we pretend that the military is the problem.  We blame drugs, alcohol, race, sex, schools, prisons, religion, food, medicine and everything we can think of except ourselves.  It is always someone else, or something else that is to blame.

But if there we no person around to pick up the gun it wouldn’t have happened.  If there were no person around to find the syringe, find the liquor, prescribe the medicine, none of this would have happened.  Of course not.  How ridiculous.

This young man who took his life may have considered all the options but behaving himself was not one of them.  In his mind the problem surrounded him, but the problem was actually within.  This is an option that few consider: I need to get things straight and own my problems like a man.  I must fix this or else I will hurt the people I love.

Behind all the lies and behind all the trouble are ten simple rules, that hinge on two larger ones: Love God with all your heart and love your neighbor as yourself.  If you love God you won’t have any other gods in your life (just like a pure marriage); you will keep His Sabbath, you will not blaspheme His name and you won’t make images to worship (like porno, for instance, just in case you think we are too advanced for idol worship).

Then the last six commands are about how to love your neighbor, starting with honor your mother and father; don’t kill your neighbor, don’t lie to your neighbor, don’t steal from your neighbor, don’t covet your neighbor’s things, and keep your eyes and hands off your neighbor’s spouse.  These are meant for me to observe and keep to the best of my ability.  Do I fail? Yes.  But God also tells me why: I am a sinner and sinners fail regularly.  So I must stay in touch with God regularly, repent of dumb things I do and move on to improvement.  Improvement for me, my family, my community, my church, and my Country.

In the meantime we must do our best to help people like this pastor and his wife.  Their whole world has just fallen to pieces.  No one should talk of their failures (we all have them).  No one should try to judge the young man’s eternal destiny (though you may be right about it).  Words are very powerful. Be careful how you use them.  They can heal and they can hurt.  We’re made in the image of God according to the Bible.  God created by speaking.  Jesus rose Lazarus by speaking.  God will judge the world by speaking and only He has the right to do so.  You and I have His Word.  Pay attention to it, revere and obey it. You may be the only Bible some will ever read.

O God how the world needs you today.  Forgive our rejection of You and your ways.  Allow your mercy to fall upon us one more day.  You alone are our only hope.


A Hole In One

Out he went with his dream to make the changes

And strapped to his waist was the old 45.

The star he wore was made of tin but his heart was gold

And from that heart his dream stayed alive.

But on that day when the sun stood still and the birds ceased their song

He drew that old black powder Colt a millisecond too long.

Oh it discharged a chunk of lead alright, about 250 grain,

But after one small ricochet it landed in his brain.

The whole town mourned for weeks and weeks o’er the grave up on boot hill,

“Here lies the man with heart of gold, and head with leaden pill.”

He may have been right you know, his heart and all that stuff,

But being the fastest draw in the West does not mean you’re so tuff.

He should made the ones he loved a safe place for to lodge,

Instead he spent his days in the sheriffs office in the the city they call “Dodge”.

Dodge he did, all his life, the bullets, cursings, kids and wife.

He was was known for keeping law, but his home was always absent, “Paw”.



What To Do With Your Life

We are a race of gifted people throwing away our greatest blessings.  Like giving an exotic diamond to a baby who only wants to chew on it, swallow it and then deposit it in his diaper.  He grows throughout life never remembering the precious gift he wasted during infancy.  Along he goes finding ways to survive as he swims through his cultural swamp only to die with nothing, the same thing he came into life with.  Had he only the capacity to understand the value he was handed in that exotic stone, he would have been so much better off today, all grown up.

That’s us you see:  born into a race that has forgotten the rich heritage that belongs to them.  Spiritual amnesiacs putting great value on things that perish rather than investing their God-given riches into life.  Paying our athletes obscene salaries and accolades to entertain us as we stuff ourselves with false pride of a team that could care less about us.  This is why we watch the “elite” give each other golden awards for best actor, best writer, best dressed (or under-dressed), and most likely to go places.

We are convinced that becoming like them is a wonderful thing, so we buy their make-up, weight-loss plans, books and movies while feeding on corn-chips in front of some screen waiting for the next big thing to impress us. We serve an employer or lay-hold of public assistance to support our love affair with overpaid, unhappy, unworthy people who themselves have a bad habit of leading miserable lives, yet we watch them day-in and day-out.  We want to be them but  we cannot because they model a media-generated life of falseness that we were never meant to be in the first place.

As we dance with death with every lost heartbeat we waste away a second at a time, never reaching the lofty things we have been created for.  God’s image has been replaced with the face of a human make-over, covering the failing bodies and aging faces of our idols.  Our being cries out for help so we sedate it with an opium that promises “better days ahead.”

The best day however is today.  It is the day you can start exerting your energies on things that are profitable to yourself and all those whose lives you influence.  Decide first the value of yourself:

1Peter 1:18, 19 For you know what was paid to set you free from the worthless manner of life handed down by your ancestors. It was not something that can be destroyed, such as silver or gold;19 it was the costly sacrifice of Christ, who was like a lamb without defect or flaw. (GNB)

Scriptures reveal that while we spend our time pursuing things that pass away, that God spent everything to set us free to be everything He intended for us to be. So if we are ever going to pull away from the gravity of the death star of human failure, we must come to grips with just how valuable we are to God.  Maybe you believe putting your faith in Christ will consume your opportunities to find more pleasure and success in life, but before you return to this belief consider the cost of such a philosophy.

Mark 8:35-37 For if you want to save your own life, you will lose it; but if you lose your life for me and for the gospel, you will save it. 36 Do you gain anything if you win the whole world but lose your life? Of course not! 37 There is nothing you can give to regain your life. (GNB)

Jesus was saying here that the energy man exerts in earthly investments will be lost (there’s physical proof for this), and once your life is spent you cannot get it back.  However if you will simply give your life back to God, through the sum paid by His Son, your life is now valuable again and that value cannot be lost because you gave it to God.

This gets better: although your life is God’s possession you still get to live it to the fullest here on earth, while you await your reception in Heaven when the threshold of death finally comes your way.  That’s right you are still you, though God’s property, and now you get the chance to truly invest in a future that will not pass away when your body does.  You do not have to play the game everyone else does.  It’s okay to be who God created you to be, especially when you live for Him!

Your artistic ability, technical skill, creative thought-life, and physical abilities are usable and on display to bring Him glory and bring you the joy of living.  Plus, as you mature in your life with God He gives you gifts that enhance your life in Christ.  Life is no longer about you, it’s about God.  The old you who tried to mimic and adore false gods and frivolous ways of living are now replaced by adoring God Himself and emanating Jesus.

What have you got to lose?  Pride for one.  That will have to go.  The reception of Christ in your life means agreeing that you are a sinner (just like me).  Along the way you will learn more about the things that displease God and will have to go also.  God is gracious though and has given us better things than sin to replace our old ways of living.  He replaces promiscuity with faithful relationships.  He replaces hatred with learning how to love.  He forgives us for the lies we told and lived in, and patiently teaches us how to be more truthful.  Most of all He gives us all the grace we need to be what He intended for us to be.

You may have watched Christianity and saw something that you did not like.  Truth be told: Christianity and Christ are not the same thing.  Christianity amounts to a religion that is modeled differently from group-to-group and place-to-place.  All who embrace the Christian religion are not always true Christians.  Like the human race we vary in ways that make us different from others because of our surroundings.  So if you enter a church building in California, you will likely experience something different than in Calcutta, but this has no bearing on what it means to be a follower of Christ.

When Christ comes for you at the end of life, you will shed everything that was physically yours in this world, and that includes your membership at First Presbyterian Church.  Yet, everything you have become for Christ, and everything you have done in the name of Christ will be waiting for us when we reach Heaven.  Let God lead you in your life in Christ.  Eventually, you will find yourself a place of worship with other Believers, but the throne of your heart is where true worship comes from.  Let God sit on that Throne.

So what about your life?  Must you be like everyone else? Or is there a passion within to be what you were created to be?  The beauty and genius of who you are is wrapped up in knowing God has placed great value on you. Don’t waste your life.  Give it to God.


Good Words From My Wife, Susan


Below is a great Facebook post my wife wrote yesterday.  Like & Share!

Give ear to my tale of a boy in his youth, and a giant quite fearsome, a big old galoot! The young lad had brothers, and was bringing some lunch, a request by his father who was worried a bunch! With two nations at war, a reputation at stake, up walked the giant a challenge to make. Over 9 ft. tall all covered in armor, trepidation and fear were all he could garner. That giant he roared and taunted and gestured, defying God’s army his words how they festered. Men big and strong all ran in fright, for Goliath the giant was a daunting sight. But David, quite small, had faith in his God, he knew although bested, his God would stand tested. He picked up 5 stones, along with his sling, and started toward Goliath, intending to fling. Goliath came cursing and flailing about, “Am I but a dog!” he shouted right out! But David didn’t waver, his faith was so strong, “I fight in the name of our God!” was his song. He took out a stone with a heave it was cast, down came the giant defeated at last. Then with a great shout the Philistines they flew, with Israelites behind them, their courage renewed. The God of the Israelites had not let them down, the battle was His then, and surely is now. For David faced many giants throughout his days, he grew tired and discouraged in so many ways. But each giant he faced, each time he would doubt, he would remember Goliath, remember his shout. The bigger the giants the harder they fall, but tumble they will when on God we do call.

David did face many giants in his lifetime. King Saul’s incessant attempts to kill him, the loss of his first born son, and his best friend Jonathan, betrayal by his son Absalom, and battles galore. Unknown to many, David and his army also fought four more literal giants as recorded in 2nd Samuel 21: Ishbi-benob, Saph, the brother of Goliath, and a giant with 6 fingers on each hand, and 6 toes on each foot. He sang a mighty song of victory to his faithful God after those battles in 2nd Samuel 22.

Read This

Read this because you’re the type of person who appreciates writing. Go ahead and share it and recommend it to someone else who is kinda like you.  You know who I mean: the guy who hides behind the screen he writes on;  The girl who is secretly depressed and agitated about how small they feel in such a big writing community with its own stars.  Those people who are repulsed at the actors, writers and pontifical people who pat each other on the back with golden awards for who shines brightest.

Yup.  We cower in their shadows as they go on to fame and fortune while all you want to do is be heard and appreciated.  Don’t be disappointed, you are who you are and your work is your work no matter how the rest of the world responds to you and it. Keep creating and writing for it is an extension of yourself and you are valuable.

There’s a portion of us who think we have answers to difficult questions.  Some of us like to tell the world where we have been.  Others like to share their knowledge and accomplishments.  The reason we do is we are created ourselves, and the work of One who also desires to be noticed and appreciated.  Yet, He doesn’t need any of us to survive. He doesn’t survive at all, instead He is Life and Life is self-existent in and of Himself.  We have been told we are created in His image, so we are very much like Him, but corrupted by a sick, self-absorbed role model called “humanity.”

Some years ago a song written by a favorite artist caught my attention:

Through The Glass Darkly

I heard God was at the Palace doing a one night stand
So I went out there to see Him with my hope in my hand
He was just a boy of fifteen without much to say
And when he started signing autographs I walked away

I was standing on a corner by the marketplace
When a fellow with some leaflets shoved one right in my face
Well he poked me with His Bible like it was a loaded gun
And I said whatever it is you’re selling man I don’t want none

All our superstar are suicidal casualties
And our heroes die in motel rooms and motorcades
Oh it seems like all out dreams are only fantasies
And I wonder if we’ll learn from the mistakes we’ve made

I bumped into Mr. Jimi at a London hotel
And he said let’s get together but he didn’t look well
When I woke up in the morning all the papers read
Jimi Hendrix overdosed last night in bed

All our superstar are suicidal casualties
And our heroes die in motel rooms and motorcades
Oh it seems like all out dreams turn into tragedies
And i wonder if we’ll learn from the mistakes we’ve made

Now I’m waiting at the bus stop for the bus to arrive
And I know there must be more to life than staying alive
Well I don’t know where I’m going when I climb in
But it can’t be any emptier than where I’ve been

     Ah, yes.  Randy has nailed it.  The world looks to super-stars that always become falling stars.  We give them our ears, eyes, time and money.  We sit on the edge of our seats waiting for the next movie surprised to find out that one of the stars had to be computer generated because they perished due to reckless living.  Instead of learning from their mistakes we make them gods and goddesses.  We continue to worship at the throne of popular opinion rather than truth.
     Some of us have drawn back.  We know we are failures and keep working so others do not make the same mistakes.  We want to share the beauty of life, the wonderful & limited gift we all share in this world.
     Some have plumbed the depths and reached for beyond the stars;  some have looked inward a far as the microscope will allow and have drawn two diverse conclusions: 1) Mankind is an amazing cosmic mystery having chance as it’s origin, and we are progressing toward perfection, or 2) Mankind is the creative result of  Divine Artist and we fail to see His signature in ourselves, and hence are degenerating.
     While the media continues to generate myths and legends out of humans with smoke and mirrors, let’s continue to create the reality of life and artistry at it’s best.  Hopefully, we will be able to give the greatest worship and accolades to the One who made us this way.
     I know you may not agree with my conclusions and that is okay.  You may feel all alone in your work and believe no one understands.  Let me challenge you to have another look.  The world with its hard work and coldness has grandeur and beauty.  Stop often and be amazed.  Tell us about it.  We already know about the hatred, the death, the sickness, and degradation.  Paint your world with the Creator’s heart in mind.  Find Him and you will find faith, hope and love.  Do you really need anything else?



From Here On…

Just another day you say?  I suppose for those who expect to live to see tomorrow, they can say that.  But I died, and if you’re like me today isn’t all there is.  But “here” is exactly where I am and ever since my death I have been so glad that I am here.

See, before when I was alive all I had was the moment with no guarantee I would see the next.  I would just go on living like others: doing what they do because it is what everyone does; hearing what they hear because they like to hear it; and searching, yes, ever searching to feel good, look good, be seen as one who was admired, or at the least, appreciated.

Although this sort of thing comes with the approval of almost everyone else it is simply a waste of a life meant to be unique.  Instead this day-to-day living like everyone else winds up kind of like a water jug with a hole in the bottom: fill it up and it just runs out the bottom and needs to be refilled again & again.  Madness is all it is.

The day I saw my death approaching was years ago.  I saw Jesus on the cross: wounded for my transgressions, bruised for my iniquities, chastised for my lack of peace, and scourged for my healing. Two men died that day because Jesus took me with Him up there on that cross.  He gave me His life for mine.  So I died.  He however lives in me.

Now make no mistake.  The old me keeps trying to resurrect.  Living sacrifices keep crawling off the altar.  I look around and see everyone else having things like everyone else.  I see the parties, the extravagant living, the physiques bought by hours of training, and whitetail heads mounted above the fireplaces.  I want to have them too.  But they are not mine unless my Savior wants them.

Sound attractive?  No, you probably don’t think so.  But what I have is nonexchangeable for what lies ahead now that I am dead.  Everyone wants to go to Heaven but no one wants to die.  I hear you.  You think I believe I am better than you.  I am not, I just gave up on the call of the world.

I have a family on loan to me, a church that endures me, some tools and equipment that I will leave here when I officially cross over.  I would like to take you along when I go, but that decision you must make on your own.  God has forgiven all our sins; He has prepared a place for those who give their lives to Him. You just have to receive Him and let Him live the life He died to save: yours.

“He is no fool he gives up what he cannot keep, to gain what he can never lose.”

Jim Elliot

“I am the way, the truth and the life; no man comes to the Father, but by me”

Jesus Christ


Giving & Receiving


He was stubborn and did not want a visit.  He had a large stage four tumor in his throat and cancer had spread to other organs.  His wife and family had prayed for him to turn to God but he wanted nothing to do with Him. How can you reach a guy like Jim who has his roots in religion but does not want God to save him?

One day his daughter posted on facebook that he could really use a ramp to get out to his appointments.  I said to my wife, “I can build a ramp, I will take a drive-by and see what the porch looks like.”  I thought I had found their house, but wasn’t sure it was the right place, so I pulled my bike into the driveway and snooped around until I was embarrassed to think someone may see me and call the police.

Reluctantly I wrapped on the door & was received by his hopeful wife when she saw the pastor’s face.  There he sat, a shadow of life still within him.  “Jim,” I said, “I heard you need a ramp & I’d like to put one out there for ya.” His wife then explained he found out today he was going on hospice care and would not need a ramp, for he would not be leaving the house anymore.

He was given three months to live.  I asked if I could pray for him & he agreed happily.  Before I began I asked him if he planned on going to Heaven when he died, He answered, “I sure hope so.”  I said, “Jim, this sort of thing you can know for sure.  The Gospel message is very simple to understand and receive: We are all sinners, Jesus died for our sins, took them into the grave and left them there, then He rose from the dead to give eternal life to all who believe in him.”  His face lit up.  I then prayed & left thinking I would be back soon, not wanting to be too pushy.  After some light conversation I went on my way praying what I said made some sense.

Thirty six hours later I received a call from an in-law that Jim had passed away in his sleep.  My heart sunk.  At 8am I reluctantly called his widow.  However, she answered the phone with a note of joy in her voice. “Pastor, after you left the hospice case worker showed up.  She asked many questions and one was about what church Jim belonged to. He told her he didn’t want anyone from his church, he wanted Pastor Ferd (me!).  After she left, he asked me about how my father was baptized when he came to faith; so I explained how you would do that…”  Jim found Christ as Savior just before he died!

That week we had a Christian burial from our church with many unsaved folk hearing the Gospel message.  Had he died a week before, none of this would have happened.  Jim had enough faith to be saved even though he never stepped into the water.  Like the thief on the cross, that day he was with Jesus.

Never second guess what god can do with your toolbox, with your pen, or with your knitting needles.  A man is in glory because I wanted to build him a ramp.

The Things We Die For


1John 2:15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world–the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions–is not from the Father but is from the world. 17 And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever. (ESV)

Growing up in church my Pastor would always mention the temptations of the world.  By the time I was a teen I was pretty sure they fit into a nice category of things to avoid.  They were premarital sex, alcoholic beverages, tobacco, movies and rock and roll music.  Although I was attracted by all of these, the list of things made Christianity kind of easy: keep track of the things to avoid, repent if you fail, go to Heaven in the end.

I admit that there were times God caught me listening to Uriah Heep while chewing Red Man, and then my buddy got a job in the movie theater and I could get in for free, so I wasn’t giving Hollywood my money the day I went to see Rocky (yes, I’m that old).  Somehow I managed to avoid things I shouldn’t do before wedlock, but close enough to condemn me.  Perhaps the ladies didn’t appreciate listening to Magician’s Birthday while I spat out the drivers window.  Go figure.

Then one day the lights went on.  I was not living the life of a Christian.  I committed my life to Christ and began a journey that I am still on at my ripe old age of over-the-hill.  However, I learned that giving up worldly things was not so easy anymore.  The rule of thumb became “what glorifies my Savior?” instead of “What must I give up?” Strange, but true: Christianity was no longer about losing things, but gaining admiration for my Lord.

Studying Scriptures like the one above reveals some amazing things.  First, the word “love” is the kind of love that is given, not felt.  Agape means a self-sacrificing love for the sake of someone else.  This means I should no longer sacrifice myself for the things of this world, but rather for the coming Kingdom.  So, in retrospect I did not have to make categories of things to lose, but rather I should no longer give up my life for the things the world offers me.  My life has been given to a much higher cause & Kingdom to come.

Sadly, I lost some things in my earlier years that were not necessary.  One was the respect of unsaved friends who saw me simply as religious rather than Christian.  They knew I had religion because I didn’t drink and my choice of bad words were limited to the ones my Dad said when he hit his thumb with a hammer.  Eventually I told them I was no longer going to be hanging out with them because of my religious convictions.  They had reached the age where going to the club was vogue and I would not go.  How much better it would have been If I kept their acquaintance by doing the things we still could do as friends (hunting, fishing, fixing up a car, etc…).  Instead I chose to completely separate myself from them & today some of them have died without Christ.  Live and learn.

The world taunts us with fame, money, property, esteem, sports, even deer season.  The list is endless.  God has not asked us to give up living in the world, just dying for it.  Today I don’t listen to Uriah Heep, but I am not convicted if I turn up the radio on a classic rock station.  I don’t chew anymore, but if I was challenged to “chew or die” I would be looking for a place to spit.  I know the temptations because, like my Lord, who was tempted in every way just like us, they meet us when our eyes open in the morning.

I am free to serve God while living in this world.  I do not please Him with my political party selection, my bowling average, nor how many points my buck had.  He doesn’t care if my hair is short or long, or if I wear a tie or do not.  All these things will vanish one day.  But the human soul?  It will live forever.  This is where we should invest our effort.

Matthew 16:26 For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?

There are some things worth dying for.  Give your life to Christ & give Christ to your neighbor.  Enjoy the world while you live here, do it for the sake of Christ.  Give up what you must, but do not give in to religion without a Savior who liberates you from the things the world imprisons you with.  Jesus saves.  Let’s be sure what this means.  Our time here is limited.  Learn the language, speak to the natives, share Jesus, & love your neighbor.





We are having special meetings at our church this week featuring a missionary friend who takes churches on short-term mission trips all over the world.  A great deal of these trips are within the states helping other ministries that struggle to reach their goal of getting the Gospel out to the neighborhood.  Usually somewhere in the hills of the south fixing plumbing, digging wells and helping with construction while at the same time doing a Bible School or some sort of out-reach to the community.

I went on one of these trips a few years ago to the beautiful city of Columbus Ohio.  Beneath the grandeur of its facade Columbus hides many, many homeless, many prostitutes, and drug runners who are living in hallways and dumpsters.  I remember doing street meetings for children where we first invited them by going door-to-door and offering them, believe it or not: light bulbs.

The homes in the district we ministered to were often “single light bulb homes” where they were so impoverished that they had just one light bulb that they removed and took with them from room-to-room.  Until visiting Columbus I thought my town was poor.  I thought I was poverty level.  I thought I was the least of these.  I am not.

On every level I among the world’s richest people.  I have running water, I have a shower, I have a closet full of clothes, a fridge full of food, children, grandchildren, family, heat in the winter, a roof that doesn’t leak, two or more vehicles, health insurance, over 100 TV channels, internet service, tools, gadgets galore, and the mot wonderful wife.  Yet, I complain regularly.

To top off my list of riches I have a Savior and a place prepared for me where He is.  My Wife and children also have this luxury and I feel so secure knowing this.

Why then does it matter to me that professional athletes who generate 100 times what I make (to play a game) do not stand for the National Anthem?  Why does it matter that taxes continue to rise and the “wealthy” are exempt?  Why does it matter me and people like me may get ridiculed a bit because we believe in Jesus?  Why does it matter that our health insurance premium keeps rising, yet others who do not work get it free?  Why does it matter that some overpaid actor gets more attention and money than the entire town that I live in?

“Why” is keeping people from faith in Christ.  “Why” is rolling off the lips of everyone who sees social injustice as the biggest thing since __________.  It’s not.  There has always been social injustices, and our Country does not lead the world in creating them.  We may have our problems, but we also have opportunities.  You and I are not guaranteed these opportunities but they are there nonetheless.

Positive changes take time and work.  Complaints do not.  The changes we need in the world start with me.  You do what you like, I am going to work at changing things one at a time, and I am the first one to change.  I will make mistakes, you may not like me, but I will be far ahead of the guy who thinks that the government is going to fix things while he carries a sign on Pennsylvania Avenue.

Next time you change a light bulb in your home remember that somewhere in one of the most beautiful cities there is a single, abused mother, connected to a system that will not allow her the luxury of having what you now hold in your hand: a working light bulb.  That bulb is a temporary luxury that will not last.  She needs a fix that goes beyond saving the whales, the trees, the feral cats and rescued dogs.  She does not think about the ozone layer, or missiles in North Korea.  She thinks about how to make it through til tomorrow.  She thinks about making it one more day.  She waits for the rescue to open so her kids can eat again.  Like us, she will die (probably sooner).  Then, there is a living soul that spends her eternity somewhere.  Where?

Isn’t that a more important question than “Why”?  I live and work where I do fully sustained by the goodness of God and I don’t know why.  But I do know where.  If you’re reading this and you know where, I encourage you to stop asking why, and start pointing to Christ, who promised those who believe in Him, that when they die, they would be with Him.  To have faith in Christ: that He died for our sins, that he took them to the grave, and that He resurrected, is to believe that there is a home beyond this world waiting for us.  A place without poverty and social injustice.  A place of light and eternal life.

You can trust the government to revive things (a very poor record by the way), or you can trust an overthrow of the system (more mayhem), you can numb your brain so the hurt seems to go away, or you can experience true revival by investing in what Jesus bought for us.  You may think I am simple & you are right.  But I know that survival and revival are two completely different things that come from different worlds.  Survive if you must, but you really need to live, not just survive.

John 11:25,26: Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?”


NEW PEOPLE GROUP DISCOVERED: Uncultured & Pagan Practices

You may have heard of this, but in case you have not I’d like to share the way a certain obscure people group behave during the harvest season.  Missions organizations have been studying this phenomenal behavior pattern for years.

At the end of the year while everyone else has been working hard to support their families, the tribesmen from various villages throughout the land appoint certain aspiring young warriors to something mysteriously attractive to all the men folk.  These warriors train all year, buffeting their bodies to the point of exhaustion in order to participate in the season long contest.

Once this ritual begins, the women take care of all the chores and duties of the home until the men are satisfied with the tribal outcome of victory.  The men gather in huge crowds to watch the young warriors clash for at least two hours until the ritual ends.  Bloodied and bruised they meet again and again until the strongest tribe finally wins, but this is not settled in a few days; this takes months to decide.

There are colorful garments and headdresses the warriors wear that make them appear fierce and larger than life.  The men from the villages line the area wearing similar colors of the warriors depicting their tribes.  Faces are painted and some will paint their whole torso in bright colors as they shout for their warriors.  Some have tattooed themselves with tribal designs which they will wear for life.

A word about these warriors:  They are rewarded handsomely for their service and are not expected to do anything else in the tribe except participate in the ritual.  Although the rest of the tribesmen work hard and long hours, they gladly turn over large gifts that cost them days or even weeks worth of wages.  There are rulers among the tribes, but few of them, even their military men, are as rich as the warriors of the ritual.

Now the strangeness of this is that the winning tribe appoints a certain man to take an animal skin bladder filled with air and move it past the other warriors while he is severely attacked by the opposing warriors.  He is defended by his own tribal warriors, but is often unsuccessful and sometimes physically injured.  For this reason many of the warriors do not make it past their 30’s before they are replaced by younger men.  If the man makes it past the other tribes, he then appoints another to kick the bladder over a tall slender altar at the end of the field, which must mean, he offers the win to the gods of the tribes.

Some believe this game was handed down by aliens from whom the tribes may have been birthed.  There are often voices heard and bright lights observed during this ritual war that seem to come from nowhere.  So perhaps this belief has some credibility, but it is not likely.  There are also what appear to be women dedicated to the tribal gods who encourage their warriors with chants that seem to excite some of the village men even more than the ritual itself.

All of this seems so puzzling to us but makes complete sense to them.  The crowds of people scream and chant as the ritual goes on, week after week until a tribe claims the trophy:  A silver idol elongated and on a small stand.  Anthropologists are beginning to believe it is the very shape of the alien’s head that birthed this people group.  We of course believe it represents the hopelessness of this people group.  We need to reach them, they are obviously lost.

A word to the wise:  What we have observed in our studies is strangely attractive, especially to the men who did the study.  We encourage you not to get involved in the barbaric activity of these tribesmen, nor support the actions of those who observe the ritual as they are uncultured an unlearned.  We who have progressed know better than to involve ourselves in such paganism.

(this is an allegory, just sayin; intended for fun)