In 2 Timothy 2:3-7 of our Bibles, Christ-followers are encouraged to develop qualities found in three groups of people. “Endure hardship with us like a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No one serving as a soldier gets involved in civilian affairs—he wants to please his commanding officer. Similarly, if anyone competes as an athlete, he does not receive the victor’s crown unless he competes according to the rules. The hardworking farmer should be the first to receive a share of the crops. Reflect on what I am saying, for the Lord will give you insight into all this.” Here are some of my thoughts.
Soldiers are a critical asset to any national defense. I wasn’t in the military so I asked my brother-in-law for insight. He has protected our nation as a Marine and protected our communities as a police officer throughout his adult life. He shared that soldiers undergo regular intense repetitive training sessions. Continue reading
On March 23, 1775, 244 years ago, Patrick Henry delivered one of the most famous speeches in American history. While some of his words are still familiar today, many Americans are unaware of the turbulent times preceding his celebrated address.
In the 1760s, Parliament passed numerous laws directly violating the rights of the colonists, including the Sugar Act (1764), the Stamp Act (1765), and many others. Patrick Henry, a member of the Virginia House of Burgesses, was one of many who objected. When the Stamp Act was repealed in 1766, the joy was so widespread that a Boston minister preached a notable sermon celebrating the event! Continue reading
Was there an underlying lesson I was to learn from the nursery rhyme, “Three Blind Mice?” Was there a significant message other than learning that mice scare farmers’ wives and get their tails cut off with butchers’ knives? I don’t know, but it did make me think of three men in the Bible who were “blind” to the temptations before them.
The first “blind mouse” was David. He was the most spiritual man alive. God, Himself, calls David “a man after My own heart.” Over one hundred of his songs are recorded in the Old Testament book of Psalms. We are told in 2 Samuel 11:1 that David sent his army out, but instead of going with them, he stayed home in Jerusalem. From his palace balcony he saw Bathsheba showering. Instead of looking away, he lusted after her and eventually committed adultery with her. David’s blind pursuit into sin led to tragic consequences for his family. Continue reading
It’s March and the 17th will be Saint Patrick’s Day. This is a day most kids associate with wearing green, so that they do not get pinched by relentless siblings or scheming peers, cutting out shamrocks and four-leaf clovers, and drawing leprechauns with rainbows and pots of gold. Like many once-religious holidays, it is often in the United States viewed as an opportunity to party, a holiday for a few good pints of Guinness, and a dinner of shepherd’s pie or corned beef hash. But why do we celebrate this Irish holiday in our country?
Maybe it is time to look into the historic reasons behind our holidays. For instance, do any of us really know much about who Cupid is besides a cherubic-looking being with a quiver and arrows, most often seen on Victorian-styled Valentine cards and old ladies’ bathroom wallpaper? In February, you might have looked into the myth of how Cupid was the son of Roman goddess Venus and god Mars. He was sent on a mission by his mother to do a little evil matchmaking on princess Psyche. The events, in good mythological fashion, took an ironic turn and Cupid fell in love with Psyche. The story goes on but the point is one of our Continue reading
Greed, unrestrained ambition, arrogance, pride, revenge, rage, and ruthlessness. Sounds like the evening news. I found them in the Bible’s short book of Esther. An orphaned Jewish girl raised by her cousin Mordecai [more-dah-kie], Esther becomes queen of Persia about five centuries before Christ.
Haman is the villain of the story. He is a narcissistic man who craves the honor of others. When Mordecai doesn’t express honor or fear, Haman is outraged. Learning that Mordecai is a Jew, he hatches a plot to annihilate every Jew throughout the Persian empire. (Haman was the Hitler of his time.)
Mordecai encourages Esther to ask the king to rescue her people. He reminds her that God placed her in the position of queen for just “such a time as this.” Esther knows that approaching the king without being invited can result in death, so she calls for every Jew in the city to fast for three days and Continue reading
There was a large expanse of green, well maintained lawn, recently mowed. In the background was a building three stories high that almost covered the width of the property. It had all the architectural features of a building that was constructed in the 30’s. As it turned out it was built in 1938 as a home for the elderly. Attractive and inviting even for a large building.
I grabbed the front door knob but it was locked. To the left was a door bell. I looked through a metal grill protecting a glass enclosure and rang the bell. They spotted me and let me in. Security is important.
After brief introductions I was escorted to a conference room upstairs. As I passed several rooms I noticed an odd device on the floor—beige in color, about the size of a small round soup pan with a wire coming out the back and going under the door. Some doors had two or more on the floor. Curiosity sparked my interest. What are these things? Turns out they are noise devices so you can’t listen into conversations on the other side of the door. Confidentiality is very important. Continue reading
Philip Yancey, a writer I often appreciate, wrote an article about his own struggle to carve out focused attention for reading, and how his own personal experience reflects our culture at large. The decline in reading books is something I feel strongly about, as those who aren’t dedicated readers most likely won’t be dedicated readers of God’s Word.
Here’s an excerpt from Yancey’s article:
I am going through a personal crisis. I used to love reading. I am writing this blog in my office, surrounded by 27 tall bookcases laden with some 5,000 books. Over the years I have read them, marked them up, and recorded the annotations in a computer database for potential references in my writing. To a large degree, they have formed my professional and spiritual life. Continue reading
One of the amazing examples of Creator God’s handiwork is on display in Garden of the Gods Park in Colorado Springs, Colorado. It is called “Balanced Rock.” I grew up about 80 miles from there. On occasional day trips to the area, we always stopped to admire this huge rock that seemed to have so little foundation under it.
As a child, I viewed it as a statement about the wonder of nature. Today, it reminds me of the balance in God’s nature as displayed in all of His Creation. A quick review of the first two chapters of Genesis reminds us of the wonder of a universe filled with balance and Planet Earth as a balanced environment.
The Garden of Eden was filled with balance. The two humans who lived there did not try to dominate one another. All of the animals got along – there was no evidence of death. One can imagine how different life would be on this planet today if that pattern had continued. Continue reading
My wife and I live a short distance east of Portland, Oregon, at the west end of the Gorge. The Gorge is a canyon that follows the Columbia River along the northern border of Oregon. It is not uncommon during the winter to get sustained wind speeds of 20 miles per hour, with gusts registering 40 miles an hour or more blasting down the Gorge. And the winds are cold. We also have windy days during the summer, but at least they’re warm.
Solomon was a king of Israel around 1000 BC. His advice is recorded in the book of Ecclesiastes [ee-cleez’-ee-ast’-eez] in the Bible. He was genius-level intelligent and very wealthy. His insatiable thirst for knowledge led him to become an expert in a variety of subjects, from botany to zoology. He wrote over one thousand songs. He designed buildings, parks, vineyards, and trading ships. He enjoyed fancy parties and the finest entertainment. Nothing was beyond his reach. Continue reading
Here in the Northwest we’ve had a relatively mild winter. While the eastern two-thirds of our country has been brutally blasted with cold air and snow blizzards from the north, we’ve been spared. We had a short stint of snow, nothing like those other cities, but still enough to wreak havoc for motorists. Typically, the towns further east into the Gorge have it worse, with I-84 often shutting down for days on end, but on the west end, we’re back to rain. Up higher in the mountains, the ski resorts are excited for the February snows that are falling. They promise to bring more skiers, snowboarders, and tubers to the mountains and to their businesses.
One thing you’ve often heard from friends visiting our area from another part of the country is their amazement that we have so many trees and everything seems so green. Continue reading