What do Johnny Carson and Pontius Pilate have in common? (Hint: It’s not Nebraska.) Carson gained fame hosting “Who Do You Trust.” Pilate secured his place in history by asking Jesus, “What is truth?”
Precious, lifelong relationships are taking sides on various issues, risking collapse. Is resolution possible? The psalmist wrote, “There is nothing a good person can do when everything falls apart. The Lord … watches people everywhere and knows what they are doing.”
Is ours an honest quest for truth? Jesus declares, “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life.” Not “What is truth” -- the real question is “Who is Truth?”
What’s your answer?
“You will know the Truth, and the Truth will set you free.” John 8:32
It’s getting dicey to distinguish between what's real and what isn’t. Why even “artificial intelligence” is no longer an oxymoron!
Some folks claim they’ve been to heaven and back. But has anybody ever been to hell and back? Yuma, yes, but hell, no.
Are angels and demons really duking it out in the skies all around us? C’mon, Jonah actually survived a cruise in a whale’s belly? Spleen that! And are we to believe that the sea cleared a dry path for millions of refugees to flee Egypt? Then there’s the “miracle” of feeding thousands out of one kid’s happy meal. Oh, and the biggest stretch of all – God is born in a baby’s body, thanks to divine intervention, is crucified, escapes the tomb and goes back to heaven, promising to return and take His followers to be forever with Him.
Preposterous? Sure, if you use human logic to explain the supernatural. Could it be that what we lack to close this gap is FAITH? The kind of faith which comes only as a gift, not a reward. Have you unwrapped your gift of faith?
“For it is by God's grace that you have been saved through faith. It is not the result of your own efforts, but God's gift, so that no one can boast about it.” Ephesians 2:8
It happens twice a year. The day after New Year’s Day. And the day after Labor Day.
Our self-talk goes like this: “No more pizza and frozen yogurt for you, Slim. No TV binges. It’s time to get serious.” Back to work, back to school, back to the steady drumbeat of the rhythms of real life, aka normal.
But is normal high on your list of pleasurable pursuits? Are you relieved when you return to those, old familiar ruts? Or do you grit your teeth and “Just Do It?”
With your trust firmly secured to the Rock, Christ Jesus, those well-worn ruts of routine can become well-lit paths of peace. At this point in your life is this your experience? Seriously?
“Listen to Me, My child. Take seriously what I am telling you, and you will live a long life. I have taught you wisdom and the right way to live. Nothing will stand in your way if you walk wisely, and you will not stumble when you run.” Proverbs 4:10-12
When you start seeing TV commercials about Christmas, you know it’s almost Labor Day.
Whose idea was it to salute the nation’s workforce by giving them a day off? Some say he was a carpenter; others, a machinist. Both must have been sad to see summer end and wanted one more backyard barbecue before tossing a tarp on the lawnmower and taking the snow blower in for a tune up.
Our earliest ancestors looked to the moon to mark the change of seasons, just as our Creator intended. All that transpires beneath that moon is fully known, caused or allowed by the One who also hung each star in place and gave it a name.
He knows your name as well. His genuine love for you sent His Son to take your place on that old, rugged cross. There the Carpenter from Nazareth did the heavy lifting for us, the labor that paid for our sins.
Isn’t that worth celebrating every day, with or without a barbecue?
Seattle is not a city. It’s a state. A state of mind. As Perry Como sang in his 1969 hit,
The bluest skies you’ve ever seen are in Seattle. And the hills the greenest green in Seattle. Like a beautiful child growing up free and wild Full of hopes and full of fears Full of laughter, full of tears Full of dreams to last the years In Seattle.
Another city sounds too good to be true. It will appear at the end of time as we know it. It was first “seen” in the mind of Jesus Christ’s close friend, John. Called “the holy city,” “the city of God” and “the new Jerusalem,” it will descend from above and become heaven on a “new” earth, since today’s earth will have been completely demolished and recreated.
This miraculous metropolis will be cube-shaped, 1,400 miles on a side. With 12-foot ceilings, it would be 600,000 stories tall, stretching from Canada to Mexico and from California to the Appalachians. Spacious enough for billions – with a b – of residents.
This city is not a state of mind. It will be a sin- and illness-free reality. What will qualify you to legally reside in this holy city that’s full of hopes, laughter and dreams to last an eternity?
Summer in Seattle tempts us locals to insist that the Emerald City is the most beautiful place on earth. Property with waterfront or a view command top dollar. Our temperate climate shields us from blistering heat. July and August skies roll back the clouds, revealing snowcapped sentinels guarding both flanks of dazzling Puget Sound.
Whether it’s sports teams, business icons, educational and medical facilities or appealing weather, we’re prone to preen with hometown hubris. Perhaps this gives us cover to minimize our rainfall and vulnerability to earthquakes, tsunamis and North Korean missiles.
So what do we do with our bent to be bragodocious?
Speaking through His Old Testament prophet, Jeremiah, the Lord said, “Wise men should not boast of their wisdom, nor strong men of their strength, nor rich men of their wealth. If anyone wants to boast, he should boast that he knows and understands Me because My love is constant, and I do what is just and right.”
Centuries later God’s messenger, Paul, wrote, “Whoever wants to boast must boast of what the Lord has done.”
Feeling “under the weather?” His mortgage is “under water.” It’s hard to buy a home in Seattle for “under half a million.”
Undernourished. Underappreciated. Underfunded. It seems as if under is not where you want to be. It connotes inadequacy, less than desirable.
But consider this star-spangled exception, written in 1887 by Rear Admiral George Balch. Revised five years later by Francis Bellamy, this gleaming assertion of love and loyalty was adopted by Congress in 1942. Want to say it with me?
“I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”
Woops, we overlooked one “under.” In 1954 one magnificent phrase was added:
“I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the republic for which it stands, one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”
Only those under His banner, under His pledge of protection will experience God’s gift of everlasting liberty and justice. Are we, as a nation, under God? Are you?
How close are/were you to your father? How does he shape your self-image and choices? Did he gravitate to or away from you? Was he a tyrant, a benevolent dictator or your cheerleader?
Madonna hopes her “Papa Don’t Preach.” Eric Clapton never saw “My Father’s Eyes.” The Boss recalls “My Father’s Home.” John Mayer urges dads to “be good to your ‘Daughters.’” Luther Vandross aches to “Dance with my Father” again. Beyonce adores “Daddy,” “the man in my life who can’t be replaced.” He was rarely around and never said he loved her, but Reba McEntyre honors “The Greatest Man I Ever Knew.” Harry Chapin’s “Cat’s In The Cradle” describes my own Dad’s good intentions to “get together then.”
The “prodigal son” depicts God’s ideal father as generous, patient and unconditionally loving. Indeed, God loves us so much that He sent His only Son from heaven to die for your sins and mine so that we could live with God both here and in heaven.
Have you invited God the Father to permanently adopt you as His son?
From the warm, swaying surf of Kealakekua
To the mountainous big skies ‘round Missoula
From the boulders that guard the shores of Maine
To the bluebell explosion on the hot Texas plain
There’s much to love about this land, our liberty and our Lord.
In a nation that opens its arms to the world
We lie vulnerable to cultural confusion.
Such conflicting beliefs, can we hope for relief,
Or is “one nation under God” an illusion?
Yet, so much to love about this land, our liberty and our Lord.
When our Anthem is played and our flag passes by,
Do we rise as one big family to attention?
Does blood spilled for freedom bring a tear to our eyes,
Or has respect been replaced by dissension?
Still, much to love about this land, our liberty and our Lord.
T.S. Eliot ponders, “If you aren’t in over your head, how do you know how tall you are?”
This time of year life’s moments can tailgate, collide and stack up like the freeway at rush hour. We’re celebrating graduations, engagements and weddings. First-time parents are announcing the gender of their pre-born “womb mates.” And, oh yes, some of us are finally aging.
Life contains both highs and lows. It’s a package deal – you can’t have one without the other. By the way, how are you coping?
Paul can relate. He experienced both extreme suffering (to the point of being beheaded by Caesar) as well as extreme success. His secret sauce: “I can face anything because Jesus Christ is my strength.”