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Sands of Time

What on earth can we learn from sand? Carpeting the water-logged two-thirds of the earth, it’s the result of timeless pounding of wind and waves. Sprawling expanses of burning, desert sand once served as the floor of our planet. It’s everywhere underfoot, even in the Bible. God promised Abraham that his descendants would be as numerous as sand. God’s thoughts of us outnumber the grains of sand. He advises, “Build on a rock because if storms batter a home built on sand, it collapses and is swept away.” Like an hourglass, your sands of time creep through life’s bottlenecks until the last few grains pick up speed and slide into their final resting place. What have you learned from these few lines about sand? “Everyone who hears my teaching and applies it to his life can be compared to a wise man who built his house on an unshakable foundation. When the rains fell and the flood[ came, with fierce winds beating upon his house, it stood firm because of its strong foundation.” (Matthew 7:24-25)

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Sep 15, 2019

September's Song

Debuting in 1938 in a Broadway musical, “September Song” put a few more coins in the pockets of Tony Bennett and Frank Sinatra.  Its lyrics liken a calendar year to one’s life span:   “It’s a long, long while from May to December, But the days grow short when you reach September. When the autumn weather turns the leaves to flame, One hasn’t got time for the waiting game.”   Procrastination or, as my mother put it, “a hard head” describes those who delay putting their trust in Jesus Christ’s payment on the cross for our sin.  Like a driver careening down a mountain, unaware that he won’t survive the next curve at this speed, many refuse to admit and act on their need for a Savior.   The Bible calls today “the day of salvation,” the day for a soft heart, not a hard head.    “These few precious days I’ll spend with you.”   Will September be your time to sing that sweet, sweet song of salvation?     “You’ll welcome us with open arms when we run for cover to You. …  You are famous, God, for welcoming God-seekers, for decking us out in delight.”  Psalm 5:11-12 The Message   Posted September 30, 2019

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Sep 1, 2019

Labor's Gift

In 1300 the word labor meant a task or project.  It came to also signify trouble, hardship, pain and fatigue.  The word entitle soon surfaced to describe the act of naming a chapter or a book.  A century later it defined giving someone claim to a possession or privilege.   You don’t work free because your employer deserves your labor. You earn your paycheck; it’s not an entitlement.   On a far more cosmic scale Paul of Tarsus wrote this to the citizens and slaves in 1st century Rome:   “The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”   Have you accepted that gift, God’s labor of love, which we cannot earn and do not deserve?     “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works so that no one can boast.  Ephesians 2:8,9   Posted September 15, 2019

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Aug 18, 2019

What's Your Question?

WHY do we seem to have more questions than answers?  We flock to those who say what we want to hear.  We read the books they write and sing their songs.  WHICH questions do they answer for us?  WHAT do they tell us about ourselves, about our purpose for taking up shelf space?  WHO are they?  HOW does their influence affect us?    Let’s hear from one who mistook the Messiah for his menace:   “For the message about Christ’s death on the cross  is nonsense to those who are being lost; but for us who are being saved, it is God’s power.”   Is He the One to WHOM you turn to answer your deepest questions?   “God purposely chose what the world considers nonsense in order to shame the wise, and He chose what the world considers weak in order to shame the powerful. …But God has brought you into union with Christ Jesus, and God has made Christ to be our wisdom.  By Him we are put right with God; we become God’s holy people and are set free.”  1 Corinthians 1:29-30   Posted September 1, 2019

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Aug 4, 2019

The Brush-off

Home ownership can be wearisome.  Can’t we annihilate those rascally moles and their trail of mini-pyramids of dirt?  The rotting wooden gutters have got to go.  The roof is growing its own putting green.  We pretend it’s thatched.   Then the biggie -- painting.  Another year of procrastinating and the neighbors will report us to housing’s equivalent to Child Protective Services.   We bite the bullet and give a painter the green light.  Now comes the scary part.  Will he scrape off every flake of old paint or just those at eye level?  Will he power-wash with Grand Coulee force, or give it a Presbyterian sprinkle?   Fast forward, and we’re handing over the final payment.  Our painter escorts us on a walk-around, pointing out extra steps he’s taken to repair and preserve our now gleaming abode.  Why so much angst?  It could not have gone better.   A friend observed, “Sure, there are evil people in the world, but everybody’s doing the best they can.”   Do you give others the benefit of the doubt?  Are you a trusting soul?     “We use (our tongue) to give thanks to our Lord and Father and also to curse other people who are created in the likeness of God.  Words of thanksgiving and cursing pour out from the same mouth; my friends, this should not happen!”  James 3:9-10   Posted August 18, 2019

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Jul 14, 2019

Dream On

“A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” Bill Shakespeare’s saga of love, jealousy and marriage in Athens, boasts some classic lines:   “Lord, what fools these mortals be!”  Earlier the apostle Paul wrote to Greeks in Corinth, upstaging the bard, saying, “The message about Christ’s death on the cross is nonsense to those who are being lost, but for us who are being saved, it is God’s power. … God has shown that this world’s wisdom is foolishness.”   “The course of true love never did run smooth.” Jesus promised His followers, “In the world you’ll have trouble, but cheer up!  I’ve overcome the world.” “My soul is in the sky.”  Paul informs believers, “We are citizens of heaven. We look forward to the Lord Jesus Christ coming from heaven as our Savior.”   The worth of citizenship is in dispute today, but  “Where were you born?” is not the issue. It’s “Have you been born again?”   Have you?     “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in Me. My Father’s house has many rooms … I will come back and take you to be with Me that you also may be where I am.”  John 14:1-3   Posted July 29, 2019

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Jul 1, 2019

ReUnited

Thirty-nine years ago I was flying to the South to say goodbye to my dad.    We had not seen each other for fourteen years following my wedding and college graduation.  Divorce hit us hard as I entered high school, and Dad did not see his only grandchildren until we reconciled when they were 16, 15 and 10.   Because he had lymphoma, this would be our last visit.   Two years earlier I was thrilled to hear him say that as a teenager he had asked Jesus Christ to be his Savior.  The Manufacturer’s Handbook guarantees that this act of faith on our part triggers God’s promises to keep us in His care from now throughout eternity.   Dad slipped into heaven before I arrived, but based on those promises, there’ll be eons to make up for lost time.   What sort of reunion are you and your family planning?     “’Sirs, what must I do to be saved?’  They answered, ‘Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved – you and your family.’”  Acts 16:30   Posted July 15, 2019

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Jun 17, 2019

Future Tense?

Yesterday is history.  Tomorrow, a mystery.  Today is a gift.  That’s why we call it the present.   Dwelling on the past can shackle you to situations which you're powerless to improve or delete.  Sparky Anderson, baseball’s first manager to win a World Series in both leagues, said of living in the past, “There’s no future in it.”   Focusing on your tomorrows can arouse anxiety or hope.  Holocaust survivor Corrie ten Boom wisely stated, “Never be afraid to trust an unknown to a known God.”   Are you anxious or hopeful about the future?  Based on what?     “The faithful love of the Lord never ends!  His mercies never cease.  Great is His faithfulness; His mercies begin afresh each morning.”  Lamentations 3:22,23 Posted July 1, 2019

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Jun 3, 2019

Why Didn't I Ask?

We’re finally taping our memories of marriage and family events.  Perhaps we’re answering questions our offspring would never ask, but as Zig Ziglar said, “If you ask your parents these questions, you’ll be glad you did.  If you don’t, you’ll wish you had.” These are suggested by our friend, Bob Tiede: 1.  What are your favorite memories of being with your parents/grandparents? 2.  What did you discover about yourself in grade school? 3.  What did you and your best friend in high school like to do together? 4.  What kind of trouble did you get into at home or school? 5.  Growing up, what did you want to be? 6.  What was your first, out-of-home job? 7.  What first attracted you to your life’s mate? 8.  What is the hardest thing you’ve ever done? 9.  What in life are you most proud of/grateful for? 10.  What’s important to you about God, and how did you learn that? Will you look for an opportunity to ask (and record) this Q&A, and then share it with family and special friends? “Honor your father and mother – which is the first commandment with a promise – that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.”  Ephesians 6:2-3 Posted June 17, 2019

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May 16, 2019

A Keeper

Truth be told, if it were up to us men to keep our planet’s pipeline populated … fuhgeddaaboudit!   Never mind the pre-natal nausea and pain of delivery.  That’s easy.  Next, the child-rearing.  Call it parenting; some have other names for it.  That too is a piece of cake.  The real mountain to climb, in our case, is raising Dad.  Moi.  I’m her biggest test.      It was a Mother’s Day card from one of our children, but I took it personally.  It read:   “Keep calm.  Call mom.”     “A good woman is hard to find, and worth far more than diamonds.  Her husband trusts her without reserve, and never has reason to regret it.”  Proverbs 31:10,11 Posted May 30, 2019

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Apr 30, 2019

Yours For The Asking

Is there no oasis of optimism where we can find refreshment?   In a distant land where hateful prejudice is baked into the culture, a nameless woman stands at an ancient well in the searing, midday heat, drawing her day’s supply of water.  A stranger surprisingly asks her for a drink. She’s a woman, a second-class gender, a Gentile at that.  And he’s a Jew.    To her amazement, he says if she knew who he was and would but ask, he’d give her water that would slake her thirst forever. Without hesitation she responds, “Sir, give me that water!”    She didn’t have to look far to find Good News.  It was right there, in her dusty, daily rounds, not where you’d normally go to meet your Maker.  Meetings like this can happen anywhere, any time, even now.   Have you asked Jesus for a thirst-ending drink?     “… those who drink the water that I will give them will never be thirsty again.  The water that I will give them will become in them a spring which will provide them with life-giving water and give them eternal life.”  John 4:14   Posted May 14, 2019

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Apr 16, 2019

Safe at Homer

About 800 B.C. Homer wrote his iconic Odyssey about mythical King Odysseus who leaves home to fight in the Trojan War.  Mentor is the counselor’s name to whom he assigns the task of raising his son in his absence. This tutor’s name identifies a type of coaching said to be “the third most powerful relationship for influencing human behavior after marriage and the extended family.”   Paul of the New Testament charged his young mentee, “Timothy, keep safe what has been entrusted to your care.  Avoid the profane talk and foolish arguments of what some people wrongly call ‘knowledge.’  For some have claimed to possess it, and as a result they have lost the way of faith.”   Who is your mentor?  Whom are you mentoring?  What “knowledge” is being transferred and kept safe?     “…the time is here for me to leave this life.  I have done my best in the race, I have run the full distance, and I have kept the faith.  And now there is waiting for me the victory prize of being put right with God, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on that Day – and not only to me, but to all those who wait with love for Him to appear.”  2 Timothy 4:6-8   Posted April 30, 2019

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Mar 31, 2019

Mr. Lonely

“All the lonely people.  Where do they all come from?”  There are 330 million of us in this country now, and thousands more each day.  Yet for many of us there aren’t enough to dispel the deep pain of being alone and friendless. Will this sinkhole ever be filled with love?   Hanging there, spiked through His hands and feet, the bleeding target of heartless haters … No one came to the rescue of this, the loneliest man who ever lived. He died for our sins, taking our place on that horrid altar.   Elvis asked, “Are you lonesome tonight?”  Sam Cooke mourned, “Another Saturday night, and I ain’t got nobody.”  The Everly Brothers pined, “When will I be loved?”  The answer is “You were loved, on that cross.”  Love’s ultimate gift, purchased for you with the life of God’s Son.  He knows loneliness.  Your long and winding road will take you to His door where He hands you the key of faith and invites you in.   Into whose emptiness can you offer this Love and hope today?     “The Lord Himself will lead you and be with you.  He will not fail you or abandon you, so do not lose courage or be afraid.”  Deuteronomy 31:8   Posted April 14, 2019

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Mar 17, 2019

Freedom of Depress

The very first addition to our Constitution grants the right to express ourselves freely without government interference.  It’s one of twenty-seven amendments upon which our freedom is established.   President Coolidge said, “The more I study the Constitution, the more I realize that no other document devised by the hand of man has brought so much progress and happiness to humanity.”  But look around.  Does America seem happy or depressed?   What would happen to your restlessness if you frequently recalled that while the world may seem to be out of control, nothing is out of God’s control?     “Don’t worry about anything, but in all your prayers ask God for what you need, always asking Him with a thankful heart.  And God’s peace, which is far beyond human understanding, will keep your hearts and minds safe in union with Christ Jesus.”  Philippians 4:6-7   Posted March 31, 2019

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Mar 2, 2019

No Room

Sometime when you’re tempted to binge-watch “The Simpsons,” reach for a pencil instead.  Jot down the names of five people who have had a positive impact on you?  How would your life be different if they had never been born?   We know about the “No Vacancy” sign at the Bethlehem Holiday Inn.    When Gabriel told young Mary that she’d bear a son, what if she and Joseph had said, “No, thank you?”   How would your life be different if that baby had not been born?     “I am here with good news for you which will bring great joy to all the people.  This very day in David’s town your Savior was born – Christ the Lord!  And this is what will prove it to you:  you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”  Luke 2:10-11   Posted March 16, 2019

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Feb 15, 2019

Mad About You

Rage has reached epidemic proportions in our country today.  We seem to have plenty to be mad about.  But, honestly, do we really expect anybody to be perfect?  Who among us is without sin?   The Bible says God knows you intimately, even your every thought, before you think or speak.  He never stops thinking of you, loving you so much that, to pardon all of your sins, He had His Son crucified.  This is the most profound truth:   God is mad about you, not at you.   “If God is for you, who can be against you?  Certainly not God …”  Romans 8:31-32 Posted March 1, 2019

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Feb 1, 2019

Young at Heart

Their 5-year-old daughter has a hole in her heart.  Imagine her parents’ anguish as two surgeons from the University of Minnesota explain what’s next.   Wrapped in a special blanket to lower her body temp to 81 degrees, she’ll need less oxygen.  The anesthetic gives the O.R. team up to ten full minutes for the procedure.   The clock starts as the doctors open the chest, block the blood flow into the heart, do the repair and sew up the hole.  A warm bath returns her body temp to normal. Success!  It’s September 2, 1952 … the world’s first open heart surgery.   Imagine the weight lifted from those parents.  Jesus said, “Don’t let your heart be troubled.  You believe in God the Father; then believe in me also.”   Do you believe in Him?      “My health fails; my spirits droop, yet God remains! He is the strength of my heart; He is mine forever!”   Psalm 73:26   Posted February 15, 2019

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Jan 18, 2019

Ten to One

Life is filled with distractions.  Maybe even most of life.    List 10 things you want to accomplish in the next 12 months.  Now whittle that down to just 3 goals.  Eliminate 2 of those, and there’s your #1 task for the year.   What could keep you from achieving it?  List 10 such hindrances. (That shouldn’t be hard!)  Shrink them down to 3.  Now delete 2.  There it is -- the landmine which, as far as you know, is most likely to spoil what you most want to happen.   Would you agree that the quality of your next year depends largely on how you deal with distractions?     "Trust in the Lord with all your heart.  Never rely on what you think you know.  Remember the Lord in everything you do, and He will show you the right way.  Never let yourself think that you are wiser than you are; simply obey the Lord and refuse to do wrong.”  Proverbs 3:5-7   Posted February 1, 2019

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Dec 31, 2018

Graze Anatomy

Gray clouds press in on my window.  Their soggy fingerprints blur the Olympic Mountains which, for now, are hiding across the murky Puget Sound.  I’m enveloped in grayness.  It prompts a question:  What lacks taste, color and shape but is the most prevalent molecule in existence?   If you answered, “Water,” good on you.  The Carpenter from Nazareth transformed water into fine wine.  And He told the woman at the well, “Those who drink this water will thirst again, but those who drink the water that I will give them will never be thirsty again.  The water I give them will become in them a spring which will provide them with life-giving water and give them eternal life.”   Jesus’ friend, John, was given a larger-than-Imax vision of the New Heaven and the New Earth in which he sees the Lord say, “To anyone who is thirsty I will give the right to drink from the spring of the water of life without paying for it.. … I will be their God, and they will be My children.”    Here’s a question from the Good Shepherd who longs to lead you by still waters:   “Thirsty?”   “… Jesus stood up and said in a loud voice, ‘Whoever is thirsty should come to me, and whoever believes in Me should drink …”  John 7:37-38   Posted January 14, 2019

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Dec 18, 2018

Fruit of the Moment Club

In this festive season as you wrap and unwrap those colorful expressions of affection, here’s a thought.  Why not unwrap a broken relationship and re-wrap it in healing words of LOVE?  Someone you know is struggling with loss or fear.  Here’s a roll of JOY to place around their drooping shoulders.  One of your friends is overcome with stress, longing to be enfolded in a shawl of PEACE.   This trio of LOVE, JOY and PEACE is packaged with PATIENCE, KINDNESS, GOODNESS, FAITHFULNESS, GENTLENESS and SELF-CONTROL.  You may recognize these as “the fruit of the Holy Spirit.”  Harry & David ship their nutritious delights monthly, but these flavors of the very nature of God are instantly accessible for you to give to family, friends, co-workers and strangers whom you encounter daily.   Could you picture yourself operating a fruit stand, freely handing out an endless array of fresh reminders of the gift of God’s love and forgiveness?   “Every good gift and every perfect present comes from God, the Creator of the heavenly lights, who does not change...”  James 1:17 Posted January 1, 2019

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Dec 2, 2018

Count On It

In 1972 we were singing along with Bill Withers … “You just call on me, brother, when you need a hand. We all need somebody to lean on.”   Are you banking on wealth, health, yourself or others?  Eventually all will disappoint, except One … Trust in the Lord with all your heart. Never rely on what you think you know. Remember the Lord in everything you do, and He will show you the right way.  Never think that you are wiser than you are; simply obey the Lord and refuse to do wrong …  If you do, it will be like good medicine, healing your wounds and easing your pains.   Are you sure of where you’ve placed your trust?   “There has never been the slightest doubt in my mind that the God who started this great work in you would keep at it and bring it to a flourishing finish on the very day Christ Jesus appears.”  Philippians 1:6 Posted December 16, 2018

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Nov 16, 2018

The Family Table

It was the fall of ’79.  Those fabled, Stargellian Pirates sailed past Montreal, Cincinnati and Baltimore to capture their fifth World Series crown.  Remember the Bucs’ signature song?  #1 on the R&B charts, it was Sister Sledge’s “We Are Family,” appealing to “my brothers, my sisters and me” to “get up, everybody, and sing.”   Getting the whole gang together has become nearly impossible.  The family table has skidded from “endangered species” to “extinct.”  It struggles to resurface on certain holidays, but political correctness has laid so many verbal land mines which can clear-cut whole forests of family trees.   What about saying grace?  Whatever happened to “the family that prays together?”  Will mentioning “our Father” offend or step on someone’s “rights?”   When Jesus summarized His Father’s message to us in a single sentence, did He intend for our relatives to be among those “neighbors” whom we’re to love?  That stripe of love is patient, kind, humble, generous, content, non-judgmental.  You know, all the things that you and I by nature are not.  But Jesus is.   Next time you take a seat at your family table, will you recall how much God loves you, then tell your face to reflect that love when you say, “Please pass the gravy?”     “I may have all knowledge and understand all secrets; I may have all the faith needed to move mountains – but if I have no love, I am nothing.”  1 Corinthians 13:2-3   Posted November 30, 2018

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Nov 3, 2018

What's The Good Word

In It may be too early in the day to try to spell, or even pronounce, this gangly word:   Onomatopoeia.  Does this help:  “on-o-ma-toe-p-uh?”   Its roots are Greek, meaning “word making.”  This seldom spoken but often used figure of speech imitates the sound of what it’s describing.  Mumble through this list and see what I mean:  Bang, coo, oink, meow, roar, chirp, soothe, crash, pop, baa, boom, beep, bow-wow, choo-choo, fizz, hiccup, moo, screech, splash, toot and zap.   This linguistic tool can add a splash of color or a soothing sound to your word making.  The Old Testament proverb reads, “Like golden apples in silver settings, so is a word spoken at the right time.”    Our discourse can be coarse or caring, harsh or helpful.  Will you join me in this whisss-purrred prayer today?    “Let the words from my mouth and the thoughts from my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my Helper and my Savior.”  Psalm 19:14 Psalm 1:1-3   Posted November 17, 2018

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Oct 20, 2018

Up A Tree

In 1914 one of poetry’s most beloved achievements was published. It begins….   I think that I shall never see A poem lovely as a tree. It was penned by Joyce Kilmer who, as an Army intelligence officer in Europe, was slain by a sniper in 1918. His love of the Creator’s handiwork lingers a century later.   A tree that looks at God all day, And lifts her leafy arms to pray; Civilization is framed by two trees. Eve and Adam disobeyed God’s warning to avoid the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Their sin, inherited by us, prompted God to dramatically demonstrate His love for you and me on a wooden cross. If Kilmer’s gift for bringing trees to life could give voice to these trees, what would they reveal?   Poems are made by fools like me, But only God can make a tree. As we marvel at these magnificent, ever-changing, forested festivals, may we dedicate some of their oxygen to give thanks to the brilliant Mind Who invented trees.   Will you consider turning over a new leaf today to thank God for the tree that makes it possible for you to live in the protective shade of His love forever?   “Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on His law day and night.  That person is like a tree planted by streams of water which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither – whatever they do prospers.”  Psalm 1:1-3 Posted November 2, 2018

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Oct 1, 2018

Believe You Me

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   Posted October 15, 2018

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Sep 16, 2018

What's A Body To Believe?

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   Posted September 30, 2018

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