Tuesday, February 24, 2015


I still get tickled when I think about the overwhelming amount of energy anger expends.  You see this very clearly when you take a fighting young buck teenager by the arms and literally remove him from a crowd of on-lookers and into a classroom behind closed doors.  Suddenly the audience, the threat and the drama is removed.  Many times I have seen a young man who seconds before was in a fight now collapse on the floor in tears and exhaustion.  Anger eats up a lot of energy. It leaves us confused and shaky.

Ephesians 4:26 warns us to be cautious with this emotion.  We are commanded to practice it only in a certain way—righteously.  We are to control our fleshly use of anger that is not founded in justice and uprightness.  Paul also instructs us to not let a day end with any leftover anger. 

Dr. Sam Peeples said, “The circumstances of life, the events of life and the people around me in life, do not make me the way I am, but reveal the way I am.”  That is an eye-opener! It is what is inside a man that produces either righteousness or wickedness. Solomon warned, “A fool gives full vent to his anger, but a wise man keeps himself under control.”  

When I look back at some of the most tumultuous times of parenting, I regret that oftentimes, I lost control.   There can be  harm done when we lose control.  Today, we can see the wise counsel above that we need to seek wisdom.  Some need to realize that if anger is a default emotion, it is not the environment that needs to change, but a clear sign that renewal is needed in the inner self.  We need Truth to live in us.  We need our minds renewed by the Spirit.  We need to strip off layer by layer the old way of responding to our world. We need to put on the new self—established in faith in Christ Jesus.

Monday, February 23, 2015


I never thought much about Pigpen while growing up, but he was one of my favorite characters in Peanuts.  I guess I related to him as a little boy with a kinship to dirt.  You remember him don’t you?  He could be seen coming from a distance because a cloud of dust and dirt followed him in each frame. You can encounter people like that too sometimes, whose words are often toxic instead of encouraging.  You can see the cloud around them as they approach you.  I read an enlightening devotional last weekend entitled “Speaking the Truth in Love.” It asked two questions that safeguard our speech and help us to know when to speak and when to be silent.

What exactly does Ephesians 4:15 mean for us to speak the truth in love?

Does it mean that we should always make the truth known in every situation and never remain silent under any circumstances?

The answer is to be found in the word love. The author, Guy Richard, offered two ways in which love affects our speech.  It will affect how we speak the truth and it will affect what truth we decide to speak and what truth we decide to leave unspoken. He then offers two questions that help us apply this verse:

  • Are we really chiefly concerned for the best interest of the other person?
  • Or is it a selfish desire to clear the air or get things off our chest?

This truth has encouraged me this week to remember the wisdom of my grandfather who was slow to speak and quick to listen.  I remember how he sat at the table and listened to all of us, then would finally speak as a wise chief over the younger clan.  Let’s each of us apply this truth in our lives each week.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Martyr Deaths Increasing

Read this in On Mission Summer 2014 magazine...worth distributing:

"More than 2,000 Christians died for their faith last year, according to Open Doors.  The conflict in Syria accounted for the largest group of Christian deaths, some 1,200 casualties. The total number of confirmed martyr deaths reported, 2,123 for 2013 include no numbers for North Korea, where no official Christian deaths were recorded, but most certainly took place.  Pray for Christians who risk their lives simply for publicly proclaiming faith in Jesus."  Source: Relevant, March-April 2014


Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Bethlehem Fiction

Imagine that night in Bethlehem’s pastures.  We know not their names.  They remain obscure characters forever etched into a story of wonder and hope for all generations.  We can only presume their age, their welfare and their status.  Some were likely old and experienced.  Some were fathers raising young men behind them to care for sheep.  There was likely a brotherhood to these guys, a “Band of Brothers” so to speak. But we can also imagine one lonely shepherd.  Think with me what a difference a Hallelujah Chorus would make to a lonely widower, resigned to live the rest of his life married to sheep. Others had for years reached out to Abé.  Most had resigned themselves to the fact that Abé preferred to be left alone. Abé was a loner.  He chose the further meadowlands near Bethlehem’s wilderness.  He never came to the market place at the customary festivals.  He was more of a survivor.  Abé chose to live in obscurity. His peers often wondered how he survived.  Abé was at peace with the circumstances life had brought him. He knew the life of the widow.  In the death of his wife in the breached birth of his firstborn, he lost his whole family.  He and Anna had been friends since childhood.  Their love had grown through the awkward years of adolescence and Jewish rites and arranged marriages.  They were so happy that their love was met with mutual consent from their fathers.  Their whole life seemed perfectly arranged.  He couldn’t love another. Abé spent night after night resolved to seek God in his loneliness while serving those he knew were dear to God. Not having to support anyone but himself, Abé had endeared himself to the words of Isaiah: “…Plead the widow’s cause…Though your sins are like scarlet, they will be as white as snow; though they are as red as crimson, they will be like wool.” Words as these the illiterate Abé understood. So his lambs always went to a widow at a price she could afford. Abé looked upon the baby in the manger and his young mother.  His own heart stirred.  He recalled the prophecies and the message of the angels, and Abé knew that he was looking into the face of a Lamb bringing peace for all the people.  Did he offer Mary a little lamb?  I think that would be a perfect gift.

Unwelcome Guest

Imagine Super Bowl 2015 with me for a moment.  What will that night look like for you and your family? Now imagine this…A few friends get together for a party.  Several hours into the evening, everyone is having fun cheering for their teams and ragging one another about the score.  Now enters a screaming, but seemingly silent murderer in the room.  He is disguised as the spirit of any good party.  He can be bottled or canned, straight from the cooler or over the rocks.  For most his disguise is welcomed as an innocent friend so everyone looks the other way. Some will taste his poison for the first time and deny their own senses in favor of the pressure in the room and among peers to laugh, raise their glass and join the majority.  Tastes Good!! In this gathering imagine that there are people from all walks: experienced, novices, pagans, Christians, first-timers, adults, youth, male, female, family, strangers, repeat offenders and law-abiders.  Now, let’s stop imagining and go back to Super Bowl '13. 

I received a letter from Kirkland Correctional Institute that year.  It was from James.  He attended a Super Bowl Party with friends just two months after graduating from USC.  He is from a good home and had never been in trouble with the law, but after a few drinks, he and a friend drove home. His friend is now dead, and James is serving time for his death, having been found guilty of felony DUI.  He was one mile from his home.  We can be so blind to avoidable circumstances.  We as parents often freeze in passivity when God has given us complete authority to guide our children in the right direction.  I would guess that there were many exits along James’ evening that could have helped avoid all of the sad outcomes of Super Bowl Sunday 2013 for his family and his friend’s family.  How many of us need to really step it up in our responsibilities to God and one another?