What Others Say

I always enjoy your Saturday columns in the "Trib". The one today was particularly good, thank you for writing it.

Gary J. - MacGregor, TX

Sunday, January 13, 2019

A Resurrection Body


I took off my gloves the other day and laid them on the kitchen cabinet.  I had been outside watching the sun rise, as is my habit, even though the temperature was in the teens.  I have had these gloves a long time, several years.

When I went back to put them on again, I saw them lying there, limp and useless.  They still held the form of my hands, the fingers slightly curved. The thumb in place to grasp something, but they were empty, wrinkled and worn with use.

 My gloves reminded me of my body.  The day will come when I will put off this body that has served me for seven decades.  Like my gloves, my body was once young and new, without wrinkle, elastic, unscarred.  But over the years it has grown old.  My body groans when it moves, becomes stiff when I sit in one position too long.  It aches. Putting on my socks has become an exercise in calisthenics.

When I die I will put off this body like I pull off my gloves when I come in from the cold.  It will still hold something of my shape.  But it will no longer be me, any more than my gloves are me.  When my hand occupies my glove it can move and grasp things. The glove is filled with my life.  Likewise my body is filled with me while I still live.  But, someday, I will lay it down. 

According to Scripture, I will eventually put on a new body, just as I can place my hands in a new pair of gloves.  The Bible has a lot to say about this, especially in 1 Corinthians 15. “It is sown [a perishable body, it is raised an imperishable body; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power;  it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body.” 

When my mother was dying we talked about heaven.  She was 89 years old.  Her body had withered away.  Her back was bowed with osteoporosis.  Her vision was failing.  She had suffered a series of mini-strokes.  She had difficulty walking.  When she was a young girl she was athletic, a beautiful fast runner. She won ribbons in track.  We talked about how she would run again, the wind in her hair, flying through the meadow as she did when she was growing up on the farm.

There’s a lot I don’t know about Heaven.  What kind of bodies will we have when we get there?  Will our heavenly bodies resemble our earthly bodies?  Will we have different ethnicities, different skin color and racial features?  Will we all look the same?   Maybe we will know other in a different way, more spiritual and intuitive than visual.  From what I know of God in this world, I would have to assume there will be variety … lots of variety … even more than we see on earth. But all prejudice and pride will vanish. 

1 John 1:3-2 states, “Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is.”

Saturday, January 5, 2019

Investments


Everyone, it seems, is thinking about investments, especially since the stock market started December with its worst performance since the Great Depression.  When I was young, I didn’t think much about the stock market.  It seemed far removed from my day-to-day concerns.  After all, I had nothing to invest. 

When I asked my wife to marry me I was making $40 per month.  Surprisingly, she said yes.  Of course a gallon of gas cost 32 cents, 28 if you found it on sale.  Our biggest financial concern when we married was how many ways we could eat a chicken.  First she fried it, then we ate chicken salad, and finally she cooked chicken and dumplings.  It is surprising how many ways and how many times you can eat a chicken when you are broke.

But across the years we invested in annuities for our retirement.  I am glad we did.  And now a portion of those savings are invested in stocks.  So, I pay attention when the stock market goes into a swoon like it has the last three months. I try to remind myself I need to think in the long term, which is harder to do the older I get. The years are running out.

Benjamin Franklin understood the power of investments.  When he died in 1790 he left $5,000 to each of his favorite cities, Boston and Philadelphia with the stipulation that the money be invested and the interest compounded for 200 years. By 1990 the initial investment had grown to $20 million. As Franklin said, “Money makes money, and the money that money makes, makes money.”

Jesus used this metaphor to remind us of the importance of investing our lives in the right things. In Matthew 25 Jesus tells the story of a wealthy man who asks three servants to manage portions of his money. To one he gives $5,000, to another $2,000 and to the third $1,000.  After a time he asks each to account for their management.  The first doubled the $5,000 and returned $10,000.  The second doubled the $2,000 and returned $4,000.  But the third buried his $1,000 because he was afraid he might lose it.  He returned the $1,000 he had been given.  The master was furious because the third servant did not invest anything. 

Of course Jesus was never concerned about money.  But he was deeply concerned about the way we invest our lives. 

Clint Eastwood’s new movie, The Mule, was released into theaters December 14.  Eastwood plays the part of Earl Stone who, late in life, is estranged from his family because he chose to invest his time in his career and hobbies rather than his relationships.  The movie is based on the life of Leo Sharp, a WW II veteran who became a renowned horticulturalist in day lilies before becoming a drug courier in his 80s.

We all have choices. Whether we have financial investments or not, we are responsible for our time and resources.  As we look forward to 2019 we need to ask ourselves the question, “What investments will I make in the lives of those I love and the world around me?” 

Sunday, December 30, 2018

Imagine

If this New Year’s Celebration at Times Square follows the pattern set since 2005, just before the ball drops and we turn or calendars forward, someone will sing John Lennon’s classic song, Imagine. It is a good thing to close out the past and look to the future by imagining the world as it could be. 

 John Lennon sat down at his piano in Berkshire, England one morning in early 1971 and composed the song that became his most popular single.  The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation named it the greatest song of the last 100 years.  Australians chose “Imagine” as the greatest song of all time. But for many of us, there is a greater vision of how the world could be.

Every time we quote the Lord’s Prayer we are invited to imagine the world as it is meant to be.  Jesus taught us to pray, “Our Father who art in Heaven, Hallowed be Thy name.  Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven …” What would the world look like if that prayer were answered?  How would the world differ from the world we know? 

If God’s will were done on earth, there would be no more crime. Theft, violence and murder would end. Prisons would empty.  Neighbor would no longer sue neighbor.  Court dockets would clear.

Employers would forego extravagant profits in order to pay higher wages to their workers.   No child would go to bed hungry or unsheltered.  Those who possess the food and resources of the world would share with those who have none.

Corruption, graft and greed would disappear. Wars would cease. Politicians would serve the best interest of others with honesty and integrity.  Fairness, kindness, forgiveness and generosity would prevail. 

Husbands would love their wives seeking what is best for them and striving to please them.  Wives would love and respect their husbands, building them up and encouraging them. Children would honor their parents and obey them, trusting them in the knowledge that they want what is best for them.

Racial, cultural and sexual prejudices would vanish.  Discrimination would disappear. Every human being would treat every other human being with respect.  The strong would help the weak.

None of us are in the position to effect such a whole scale change for the world in which we live.  But we are each able to change our little corner of the world.  We can put into practice the answer to the prayer Jesus taught us to pray. His Kingdom can come and His will can be done in us and through us. 

In 2019 we can be a part of the answer to the prayer that has been prayed for more than 2,000 years.  What if His kingdom were to come and His will was done on earth as it is in Heaven? Just imagine!

Monday, December 17, 2018

Find Christmas 2018


Christmas is upon us!  Entire streets sparkle with multi-colored lights.  Last-minute shoppers pack the aisles.  Christmas music echoes in the malls.  Traditional performances: The Messiah, The Nutcracker; A Christmas Carol; White Christmas along with children’s pageants at school and church.  What would Christmas be without 6 and 7 year-old magi, shepherds and angels retelling the story while parents capture it all on video?   

Holiday movies dominate our screens, big and small: It’s A Wonderful Life!; Miracle on 34th Street; The Grinch Who Stole Christmas; the Santa Clause and the new Netflix blockbuster, Christmas Chronicles, which I have seen 3 times with my 7 and 5 year old granddaughters, at their request. (Somehow we have to sort through all the fantasy and fact.)

We search for Christmas in the spectacular: the spectacular event, spectacular lights, the spectacular gift. We want to re-create the perfect Christmas moment that we wish exemplified our lives. 

The first Christmas had little resemblance to our contemporary traditions. The birth of Christ occurred in the chaos of the common and the ordinary: a common stable surrounded by common animals in a common village.  Few took notice. There was no extravaganza staged in the cities. The angels’ announcement occurred in a remote region with only a few simple shepherds present.  The Magi, who observed the star in the east, came and went almost unnoticed.  

It was for the common and the ordinary that Christ came.  He grew up in a carpenter’s shop in the remote village of Nazareth.  He owned no house and had no possessions.  He had no place to lay his head.  And, after a brief public ministry in which he healed and taught thousands, he died upon a common cross outside Jerusalem and was buried in a borrowed tomb.  In birth, life and death, Jesus redeemed the common and the ordinary and elevated each of us to an extraordinary relationship with God. 

The first Christmas was an “out of control” event for Mary and Joseph.  The tax summons that took them to Bethlehem could not have come at a worse time.  The baby was due.  She was in no condition for such a long and arduous journey. When they arrived, the town was a bedlam of people.  No one wanted to be there.  They had come because they were obligated under Roman law. Of course, it was not out of God’s control. What appeared to be an onerous obligation and an inconvenient time was actually a fulfillment of prophecy that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem. 

Perhaps God planned it this way to teach us that His intervention must be experienced in the common and the ordinary chaos of life. When we look for Christmas in the spectacular, we can only experience it once a year. But when we discover Christmas in the common and the chaotic, it can change our life every day.

Monday, December 10, 2018

Our Fiftieth


Next week my wife and I will celebrate our 50th anniversary.  How did this happen?  Where did the years go?  I always thought people who reached their 50th were old.  Why aren’t we?

 December 21, 1968 we exchanged vows.  I lifted her veil, kissed her and we left the altar hand-in-hand to start a journey that has spanned half a century.  Apollo 8 launched the day we were married, the first manned flight to leave earth’s orbit.  Neither of us imagined the journey we started that day would take us “to the moon and back.”  Or so it seems.

We have embraced orphans in Brazil and fished for piranha on the Amazon; sipped coffee in the mountains of Guatemala and the coast of Colombia; stood at the pyramids in Egypt, the same structures that greeted Abraham and Sarah;  visited Sydney, Melbourne and Perth in Australia; stood on the rocky shore of New Zealand; watched the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace; viewed Michelangelo’s painting in the Sistene Chapel and visited St Peter’s Basilica; walked along the canals of Venice; stood on the mountains overlooking Salzburg; watched the striking of the clock in Prague; spent a summer in  Nuremburg and rode the trains across Bavaria;  visited Luther’s House in Wittenburg and Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s home in Berlin; toured Lenin’s tomb in Moscow and the DMZ between North and South Korea;  stood on the shore where the tsunami hit Banda Ache, Indonesia.  We have walked where Jesus walked, along the shore of the Sea of Galilee.

We grew up in Texas, spent 8 winters in Minnesota and now live in the shadow of the Rocky Mountains in Colorado. You can go a lot of places and see a lot of things in 50 years.

We have experienced sorrow and loss, the death of parents and loved ones. We have wept beside their caskets, said our goodbyes and comforted one another.  We have known discouragement and disappointment.  We have celebrated victory and accomplishment. We have wondered in awe at the miracle of children and grandchildren.  We have experienced God’s presence, seen His glory and worshipped in many languages.

God’s promises to Abraham and Sarah have become personal, charged with meaning and memory: “Go forth from your country and from your relatives and from your father’s house to the land which I shall show you … and I will bless you … and I will make you a blessing.” 

At our wedding  my college roommate sang Savior Like A Shepherd Lead Us.  It is still our song.
Savior, like a shepherd lead us, much we need Thy tender care;
In Thy pleasant pastures feed us, for our use Thy folds prepare.
We are Thine, Thou dost befriend us, be the Guardian of our way;
Keep Thy flock, from sin defend us, seek us when we go astray.
Thou hast promised to receive us, poor and sinful though we be;
Thou hast mercy to relieve us, grace to cleanse and pow’r to free.
Early let us seek Thy favor, early let us do Thy will;
Blessed Lord and only Savior, with Thy love our bosoms fill.

Our faith, our gratitude and our love for one another is far deeper than it was on that day we started our journey 50 years ago.  We know that old age will come, dying will come and our parting will come.  But we know better than we knew in our youth that His grace is sufficient.  His promise is true.  “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”

Monday, December 3, 2018

A Legacy of Light: Georgy H.W. Bush


I first saw George H. W. Bush at a Fourth of July picnic in Lake Jackson, Texas, a slender young politician in his mid-40s running for congress.  He won the election and later served as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations and Vice President with Ronald Reagan before being elected President of the United States.  His son, George W. and I are the same age.

I have always been impressed with George H.W. as a man of integrity, honesty, character, courage and faith.  He embodied the qualities that Tom Brokaw described as “the greatest generation.”  Not least in the legacy of President Bush was his devotion to his wife, Barbara and the support they shared in the death of their daughter, Robin.

 I saw the same qualities in my father, a blue-collar worker with Bell Telephone who was devoted to my mother, raised 3 sons and served as a deacon in his church. He died at 53 of cancer.

It is good for our nation that we will spend this next week remembering a leader with the qualities of George H.W. Bush.  A world awash with lies, accusations, falsehoods, greed, self-serving, prejudice, fear and faithlessness needs to be reminded of the higher standards that can sustain us.

Abraham Lincoln referred to “our better angels.”  President Bush referred to “a thousand points of light.”  At his 1989 inaugural he said, “I have spoken of a thousand points of light, of all the community organizations that are spread like stars throughout the Nation, doing good. We will work hand in hand, encouraging, sometimes leading, sometimes being led, rewarding.”

President Bush later spearheaded the formation of the Points of Light Foundation that encourages volunteers to engage solutions for their communities.  According to their website, Point of Light has a global network of over 200 affiliates in 35 countries working with thousands of non-profits to mobilize volunteers world-wide.

Most of us will never be rich or famous.  All of us, regardless of our occupation or income, can make the world better.  Whether we are garbage collectors, janitors, cashiers, factory workers, salesmen, technicians, nurses, maids or executives, we will all leave a legacy.  Most of us will have children and grandchildren. We all have classmates, friends and co-workers. Every life counts. Every life makes a difference.

Jesus said, “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand and it gives light to all who are in the room. So let your light shine before men that they might see your good works and glorify your Father which is in Heaven.”  (Matthew 5:14-16).

In a dark and desperate world, when increasingly it seems people practice dishonesty, deceit and immorality in the shadows of secrecy, perhaps we can heed the legacy of our former President and live in such a way that we turn the world from darkness to light.

As we prepare to celebrate Jesus’ birth let us be reminded that “ In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men.  The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.” (John 1:4).


Monday, November 26, 2018

Celebrating the Season

Thanksgiving and Black Friday have come and gone.  We have gathered with family, feasted on turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes, sweet potato casserole, fruit salad and pecan pie, watched a few football games, played with the kids and enjoyed the sweet slumber that only tryptophan can provide.  We survived Black Friday and celebrated a few bargains and did our part to fuel the American economy. 

Today we unpacked Christmas decorations.  When the children were growing up, we always celebrated with a live tree.  In Minnesota we climbed aboard a horse-drawn sleigh, bundled against the cold, our daughter holding a bunny in her lap as a hand-warmer, and personally picked out a tree from off the hillside.  We hauled it home, stood it in the living room, showered it with lights and ornaments.  But, a few years ago, we opted for an artificial tree.  It loses something in the fragrance and the romance of it all but it is easier.

My wife loves Christmas.  She starts watching Hallmark Christmas shows before Thanksgiving.  And, once the turkey has surrendered its life to our gratitude, she decorates for the season. 

I have to admit I enjoy seeing the old decorations taking their place throughout the house.  They are more than plaster, plastic, wood and glue.  They are charged with memories of Christmases past: the snowman knitted by my wife’s mother, the handmade ornaments when our children were small, others far to numerous to list.

Metropolitan cities and small towns light up the land with Christmas lights.  Neighborhoods are transformed.  Shopping centers echo with the sounds of silver bells and Christmas carols.  All of our decorations, along with The Nutcracker, It’s a Wonderful Life, and Miracle on 34th Street make it a magical time of year.   I think God takes pleasure when we enjoy the Christmas celebrations.

Beneath and behind all our treasured holiday traditions lies the simple message that changes everything. “God became flesh and dwelt among us.”  We are not disconnected from the Creator.  In Jesus He chose to enter into our suffering, to show us a better way, to demonstrate His love, forgive our sins and give us eternal life.  When Jesus was born, everything changed! There is good reason to celebrate!

All of the Christmas busy-ness can muffle the deeper message of the season. The birth of Jesus was not an escape from the burdens and realities that we all face.  God became flesh to engage our humanity with all of our foibles, sufferings and sin.  He sent His Son to overcome prejudice, pride, resentment and hate.  He conquered the grave and  lifted us to new heights of hope, joy, love and life.

But we do see Him who was made for a little while lower than the angels, namely, Jesus, because of the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, so that by the grace of God He might taste death for everyone.” (Hebrews 2:9)

Bill Tinsley reflects on current events