What Others Say

Mr. Tinsley, thank you for your well-written and insightful article about Luther.
I shared it with my children during family worship. It lifted us up.
Warmly, Kari.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Did Jesus Do Dishes?

Did Jesus do dishes?  The very question sounds sacrilegious.  That might be the point.  Sometimes our “religion” prism causes us to miss the real miracle about Jesus.  The whole idea of “religion” tends to confine our thinking to “church” related activities and theological conversations.  To most people, Jesus never enters day-to-day conversation because to do so is to introduce “religion,” and daily life is uncomfortable with religion.

Those who knew Jesus, who met him, heard him, saw him, ate with him and walked with him were struck by his humanity.  He was real, but, as some say, “not real religious.”  He went to the synagogues and spoke there, but it was the religious people who had difficulty with him.  He ate with tax collectors, visited with prostitutes and befriended lepers, violated religious laws by healing the sick and allowing his disciples to harvest grain on the Sabbath.

Jesus’ divinity was there for all to see:  he made the blind see, caused the deaf to hear, lifted the lame to walk and raised the dead.  Even the wind and the sea obeyed him.  But, as important as all those things were, especially to the individuals who experienced it, he elevated the mundane to the miraculous.

John described him like this:  “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched—this we proclaim concerning the Word of life.” (1 John 1:1) The Word became flesh and lived among us and we saw his glory, glory as the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14). The writer of Hebrews wrote:  “For we have not a high priest who is not touched with our infirmities but was tempted in all ways like as we are, yet without sin.” 

The Bible never says that Jesus did the dishes.  It does say that he washed feet. Which, it seems to me, required a great deal more humility than washing dishes.  I expect dishes were prized possessions in most homes of Galilee. They weren’t cheap.  You could not pick up dishes at the local Walmart or the Dollar store.  They were all hand crafted and often passed down from generation to generation.  Most homes likely had little more than the bare essentials when it came to dishes. They did not pile up in the sink waiting for someone to unload the dishwasher.  But I wouldn’t be surprised if Jesus helped his mother out, or even lent a hand to Martha in the kitchen at Bethany, and washed dishes.

I always think my wife will be most impressed when I buy her flowers.  She does appreciate them and she likes them. But what she really seems to like is the times that I do the dishes.  It may be that the most spiritual thing you may do today is to do the dishes.  It could be a God thing.


Monday, April 24, 2017

Thy Kingdom Come

Last week Dyen returned from her home in Indonesia where she spent four months as an intern with the United Nations working with refugees.  Next month she will graduate with a Master’s degree in Social Work from Baylor University.   She is a remarkable Christian, always bubbling with life, energy and happiness.  She spent the night with us upon her arrival.  The next morning we visited over breakfast on our patio.

I usually spend the early mornings in devotion and prayer in my back yard.  The sun slowly rises, flickering through the sycamore leaves until it clears the trees and floods the yard with light.  Most of my prayers are for personal things, the day-to-day things most of us are concerned about.  I pray for friends who are battling cancer, a friend recovering from an accident and for my four-year-old granddaughter who fell and broke her pinky finger.  I give thanks to God for his answers, continually amazed at how often He seems to listen and how often He seems to answer.

But this morning we visited with Dyen.

I asked her about her work with the refugees.  Her face grew clouded with sadness.  She told us of a child who watched her mother die, a boy who returned home to find his house destroyed and his family dead, a little girl who lifted her skirt to show the bullet wounds she had suffered.  None of the children in the refugee camp have parents. Most of the girls have been raped.

She told how she had struggled as a Christian to counsel these, trying to give hope and encouragement to innocent children victimized by war, oppression, vengeance and violence. I suddenly felt my prayer life to be rather small.  Dyen’s burdened voice brought us close to the cruel stories easily dismissed as so much “news.” 

I was reminded of what Jesus taught us to pray in the Lord’s Prayer, “Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven.”  What would that look like?  I suppose it would look like Jesus’ response to John when John asked if He was the Messiah.  Jesus said, “The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor.” (Luke 7:22).

 I am beginning to pray more for these distant places and these victims.  I am praying more for our own nation.  I am praying that God will turn the tide of violence, anger, hatred, resentment, prejudice and vengeance.  The world seems increasingly dangerous.  If His Kingdom were to come on earth, all of this would be swept away, replaced with kindness, gentleness, thoughtfulness, forgiveness and love.

We cannot control national events. But we can make a difference in the place where we are. Like Dyen seeking to comfort refugees in Indonesia. We can bring the Kingdom near where we live and wherever we go, like Jesus did when He walked through the hills of Galilee.


It is okay to pray for our immediate personal concerns.  After all, Jesus taught us to ask for “daily bread.”  But too often my prayers stop there.  They need to go beyond to the Kingdom issues that reside in the heart of God. 

Monday, April 17, 2017

Love and Marriage

I like to watch young people falling in love and getting married.  I like to watch them strolling arm and arm, pushing a stroller, spreading a blanket on the beach and listening to the waves.  Love is always new.  For generations it has remained the fresh and vibrant theme of novels, movies, music and paintings.

We started hosting a Bible study in our home for International students almost four years ago.  Mulenga showed up alone.  His wife was unable to join him from Zambia because she did not have a visa. We prayed. The visa was granted. She came, and a year later their son was born on my birthday.

Xiuli arrived from China, a beautiful young woman in her thirties.  A year later she met Willis who joined us.  They were married in the Chinese Church on January 2, 2016.  In September she gave birth to a beautiful baby boy.

Balkeum came from South Korea.  She met James a devout believer from my home town in Corsicana, TX who earned a Masters degree in South Korea. A few months later she showed up at the Bible study with an engagement ring on her finger. They were married in April 2016.  Last week I held their daughter, Charlotte, for the first time.

My son had to brand cattle on a Wyoming round-up to ask permission to marry his rodeo-father-in-law’s daughter.  His palms were sweating when he popped the question, not from the round up, but from nerves. 

My son-in-law went fishing with me to ask permission to marry my daughter.  His mind wasn’t on fishing. He then coaxed a friend into flying them in a private plane to a romantic spot where he gave her the ring.

It was almost fifty years ago that I met the girl who would become my wife. The days of our courtship and engagement are as vivid in my memory as they were when we lived them. The mystery and the miracle have not faded.  A few years ago, I wrote a poem, trying to capture the feeling:

He holds the eternal quarter-carat stone in his hand
Buried in his trembling palm,
Pausing to expose its fire sided sight to the light
Where it will be seen,
set in the golden circle of the ring
To be worn on her hand,
 half a century and a day
From this day when he first feels her finger
Slender and smooth, adorned with a diamond
Timidly given in hope of heaven.

There are many love stories in the Bible:  Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebekah, Ruth and Boaz, Joseph and Mary.  The story never grows old.  Few things are as beautiful as a young man and a young woman in love, giving birth to their children.  


“So God created mankind in His own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.  God blessed them and said to them, ‘Be fruitful and increase in number. Fill the earth and subdue it.” Genesis 1:27-28.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Life's Most Important Question

I was twenty-nine years old when my father died of multiple myeloma, cancer of the bone marrow.  He was fifty-three.  Only hours before his death, I spoke with him.  Our eyes met during that final visit, the same eye contact we had shared from my birth, though his eyes were growing gray.  I held his hand as he drew his last breath, and then, he was gone.  His body lay lifeless and unresponsive.

The morticians took his body from the hospital room where our family had waited through the night.  We visited the funeral home and chose a casket.  Shortly afterward other family and friends joined us to view his body lying still and quiet, dressed in his familiar suit, his hair combed.  I stood by the casket and stared at his face.  It was obvious another hand had combed his hair and another hand had tied his tie.  He seemed to be sleeping.

I imagined him drawing breath. Imagined him opening his eyes so that they sparkled once again, his lips parting in the familiar grin, the dimples reappearing in his cheeks.  But he didn’t move. We buried his body in the cemetery 41 years ago surrounded by friends who came to comfort us, many of whom are now buried nearby. 

I asked myself the question Job asked centuries ago, the question every man and woman must ultimately ask when they stand where I stood on that day, “If a man die, shall he live again?”(Job 14:14).

Job’s struggle with the question was not about theology or philosophy.  His struggle was like mine.  It was personal.  It is the struggle we all must face sooner or later when those whom we love die. 

After having pondered the question, Job foresaw the Easter event we celebrate this weekend.  He wrote, “I know that my redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand on the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God; I myself will see him with my own eyes—I, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!” (Job 19:25-27).

The world will ponder Job’s question this weekend when we gather in Christian churches around the world. When Jesus was raised from the dead, the answer to life’s most important question became clear.  Luke wrote, “After his suffering, he presented himself to them and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God.” (Acts 1:3).  Paul wrote, “But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep. For since by a man came death, by a man also came the resurrection of the dead.  For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive.” (1 Corinthians 15:20-22).

Monday, April 3, 2017

Consider the Birds

The birds are the first to wake each morning. I have listened in the predawn dark for the first twitter from the trees.  Like sentinels they watch for the first faint glow in the east, and, long before the sun rises, they start their sunrise celebration.  Sometimes I think they are surprised each morning when a new day dawns.  Their excitement seems to echo Zecharias’ emotions when he announced the birth of Jesus saying, “The sunrise from on high will visit us!” (Luke 1:78).

I especially like the cardinal.  I have watched these brilliant red birds perched high on bare limbs in the Minnesota winter, their ricochet notes shattering the snow-covered stillness on a subzero morning.  I have listened to the same unmistakable notes and spotted their bright red coat amid thick green oaks in the sweltering heat of a Texas summer.

The mockingbird is always dressed in his gray tuxedo for some special occasion, white tipped wings flashing when he flies like formal cuffs in full dress.  Unlike the cardinal, the mockingbird never ventures into northern winters.  He much prefers Texas summers where he can perch on his stage in the live oaks and sing his stolen songs.

I remember waking, when I was a boy, to the rasp of blue jays at play in the pecan trees outside my window.  They rasp now as they did then, and every time I hear them I am carried back across the decades to my youth.

When we lived in Minnesota, I watched chickadees on winter afternoons fluttering in the snow on our windowsill searching for seed.   And I often sat on our deck in Rochester, MN and listening to squadrons of Canadian geese flying low overhead, so low that I could hear the wind in their wings.

Jesus apparently watched the birds and took pleasure in them.  He referred to them to help us understand God’s love and care for us.  He said, “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?”  Again, He said, “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don't be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.”


Sometimes we find ourselves thrown into difficult circumstances.  Like the scorching Texas heat or the frigid Minnesota winter, every element seems to be set against us and we have difficulty seeing our way forward.  At such times we are prone to wonder if God has forgotten us.  We are prone to discouragement, doubt and worry about our future.  Failing health, unemployment, broken promises and broken relationships conspire to steal away our confidence, our hope and our faith.  At such times we need to consider the birds. We are not forgotten.  He who cares for the birds of the air will doubtless care for us.  We are of great worth to God.   Listen to the birds and take heed to their song.