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.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Teach Us to Pray

In the movie, Gravity, astronaut Ryan Stone, played by Sandra Bullock, has found her way aboard the Soyuz space craft.  The sole survivor of her mission, she is marooned in space without hope of survival.  Having lost radio contact with her command center, she scans the frequencies seeking someone with whom she might make contact.

The only person she is able to reach is an Eskimo in the remote tundra who speaks no English.  But the sound of his dogs and the crying of his baby touch her emotions.  She cries. And she cries out in desperation to him, “Say a prayer for me. Maybe I should say a prayer for myself.  But I have never prayed.  No one ever taught me.” 

How much does the character Ryan Stone represent the present generation?  The world seems to be spinning out of control. Evil is rampant.  Death is certain.  Will no one pray for us?  Will no one teach us to pray?

Centuries ago another generation felt the same way.  Jesus’ disciples approached him with the same desperation in their voice and asked, “Lord, teach us to pray.”  And He did.  Here is one thing Jesus taught us.

Prayer does not need to be a memorized formula.  There are no words that are better than any others to address God.  Prayer is a matter of the heart. Jesus told of two men who once prayed. One was very religious and knew all the right words. The other had made a wreck of his life. He was irreligious and broken hearted about his sin. The first prayed long and eloquent prayers that everyone could hear.  The second, feeling unworthy to lift his eyes to Heaven prayed, “Lord, be merciful to me, a sinner.”  The prayer of the second man was the prayer God heard, Jesus said.

When we pray with a broken and contrite heart, God hears.

Chuck Colson, special counsel to President Richard Nixon from 1969-1973, earned the reputation as Nixon’s “hatchet man.”  If there was anything cruel and dirty that needed doing, Colson could do it.  At the pinnacle of power, Colson was convicted for his Watergate crimes and sent to prison. His world crumbling around him, he sat alone in his parked car and cried out to God.  He didn’t know how to pray. He just knew he needed God to save him. 

God answered Colson’s prayers.  When he emerged from prison, he was a changed man.  God used him to launch Prison Fellowship and later, Prison Fellowship International.  He spent the rest of his life proclaiming the saving grace of God through Jesus Christ.


It is never too late to pray.  It is never too late to believe.  Our problems are never too many or too big for God. When we pray our Father who is in Heaven will hear our prayer and will reward us openly. (Matthew 6:5-8).

Monday, May 22, 2017

Buddy's Lesson - Living for Today

A few years ago we adopted a dog.  Well, I guess “I” adopted a dog. My wife finally gave in.  But he won her over and now he is “our” dog.   He has traveled thousands of miles with us and introduced us to people of all ages, races and places who love dogs. This week he moved with us to Colorado. 

Across the years we had pets, mostly mutts and strays that wandered into our lives.  They helped us raise our kids.  Each was different.  “Punkin” was our first. I brought her home for Christmas.  I was too busy to give her much attention, but the boys loved her.  She grew old, blind and died before our daughter was born the year I turned 40.

Rascal was a stray gray-and-white kitten our boys picked up off the street.  He was part of our family for fifteen years and made the move with us from Texas to Minnesota.  

We picked up a puppy we named Max from a Minnesota farm.  We thought he would be a small dog, but in six months, he was bigger than our daughter, had eaten all the furniture and dug up the back yard.  We offered him to a good home.   One interested lady tried to take his picture and he ate her camera.  Finally a young couple with a farm adopted him.  We threw in his crate, dog food and anything else we could think of.  We last saw them chasing him down the street. 

So we went back to cats.  My wife and daughter found a cute black and white kitten that our son named “Fido.”  Our daughter loved Fido.  But, Fido was apparently insulted by our move back to Texas and ran away.  When our daughter left for college we found ourselves in an empty nest, the kids grown and the dogs and cats gone. It was peaceful.  I guess a little too peaceful.   After awhile I realized I missed having a dog. 

We found Buddy, a tri-color Pembroke Corgi. He was picked up starving off the streets of Fort Worth by Corgi Rescue.  When we first met him he was skinny and sick.  But we knew he was right for us.   Buddy and I have bonded.  He goes with me just about everywhere I go.  He is helping me put my life in perspective and teaching me some things about God.



Buddy is teaching me to live in the moment; to celebrate each day as a gift.  So often I spend time reminiscing or regretting the past and dreaming or worrying about the future.  But Buddy takes each day as it comes.  Of course it is good to cherish memories and learn from the past.  And it is good to dream and plan.  That is part of what defines us in God’s image.  But I am prone to miss the moment.  Jesus said, “do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself …” ( Mt 6:34).   “This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it.” (Ps. 118:24). 

Monday, May 15, 2017

Encountering Angels Unaware

Last week we drove my old pickup from Colorado to Texas.  My daughter learned to drive on the truck when she was 16.  She is now grown, married, and the mother of 3 children.  It has hauled and towed “stuff” to and from Minnesota, Montana, Colorado, South Dakota and Georgia.  We are still using it, 155,000 miles and going strong, or so we thought.

We stopped in Amarillo at a truck stop for the usual: gas, snacks and a bathroom.  When we hopped back in the truck, it wouldn’t start. The battery was strong and the starter spun the engine, but it would not fire.

So, there we were. Stranded at a fuel pump 450 miles from home on a Saturday morning. I tried to call an auto shop.  Most are closed on Saturday, and those that are open are already busy. Our insurance agreed to send a tow truck.  But where should we have them tow us? How long before we could get it fixed?  Where would we stay?

My wife did what men won’t do. She went to other travelers, especially those who looked like they had seen the underside of a hood, and asked for help.  I sat in the driver seat, helpless and confused.  Then Rafael showed up, young, bright-eyed and smiling.

Rafael did not speak English. I don’t speak Spanish, except for a few words and phrases that I usually mispronounce. But sign language works where words fall short.  He motioned.  I opened the hood and cranked on the engine. Nothing.  He took an empty water bottle and went around the gas pumps siphoning off the left over gas in each one and tried to prime the engine through the air intake.  He then climbed under the truck and banged on the gas tank, trying to shake the fuel pump into action. Still nothing.

He then opened the fuse box under the hood, pushed and prodded on the relays and fuses.  I turned the key and the engine sprang into life.  Apparently the fuel pump relay had vibrated loose. After a helpless hour and a half, we were back on the road again. I tried to pay Rafael, but he would accept nothing. I tried to thank him with my best Spanish.  He was just happy to help. I mentioned “Jesus Cristo” and he beamed.

I don’t know where Rafael came from. I don’t know where he went.  He drove away in a big truck towing a fifth wheel RV.  Rafael might not qualify as an angel according to the Bible. But he was an angel to us.  It seemed, somehow, God sent him at just the right time. 

Angels show up throughout the Bible. Our technological and scientific Western world dismisses them.  The book of Hebrews says, “ Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.” (Hebrews 13:2).  

I wish we could have shown hospitality to Rafael.  Instead, we were the strangers in need, and he helped us. It seemed as if he were God’s messenger, or “mechanic,” at just the right time in just the right place. Just when we might think that our world is sliding into selfishness, violence and corruption, an angel shows up. 

I hope somewhere, someplace, sometime we might qualify as God’s “angel” to somebody else, especially someone who doesn’t look like us, dress like us or speak our language.  

Monday, May 8, 2017

Honoring Our Mothers

This week husbands, sons and daughters will elbow their way to the greeting card displays in search of the perfect card to celebrate Mothers Day.  Florists will put on extra staff to handle the demand. Restaurants brace for business.

Countries around the world set aside a special day for mothers. It is celebrated on the second Sunday in May in the U.S. Canada, New Zealand, Australia, India, Brazil, Germany, Ethiopia and the Philippines. Woodrow Wilson proclaimed Mothers Day an official holiday starting on May 8, 1914. Still other nations honor mothers on different dates.

Regardless of our nationality, ethnicity or gender, we were each carried in our mother’s womb, given birth through her labor and, in almost all cases, nursed and nourished to life by her care.  

No office and no position wields greater power and influence over the future of humanity than the influence of a mother.  The memories and lessons given in infancy at a mother’s hand surpass every other classroom and instruction.  The faith of a mother inspires and instructs more effectively than any pulpit or pen.

We see it in history, and we see it in the Bible.

In a log cabin in Kentucky, Nancy Hanks Lincoln recognized the early gifts in her child.  She not only taught him to read, but instructed him in the principles that would shape his life.  Without Nancy, and Sarah, who became Lincoln’s step mother after Nancy died, it is unlikely that Abraham Lincoln would have ever surfaced to lead our nation in its greatest hour of crisis.

If it were not for Moses’ mother, the world would have never known the great law-giver who led Israel from captivity and gave us the Ten Commandments.  It was she who hid him in the reeds at the river to save his infant life and it was she who cared for him in Pharaoh’s court. 

How many mothers have petitioned God for the birth of a child, as Hannah prayed in the presence of Eli, the prophet?  Without her prayer, Samuel would not have been born, and would not have been present to anoint David, the king of Israel.

In the fullness of time, in an obscure  Galilean village, another young woman  lifted up her eyes to heaven and sang, “My soul exalts the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior. For He has had regard for the humble state of His handmaiden; for behold, from this time on all generations will count me blessed. For He that is mighty has done to me great things, and holy is His name.” (Luke 1:46-49).  Without Mary we would never have known Jesus, and the world would remain lost in its sins without a Savior.

Paul referred to the importance of a mother’s faith when he wrote to his young protégé, Timothy: “For I am mindful of the sincere faith within you, which first dwelt in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am sure that it is in you as well.”  (2 Timothy 1:5). 


This Mother’s Day we honor all our mothers who have shaped us and made a better world.  It also stands as a challenge to all those young women who give birth to the next generation and shape the future of the world to come.