What Others Say

Thank you for using your gifts to help others see faith in their creator and their savior in God's son Jesus Christ.
Brian M.

Monday, August 20, 2018

How We Conduct our Conversation


I have a habit of browsing the news.  It is perhaps an addiction or obsession.  I don’t seem to be able to stop.  I prefer written news articles, some in print, most online.  Television newscasts move too slowly, too many commercials and they tend to skim the surface.  Written news is usually more in depth, can be scanned much more quickly and is updated constantly online.

But lately I have questioned whether I should continue to indulge this habit.  Perhaps I should quit reading the news altogether, or at least take a break.  It is almost always depressing.  Everyone seems angry at somebody.  Everyone wants to blame somebody else for their difficulties.  Politicians, athletes, actors and actresses, celebrities of every stripe.  They call each other names and throw insults at one another.  The world has become vitriolic.

Of course there are exceptions. But the exceptions are often drowned out by the sheer noise of name calling and accusations.

Jesus had some rather severe warnings for conduct such as this.  He said, “Everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court; and whoever says to his brother, ‘You good for nothing,’ shall be guilty before the Supreme Court; and whoever says, ‘You fool,’ shall be guilty enough to go into the fiery hell.”  (Matthew 5:22).

But there is a better way.  Jesus demonstrated it by his life and in his death choosing to bless rather than to curse those who attacked him.    The Apostle Paul explained it like this:

“Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind let each of you regard one another as more important than himself.  Do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.  Have this attitude in yourselves that was also in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 2:3-5).

“Therefore laying aside falsehood, speak truth each one of you with his neighbor. … Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear. … Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.  Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving, just as God in Christ has also forgiven you.” (Ephesians 4:25-32).

We can do little to change what public figures may say or what is reported in the news.  But we can change the conversation. At work, at home and school. When conversations become acerbic we can change the tone.  We can refuse to respond in kind.  We can reduce the rhetoric. “A soothing tongue is a tree of life.”  (Proverbs 15:4).

Monday, August 13, 2018

Dog and Cat Theology


Over the years our family has included both cats and dogs that helped us raise our kids.   They became our companions. Our cats seemed willing to allow us the privilege of living with them.  Our dogs seemed grateful for the privilege of living with us. They taught us the difference between dog theology and cat theology.  

It might sound strange, even sacrilegious to a few, but Bob Sjogren and Gerald Robison have developed whole seminars and books around “cat and dog theology.” (www.catndogtheology.com). Simply put, cats say, “You feed me, shelter me and care for me.  I must be god.”  Dogs say, “You feed me, shelter me and care for me.  You must be god.”  If you have ever had a cat and a dog you know what I mean.  Cat theology is me-centered.  “What can God do for me?” Dog theology is God centered. “What does God want me to do?” Here are a few things I am learning about “dog theology” from my dog, Buddy.

Buddy trusts me.  Whenever I get in my truck he jumps in and takes his place, ready to go.  He doesn’t know where we are going or what we are going to do. But he believes that if I am driving it is okay.  I need to be more like that with God.  I always want to know where we are going, when we are going to get there and what we are going to do once we arrive.  I need to jump in the truck with God and give him control of my life.

Buddy wants to be with me.  He doesn’t care if he is at the lake running, splashing and rolling in the mud, sitting in a chair next to me on the patio or in my study lying at my feet while I write.  He just wants to be where I am.   I need to spend time with God.  What made the early disciples different was the fact they had been with Jesus (Acts 4:13).

Buddy follows me.  He even follows me from room to room in the house. Whenever we go for a walks on an empty beach, I let him off his leash and he runs free.  But he keeps an eye on me.  He has developed a radius of his own, about thirty yards from wherever I am.  Within that radius he feels comfortable sniffing washed up driftwood and marking sand dunes.  Occasionally he gets out of eyesight. But, when I call his name he comes running. Not real fast, but as fast as he can. After all he is a Corgi.    It reminds me of what Jesus said to His disciples, “Come, follow me!”  “My sheep know my voice.” 

Buddy waits for me. If I am writing, he lies down, rests his head on his paws, keeps one eye on me and waits.  If we are walking and I stop, he sits down with his tongue hanging out and waits.  If I go to the store, he waits in my truck until I return.  Buddy never complains about waiting on me.  He never gets in a hurry.  Maybe I should be more like that with respect to God and those I love.

Buddy has his own book, Buddy the Floppy Ear Corgi, on Amazon that tells how he was rescued off the streets and how he learned to love himself and others just the way God made them.  Since God has rescued me, I can love myself and others too, just the way He made us

Sunday, August 5, 2018

The Class of 2022


In the next few weeks a wave of 17 and 18 year olds will enroll at our colleges and universities as freshmen.  They have grown up in a post 9/11 world, too young to remember the terrorist attacks on the Twin Towers and the Pentagon that forever changed our world.  They were mere infants, or yet to be born when that fateful morning dawned.  

They are digital. Their earliest memories were formed with PCs and laptops. They have grown up with iPods, iPhones an iPads. Social Media is their world. The internet was here long before they were born.

In some ways their world is unique to any world that has gone before.  But in others, they will share in the same experience that shapes every generation.   Growing up, leaving behind all the old securities, the familiar routines, the shelter of home.  They will carry with them the excitement of launching out on their own, without parental restrictions and supervision.  And, at the same time, they will carry the anxieties and insecurities of being on their own, of being alone. They will pursue the hopes and dreams of a life they cannot predict.

Somewhere in a box, in a dark corner where we store such things, my Baylor slime cap still sleeps: the class of ‘69, “Ever faithful to the line.”  My wife’s is there too, the class of ’71.  They are soaked with memories:  Making new friends; finding our way; finding each other.  A half century has passed.  We celebrate our 50th anniversary this year.  We still get together with friends who shared those first college days.   We celebrate with them the memories of God’s goodness and His provision along the way. 

Like the crowds of 5,000 and 4,000 we have received bread from His hand when we did not know its source.  We have taken up 12 and 7 baskets full, running over, more than enough to meet our needs, blessed beyond our expectations. (And still we doubt?)  (Mark 8:18-21).

We have sent our own children off to college, two to Baylor. One to the University of Minnesota. I have stood in the silence of their empty room, grieved their going while celebrating their “growing up.”  For each of them, as for us, it was the beginning of a new journey.  One that never ends this side of Heaven.

This year our oldest granddaughter is among the incoming freshman class  at the University of Wyoming. We are excited for her, as is our son and daughter-in-law. We are thrilled and proud of the young woman she has become. At the same time, we know the emptiness she will leave behind, how she will be missed, and the challenges she will face. But we have learned, that in and through it all, God is faithful.

The incoming class of 2022 must hear again the voice of God as He spoke to young Abraham in a far and distant land, “Go forth from your country and from your relatives and from your father’s house to a land which I will show you … and I will bless you … and you shall be a blessing.” (Genesis 12:1-2).

Monday, July 30, 2018

Re-dreaming the Dream



Fifty-five years ago, August 28, 1963, Martin Luther King, Jr. took his place on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and addressed a crowd of 250,000. His name is permanently linked with the Civil Rights movement. Boulevards, schools and institutions are named for him.  But Martin Luther King, Jr. was first and foremost a Baptist preacher and pastor.

His words that day, and the non-violent actions he adopted grew out of his faith.  When he announced, “I have a dream,” it was a dream that sprang from Scripture and the teachings of Jesus. Inspiring a generation to correct past wrongs, he exhorted, “in the process of gaining our rightful place we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred. …”

“I have a dream that one day my four little children will live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. … I have a dream that one day every valley will be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low.  The rough places will be made plain and the crooked places will be made straight.  And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together. … With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood.”

Dr. King’s words need to be heard again. The Bible is a dreamer’s book.  God is always inviting us to a new dream that transcends prejudice, suspicion and resentment.

Abraham’s story begins with a vision and a dream: to leave his home in Mesopotamia so that God can make him a blessing to the nations. (Genesis 12:1-3).  Jacob’s life is transformed in a dream at Bethel where he saw angels ascending and descending from Heaven.  God told him, “In you and your descendants shall all the families of the earth be blessed.” (Genesis 28:14).  Peter’s vision at Joppa changed his opinion regarding other ethnicities.  He said, “I certainly understand now that God is not one to show partiality, but in every nation the man who fears him and does what is right is welcome to Him.” (Acts 10:34-35).   

Paul the Apostle was a devout Jew when he was young.  He had little use for Gentiles and was a zealous Pharisee.  But a vision of Christ changed all of that.  He later devoted his life to reaching people of all nations with the message of God’s love in Christ.  In a world and a time known for its prejudice, violence, slavery and sexual abuse he wrote, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

Prejudice, discrimination, resentment and violence are enemies that never die. Every generation must redream the dream and seek God’s vision to overcome these destructive forces.

Monday, July 23, 2018

While You Were Sleeping


I typically don’t think much about sleep. But when you fly through seven or more time zones in a single day, you think about it.  When everyone else is getting up, your body is begging to go to bed. When everyone else is settling down for a good night’s sleep, your body is wide awake and looking for something to do. It takes a few days, at least, to “reset the body clock.”

Sleep is an amazing thing.  We all require it, including the animals.  Even my dog sleeps.  I know, I have spent the night camping in a tent with him.  He snores. Sleep appears to be a requirement for all animal life, though it may vary in intensity and method.

Something mysterious and magical happens when we sleep.

Kenneth Cooper, the world-famous physician who set us on the path for aerobic health more than forty years ago, maintains that adequate sleep, like adequate exercise and diet, are essential to balanced health.  He states, “Most studies indicate that the average person needs somewhere between the traditional 7 and 8 hours a night. If you get much more sleep than that … you feel sluggish and fuzzy-headed during the day.  … if you get too little sleep .. you tend to feel like death warmed over.”

Sleep deprivation has been used as a means of interrogation and even torture.  In some cases, the inability to sleep has had catastrophic consequences.  Many think the popular actor, Heath Ledger’s  tragic death from a prescription drug overdose may have been caused by his ongoing battle with chronic insomnia.

Scientists have a pretty good idea of what goes on during sleep, but no one seems to know exactly how it happens. According to the Sleep Foundation, the body and the brain are repaired and nourished during the phases of non-rapid eye movement (NREM)  and rapid-eye-movement (REM). Somehow the body repairs its muscles, consolidates memory and releases hormones that regulate growth and appetite.

Even Jesus slept.  His twelve disciples found it incredible that he could sleep in the bow of the boat during a raging storm. Frantic with fear, they woke him.   Awakened from his sleep, Jesus asked, “Why are you afraid, you men of little faith?”  He then rebuked the winds and the waves, and the place where they were became perfectly calm. His disciples were astonished and looking at one another asked, “What manner of man is this, that even the wind and the waves obey him?” (Matthew 8:23-27).

The need to sleep recognizes our mortality.  For seven to eight hours of every day, between a fourth and a third of every twenty-four hours, the world continues without us.  During that time, we are totally and completely dependent upon others and upon God for our existence and our well-being.  We are not the masters of our fate.

The Scripture states, “In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat — for he grants sleep to those he loves.” (Psalm 127:2)

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Rescued


For the last two weeks the World Cup has been upstaged by a 12 boy soccer team trapped along with their coach in a cave in Thailand.   The situation was desperate.  A 2.5 mile labyrinth largely submerged under flood waters separated them from freedom.  It looked hopeless.

But a multinational task force united by courage and determination succeeded in saving them all, each one led through dark waters by their guides.  One Thai Navy Seal lost his life setting up the complicated system of oxygen tanks to enable their rescue.

On Tuesday, July 10, the last of the boys and their coach were brought to safety.  The entire world celebrated.

It was a refreshing and heroic story in a world where human life often appears cheap. It served as a reminder of the precious value of every individual.  Like those boys trapped in a cave, every person of every nationality is important, every man, every woman, rich and poor, of every race, every refugee in every country, every life is precious.

It echoed the teachings of Jesus in which He repeatedly urged us to treasure everyone with whom we come in contact.  In the story of the Good Samaritan He instructed us to be neighbor to others by going out of our way, to put ourselves at risk, to bind up their wounds and care for their recovery. (Luke 10:25-37).

This is the way God sees us.  He loves us, each and every one. He searches for us to rescue us.  Like a shepherd who leaves his 99 sheep that are safely home to seek for the one that is lost, God searches for us and celebrates when we are found.  (Luke 15:1-7).

Like these courageous men who put their own lives on the line for these boys, God put His own son’s life on the line for us.  Even more so, God sent His son to rescue us trapped in a world dominated by evil, knowing His Son must suffer and die that we might be rescued.  

As the Bible says, “My beloved friends, let us continue to love each other since love comes from God. Everyone who loves is born of God and experiences a relationship with God. The person who refuses to love doesn’t know the first thing about God, because God is love—so you can’t know him if you don’t love. This is how God showed his love for us: God sent his only Son into the world so we might live through him. This is the kind of love we are talking about—not that we once upon a time loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to clear away our sins and the damage they’ve done to our relationship with God.  (1 John 4:7-10 The Message).

In a world increasingly sown with suspicion and distrust, where racial and economic divisions are rearing their ugly heads, we have all been lifted by the demonstrations of love, sacrifice, determination and joy in Thailand where twelve boys, one-by-one have been rescued by courageous men from many countries working together.

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Trees - Marvel of the Universe


I have always been struck by the beauty of trees: majestic pecans, towering oaks and whispering pines of Texas, the blue spruce,  crab apple and maple of Minnesota, the cottonwood and quaking aspen of Colorado.

Trees are majestic, mysterious and essential to our existence on earth.  They sprout from tiny seeds that can be held in the hand.  They send their roots deep beneath the earth and extend their limbs to the sky as if in prayer, transforming soil and light into substance.  They bear the snow of winter and explode with blossoms in spring. They whisper in a gentle breeze and howl when the storm whips their branches.  Their life-giving leaves filter the air to produce the oxygen that we breathe. 

They give shelter to the birds that build their nests, perch among their leaves and sing their songs.  Forests form the homes and habitat for wildlife. For thousands of years the trees have provided the wood with which we build our homes, fashion our furniture, warm ourselves in winter and produce the paper to preserve our written records.  They feed both man and beast with their nuts and fruit.

Trees remind us of those who have gone before, those who planted them and those who lived among them. We sit in their shade in summer as our mothers and fathers sat in an earlier day.

The oldest trees date back more than two millennia. The “Arbol del Tul,” a Montezuma Cypress in Mexico has the widest trunk on earth and may be 3,000 years old.  Some of the olive trees in Gethsemane are at least 900 years old and likely descended from the very trees that shadowed Jesus when he prayed.

The “Cotton Tree” in Sierre Leone marks the place where freed slaves gathered beneath its branches to give thanks for their freedom in 1792.  “General Sherman,” the Giant Sequoia, one of the largest trees on earth is believed to be between 2,300 and 2,700 years old. The 500 year old “Treaty Oak” in Austin, Texas was once the sacred meeting place for Comanche and Tonkawa Indians. Stephen F. Austin met with them beneath its branches to form the first peace treaty for his colony.

The redemptive story of the Bible begins and ends with trees.  It starts with the “Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil” in Genesis and ends with the “Tree of Life” in Revelation.  Psalm 96 proclaims, “Let the field exult, and all that is in it. Then all the trees of the forest will sing for joy before the Lord, for He is coming!”

In the fullness of time God chose a tree in the form of the Cross to accomplish our redemption. The Bible says, “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”— in order that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles.” (Galatians 3:13-14).

Trees remind us of God’s goodness and grace by which he created the beauty of the earth and redeemed us for his glory.

Friday, June 29, 2018

What Your Won't Do For Yourself


 Left to myself, I will sit around and vegetate. I know that other people don’t do this, but I do. When I look across the room at my dog who follows me from room to room and is happy to be wherever I am, I know that he needs to walk. So, I get up, put on my shoes, find his leash and off we go. It is good for him and it is good for me. What I won’t do for myself I will do for my dog.

This little act highlights an important point I have discovered. We all need to be motivated for someone or something outside ourselves. I have heard it said, “If you won’t do it for someone else, do it for yourself!” But I have discovered that doing it for myself is the lowest and weakest motivator in my life.

Some have assumed that our democratic system works because it is based on self-interest. If everyone looks out for himself, seeks to make the biggest profit and accumulate the most wealth, it all just seems to work out for everybody. But that isn’t true. Our democratic system works because people are willing to sacrifice their own self-interest in the interest of others. The key to American democracy is selfless altruism. Not greed.

Life is not like Monopoly. We don’t win by owning the largest number of properties, raising the rent and amassing stacks of money on our side of the board until we drive everyone else into bankruptcy. That might work for a board game, but even then the players seldom feel good about it. In life we win by giving ourselves away.

We are made in such a way that we must be called to something higher. We will endure great pain, hardship, discipline and even death for people we love and causes that challenge us.

When we live our lives and make our decisions based upon self-interest and self-gratification we are led into dead end tributaries, into a shallow existence that results in isolation and loneliness. When we choose to orient our lives around serving and helping others, we launch out into the deep where we discover meaning and fulfillment.

Howard Hughes, one of the wealthiest men of the twentieth century who spent lavishly to indulge his whims and idiosyncrasies, died a recluse, lonely, isolated and mentally deranged. The FBI had to resort to fingerprints in order to identify his body.

Mother Teresa, who was penniless, spent her life caring for the poor, sick, orphaned and dying. When she died in 1997 the Missionaries of Charity, which she founded, had over one million co-workers serving the “poorest of the poor” in 123 countries. In 2010, the 100th anniversary of her birth, she was honored around the world.

This is why the Scripture urges us to put others first. “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of others.” (Philippians 2:3-4).  Jesus said, “Give and it shall be given to you, good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over shall men give into your bosom.”  (Luke 6:38).

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Does God Exist? Does Life Matter? What Happens When We Die?


I always liked Stephen Hawking.  I admired his brilliance and the courage he demonstrated in his fight with ALS.  In March Dr. Hawking died at 76.  A couple weeks ago, June 15, his ashes were buried in Westminster Abbey between the graves of Charles Darwin and Isaac Newton.

Hawking was diagnosed with ALS in 1963 when he was 21. The doctors gave him two years to live. For 55 years he defied the odds.  His best known work, “A Brief History of Time,” sold more than three million copies.

I was saddened a few years ago when he said, “I regard the brain as a computer which will stop working when its components fail. There is no heaven or afterlife for broken down computers; that is a fairy story for people afraid of the dark.”

It is difficult for me to comprehend how such a brilliant mind can reach the conclusion that all we observe in the universe is an accident, that there is no intelligent force or design behind our existence.  It seems as illogical to me as finding a state-of-the-art functioning PC in the desert and concluding it just accidentally evolved from nowhere. 

The question Hawking dealt with is bigger than any religion or denominational expression. It is also bigger than science.  It is a question we all must face and answer.  How we answer it makes a great deal of difference in how we live and how meaningful our lives are. 

Hawking concluded that since there is no God, humans should seek to live the most valuable lives they can while on Earth.  This too, makes no sense to me. If there is no God  we are sucked into a black hole of non-existence and non-meaning.  What does it matter?

If we argue that love matters then we are thrown back into the very lap of God.  Love is the greatest and most mysterious reality in our existence, eclipsing all other discoveries.  Who wants to live in a world of technological perfection and scientific achievement without love?  A loveless world would leave us shallow, fragmented, lonely, isolated, fearful, and miserable.

Here lies the greatest truth:  “God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.”  (1 John 4:16).  “We love because He first loved us.” “God demonstrated His love toward us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us.”

Faith or non-faith is a choice.  We can choose to believe that our world is the result of a creative God who desired and designed our existence from the tiniest molecule to the most distant star or we can choose not to believe. The historical resurrection of Jesus makes this more than wishful thinking.

For my part, I will choose love, faith and the promise of eternal life in Jesus Christ. 

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Lessons from the Border


The America I grew up in was seen as the shining light on a hill.  We took pride in the inscription on the Statue of Liberty: "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

Instead of decimating our enemies after World War II, we helped them rebuild.  Germany and Japan embraced freedom and prosperity and became two of our strongest allies.  

We fought and died in the jungles of Vietnam, not for ourselves, but for others.  In its aftermath we welcomed Vietnamese and Hmong refugees who integrated into our cities.  Christian churches sprang up among various groups: Vietnamese, Chinese, Laotian, Thai, Korean, Liberian, Nigerian and many others.  Spanish speaking churches exploded and continue to thrive.  The Christian faith swept across South Korea until it became the second largest mission sending nation in the world.

When I visited Brazil I was welcomed as a celebrity because I was an American.  Children ran through the streets and people crowded in the windows to see someone from the United States. When I served briefly as pastor of an English speaking church in Nuremburg Germany older Germans often expressed their gratitude for GIs who helped them rebuild their nation.  We thought of ourselves as a generous and welcoming nation, blessed by God to bless the nations of the world.

But all of that seems to be changing.  We are well down the road of putting “America first.”  The question is no longer, what is best for mankind, for the world and for posterity, but what is best for us.  The MAGA has transitioned into a “me first” mentality.

Instead of asking, how can we help out neighbor nations fight the gang violence and corruption that causes families to flee to our borders, we ask only, “how can we keep these people out?” Children are torn from the arms of their desperate parents as punishment for seeking a safe asylum in the United States.  In our efforts to “make American great again” we seem to be losing the values that made America great in the first place.

Our movies, our media and our politics portray us as a covetous people.  We seem to have adopted Gordon Gekko’s maxim that “greed is good.”  We have turned a deaf ear to the tenth commandment: “You shall not covet.” (Exodus 20:17).

The Apostle Paul confessed that this commandment was his undoing. “I would not have known what coveting really was if the law had not said, ‘You shall not covet.’  But sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, produced in me every kind of coveting.’” Romans 7:7-8).

When we start down this self-centered path we sow the seeds of future calamity in our communities, our nation and the world. “What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet, but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight.” (James 4:1-2).

Paul’s conclusion is applicable for all of us: “The commandments, ‘You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” You shall not steal, “You shall not covet,” and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’” (Romans 13:9).

Sunday, June 10, 2018

A Crisis of Deception - Who Can We Trust?


There was a day when we felt we could trust those who spoke to us, the Presidents who led us and the journalists who interpreted the news.  We believed Washington “could not tell a lie.”  Lincoln was known for his honesty.  We always knew we could trust Walter Cronkite, whether he was reporting the assassination of JFK or describing the first lunar landing. But those days seem naive and far away. 

The world has become much more complex.  The truth is far more difficult to discern.  Nixon’s claim that he was no crook and Clinton’s assertion that he “never had sex with that woman,” eroded our trust in the Presidency.  Today we feel caught between “fake news” and “alternate realities.”  Brian Williams and Matt Lauer left us disillusioned with journalists.  We hardly know who to believe.

Former NY Mayor, Michael Bloomberg, speaking at Rice University’s commencement, stated that we are facing “an epidemic of dishonesty … an endless barrage of lies and alternate realities.”  …“ The greatest threat to American democracy isn’t communism, jihadism or any other external force or foreign power,” he said. “It’s our own willingness to tolerate dishonesty in service of party, and in pursuit of power.” 

NBC News reporter Andrew Rafferty said, “We live in a world where lying has become an art.  Politicians, celebrities, characters on the screen, all lie.  They do so convincingly and without remorse.  And technology has moved prevarication into a whole new realm.  The world where ‘seeing is believing’ has vanished.”

The ninth commandment is essential to personal, relational and societal health. “You must not lie.” (Exodus 20:16 Living Bible).

When we ignore God’s instructions on truthfulness and honesty, we sow the seeds of our own misery and destruction. Whether marriage, family, business or politics; in the home, the school, the work place and the world.  

So, what should we do?  First, we must practice telling the truth to our children, to one another, in business and personal relationships.  Above all, we must be known to be honest. We must not lie.

Second, we must practice discernment. We cannot believe everything we hear and see at face value, especially social media that has little or no accountability.   “Do not be deceived,” the Bible says, “God is not mocked. A man reaps what he sows.” (Galatians 6:7).  And again, “Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren.  Every good thing given and every perfect gift from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.” (James 1:16-17).


Third, we must place our trust in the One who alone is truthful, honest and above reproach.  We must trust God, confident that He knows our hearts, our secret thoughts and every word we speak.  “Let God be found true, though every man be found a liar.” (Romans 3:4).  Jesus said, “If you continue in my word then you are truly disciples of mine; and you will know the truth and the truth will make you free.” (John 8:31-32).

Saturday, June 2, 2018

Eighth Commandment Property Priorities


An Atlanta businessman boarded MARTA to make his daily commute to work.  He stood in the crowded car scanning the newspaper accounts of crime when he felt a stranger bump him.  He instinctively felt for the wallet in his back pocket and found it missing.  He folded the paper and kept his eye on the stranger who had moved to the opposite side of the car.  When the train stopped and the stranger exited, he followed.  His rage continuing to grow, he grabbed the stranger and threw him up against the wall.  His face crimson with wrath he demanded, “Okay Bub, hand over that wallet.”  The stranger, trembling, placed the wallet in his hand. Without looking the businessman shoved the wallet into his pocket and stomped off to work.  When he arrived at his office his secretary stopped him.  “You  have a message from your wife,” She said.  “You left your wallet on the night stand at home!”

I suppose all of us have been victims of theft.  Shortly after we married we drove to Houston to visit my wife’s mother in the hospital.  I left our car parked on the street filled with our clothes on hanging rods. When we returned, we were clothes-less.  Most of us have lost bicycles at college. Some have had home break-ins with far more serious losses. My wallet fell out of my pocket at a theater once.  I found it a few days later, sans cash and credit cards. 

Theft is widespread.   Every day the eighth commandment is broken: “You shall not steal.” (Exodus 20:15).

The first step in respecting other people is respecting property.  It is one of the first lessons we teach to toddlers.  Some toys belong to them. Some toys belong to their friends. It is not an easy lesson for a toddler, and some never learn it.

The Atlantic cited a study that concluded that out of 1 million self-check transactions totaling $21 million, merchandise totaling $850,000 left the store without being scanned. 

The rich and the well-off are just as guilty as the poor, maybe moreso. We only need launch a Google search for a list of celebrities who have been convicted of shoplifting. White collar crime is rampant. The Association of Certified Fraud Examiners estimated businesses lost $895 billion to fraud in 2016.

As always, Jesus raised the commandment to another level.  We have not fulfilled the heart of the commandment when we refuse to take something that does not belong to us.  We fulfill the commandment when we move beyond seeing property and possession as primary.   People are primary. Jesus said, “If anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well … give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.” (Matthew 5:40-42). 

We can keep the eighth commandment and still live a selfish and self-centered life.

The Bible says, “Give generously and do so without a grudging heart; then, because of this the Lord your God will bless you in all your work and in everything you put your hand to. There will always be poor people in the land.  Therefore I command you to be openhanded.” (Deuteronomy 15:10-11).

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Seventh Commandment: Exalting Marriage


Young families embody the hope and dreams of our future.  Few scenes move me as much as a young couple strolling along the seawall pushing a stroller; fathers splashing in the surf with their children while young mothers lounge on the beach; children laughing in the park flying kites with their fathers, giggling on playgrounds with their mothers.

It is this special bond that God’s seventh commandment seeks to nourish and protect: “You shall not commit adultery.”   Sex, in all of its beauty and pleasure, was given to men and women to celebrate the mystery by which human life is conceived, cradled and nurtured.

The world seemed to stand still a few weeks ago when Prince Harry and Meghan Markle exchanged vows in St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle.  The pomp and pageantry, as only the British can do, touched something in all of us regarding the majesty of marriage.

This year my wife and I celebrate our 50th anniversary along with many of our friends who “pledged their troth” about the same time as we in 1968.  Marriage is worth holding on to, worth working through the difficulties, worth the investment.  The seventh commandment provides the foundation for trust and a love that lasts. It is the foundation of the family where children are born, nurtured and loved.

Many have rejected the Biblical view of marriage.  Somewhere along the way sex became recreational.  I guess this happened around the time birth control was introduced.  It revolutionized sex in the 1960s: free sex with whomever without the consequences of conception. 

Melissa Batchelor Warnke, writing in the L.A. Times expressed current sexual values, I believe that everyone should have exactly as much sex as they do or don't want to have, with whomever they do or don't want to have it, in whatever fashion they do or don't want to have it. So long as consent is present in any resultant exchange, one need not justify their choices.”  

We are witnessing the consequences of the cavalier attitudes spawned over the last half-century. Women are speaking up.  Sexual misconduct and harassment is widespread. Last week Harvey Weinstein returned to court.  Matt Lauer, Bill Cosby and other household names that once commanded respect and adulation are gone leaving behind a trail of disgrace and embarrassment.

As with other commandments, Jesus raised the bar.  “You have heard that it has been said, ‘You shall not commit adultery,’ but I say to you, he who looks on a woman to lust after her has committed adultery with her already in his heart.” (Matthew 5:27).

I like what Jeff Christopherson wrote in his book, Kingdom First, “The husband who faithfully and sacrificially loves his wife over a lifetime not only receives the personal blessing of a joyous marriage, but further, the Kingdom ripples of that union emanate through generations.   Children, grandchildren, colleagues, friends, and neighbors are all secondary recipients of the grace experienced in a godly marriage.”

Monday, May 21, 2018

Sixth Commandment: You Shall Not Murder


It didn’t take long to record the first murder in human history. The Bible’s first death was a homicide.  Cain, enraged with resentment, jealousy and anger attacked his brother and killed him.  Since that moment much of human history has been written in blood. 

We are all too familiar with headline news for mass shootings, terrorist attacks and violent conflict around the world. Just last week another school shooting took place in Santa Fe, Texas. Even small towns are not immune.  Murders occur in every city in every region.  Globally more than one person dies every minute of every day as the result of violence. 

Most of us abhor murder. But we cannot ignore its presence.  On the other hand, most of us accept the necessity of killing in warfare.  We spend billions of dollars every year to make sure our young men and women are equipped and trained to kill on the battlefield.

But, there are exceptions.

Desmond Doss, who served in World War II,   was committed to honor the sixth commandment, “Thou shalt not kill.” He refused to carry a firearm or weapon of any kind into combat.  Instead, he served as an unarmed Medic.  Doss was twice awarded the Bronze Star for exceptional valor under fire in Guam and the Philippines.  At Okinawa he served on Hacksaw Ridge, a particularly vicious battle in which he personally saved the lives of 75 wounded GIs. He was wounded four times and survived with seventeen pieces of shrapnel embedded in his body. He became the first pacifist to be awarded the Medal of Honor.  His story has been captured in several books and a documentary, The Conscientious Objector, along with the movie, Hacksaw Ridge.

Hacksaw Ridge was released on November 4, 2016.  It went on to receive six Oscar nominations including Best Picture and Best Actor.  It also received Golden Globe nominations for Best Picture, Best Director and Best Actor and was chosen as one of the ten best movies of the year by the American Film Institute.

Jesus took the sixth commandment to a new level.  He said, ““You have heard that the ancients were told, ‘You shall not commit murder,’ and ‘Whoever commits murder shall be liable to the court.’ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court; and whoever says to his brother, ‘You good-for-nothing,’ shall be guilty before the supreme court; and whoever says, ‘You fool,’ shall be guilty enough to go into the fiery hell.” (Matthew 5:21-22).

Jesus dug beneath the surface and unearthed the significance of the sixth commandment.  It is all about how we see another human being.  Every person is valuable. Every person deserves respect. Regardless of culture, gender, age or race, every human life is to be treasured.

Jesus was consistent in living out what he taught.  He embraced the outcast and the poor. Every person he met was precious in his sight.  When He was crucified he prayed that God would forgive those who nailed him to the cross and promised paradise to the dying thief.  To obey the sixth commandment, we must do more than refrain from inflicting harm on our enemy, we must embrace every person as a precious creation of God.  

Sunday, May 13, 2018

The First Step for a Whole and Healthy Life

Restaurants were packed, flower shops put on extra staff, greeting card racks were picked over as we honored our mothers.  Next month we will fire up the back yard grills and head to the lakes to honor our fathers.  We know intuitively that this is right. Regardless of our nationality or ethnicity; regardless of whether we are rich or poor, we have this urge inside of us to keep the fifth commandment: “Honor your father and your mother.” It is, as the Apostle Paul reminded us, the first commandment with a promise: “that your days may be long upon the earth.”

My father was diagnosed with multiple myeloma and died when he was 53.  I remember sitting at the kitchen table with him and asking him what he expected.  He said he expected a year of health and a year of decline.   His faith in Christ and the resurrection was strong. As it turned out he had less than four months before he lay dying in a hospital bed while I held his hand.

I never heard one word of profanity from his lips. He loved our mother and he loved us.  He was always full of laughter. I saw him repeatedly choose to be wronged rather than to risk wronging someone else.  The night before he died, he sent a get well card to a friend who was on another floor of the hospital. 

My mother likewise loved God and sought to serve others. She lived as a widow after my father’s death for 35 years.  She chaperoned special-needs kids on the bus and sat with them at church. The day before she died my children gathered around her bed and she blessed them. Most people, like me, have fond memories and great admiration for their mother and father. 

Of course not all fathers and mothers are good.  The relationship between parent and child can be the source of life’s greatest joy as well as its greatest pain. Some live their lives, even into old age, haunted by resentment and anger toward their parents. 

We somehow sense, as witnessed by our obsession with the parent-child relationship in books and movies, that this relationships is essential to health and wholeness. We hear it in King Lear’s complaint, “How sharper than a serpent’s tooth is a thankless child!”  We find it in John Steinbeck’s East of Eden, Luke Skywalker’s discovery that Darth Vador is his father, or Ray Kinsella building a baseball diamond in his Iowa corn field to “ease his pain.”    All of all these stories, and thousands more, reflect our urge to be reconciled to those who gave us birth. 


Health and wholeness for each of us starts with obedience to the fifth commandment, “Honor your father and mother.”  There are no exceptions.  We are not exhorted to “honor those who deserve to be honored.”  Regardless of past hurts, oversights or failures, regardless of our parents’ response, we are to honor mother and father because we are honorable.  In this relationship above all we must apply the admonition of Scripture: “Be kind to one another, tender hearted, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.” (Ephesians 4:32).

Monday, May 7, 2018

Rest for the Weary - 4th Commandment


We live in a time-crunched world. Parents whip up a quick breakfast for bleary-eyed children before bundling them into cars to be dropped off at day-care and school.  Some grab a drive-through burrito before negotiating traffic on the freeways while juggling cell phones. Weary from long hours at work, the same commuters make their way home past memorized billboards. Weekends are filled with a hundred errands, second jobs, T-ball, soccer, football. Church is squeezed into an already full schedule that has no margins. 

The opioid crisis in America may be a symptom of our over-extended and anxious culture. Overdose deaths have quadrupled since 1999.  Over 42,000 Americans died of opioid overdose in 2016.  The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Addiction stated, “Readily available opioids have become “drugs of solace” that mask physical and emotional pain in a world offering little hope that conditions will improve.”
A recent report from the American Psychological Association stated, “Chronic stress is increasingly eating away at our overall well-being.” … “The psychological and physical toll of stress in America will undoubtedly continue to snowball if something doesn't change.”

Somewhere along the way we eliminated the fourth commandment as irrelevant and archaic: “Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy.” A half-century ago, most businesses were closed on Sunday and youth sporting events recognized Sunday as a day for worship. All that has changed. Today our calendars are filled up to a 24/7 frenzy.

When Jesus said that man was not made for the Sabbath but the Sabbath was made for man, he affirmed the need for the Sabbath in our lives. He underscored the importance of the Sabbath to all of us for mental, emotional, spiritual and physical health.

In 1924 Scotland’s Eric Liddell, the fastest runner in the world, refused to compete at the Olympics on the Sabbath.  When the King of England commanded him to run for his country on Sunday, Liddell respectfully replied he had a higher king.  The Academy Award winning movie, Chariots of Fire portrays Liddell reading Isaiah 40:31 to a congregation on Sunday while young men stumble and fall on the mud-splattered track. “Those who wait for the Lord will gain new strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not faint.”  The next week, Liddell ran the 400 meter and won the gold. In 1925 he gave up his athletic career to serve as a missionary in China where he died 20 years later in a Japanese prison camp.

Sabbath requires time for rest, silence, solitude and worship, but it is more than a day of rest. It is a way of life that is filled with wonder, worship, awe and delight. When Jesus declared himself the Lord of the Sabbath, he offered to us a better way. He said, “Come unto me all you who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn of me, for I am gentle and humble in heart and you will find rest to your souls.”

Monday, April 30, 2018

What's In A Name?


The world waited most of a week to learn the name of England’s new prince, born to William and Kate on Monday, April 23. Finally, on Friday, we were introduced to His Royal Highness Prince Louis of Cambridge.  For much of the next century we will likely follow Prince Louis alongside his brother and sister, Prince George and Princess Charlotte.

Names are important to us.  My youngest grandson was born a year ago.  He knows his name.  When we call his name he turns and looks. He knows we are speaking to him.  Even my dog knows his name.  When I speak his name his corgi ears pop up, his eyes are alert.  Nothing compels us like the sound of our name.

Names give us entrance. When someone knows our name, we listen.

When God commissioned Moses to deliver his people from Egypt, Moses asked, “Whom shall I say has sent me?”  God responded, “Tell them, I AM THAT I AM has sent you.”  The Israelites captured this name with the Hebrew letters YHWH.  The name was too holy to be spoken.  When they came to God’s name in Scripture, they inserted the word, “Adonai” meaning “Lord.”

The third of the Ten Commandments recognizes that God has entrusted to us something special, something precious. “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.” (Exodus 20:7) He has invited us into relationship with Him.  He has given us His name.  We must not take this for granted. David sang, “Therefore I will give thanks to you among the nations, O Lord, and I will sing praises to your name.”  (Psalm 18:49).

Isaiah looked forward to a new name God would give us.  He wrote, “For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will [a]rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6).

Isaiah’s prophecy was fulfilled when the angel announced the Messiah’s birth to Mary and Joseph and instructed them, “You shall call His name Jesus for He shall save His people from their sins.”    God has chosen to redeem and transform us through that “name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow,of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2:9-11).

This is an awesome thing.  The God of the universe, who created the expanse of the galaxies, who designed the sub-atomic particles, who gave breath and life to every creature, God, who made us in His own image, has given us His name that we might be exalted to know Him, honor Him and adore Him.

How then could we possibly use His name as an expression of amazement, consternation or anger?  How can we possibly live without thought of His greatness, goodness and grace?

Monday, April 23, 2018

Escaping the Image Makers


Christine Rosen, writing in The New Atlantis, stated, “Americans love images. We love the democratizing power of technologies — such as digital cameras, video cameras, Photoshop, and PowerPoint — that give us the capability to make and manipulate images. What we are less eager to consider are the broader cultural effects of a society devoted to the image.”

Images for idol worship have always been about manipulation, attempts to manipulate gods to control our circumstances and to control others around us.  Our current image culture is no different.  We create images to control our destinies and to control others.  Idolatry is about manipulation.  But, God will not be manipulated.  He will not be used for our personal advancement or the control of other people. 

We have become a people controlled by images.

The recent controversies over Facebook and Russian interference through the manipulation of social media is a case in point.  Images make a difference.  They influence our thinking and our action.  We are bombarded constantly on smart phones, tablets, TVs and laptops.  Some have linked the recent rise in teen suicides with the surge in social media.

This is why God gave us the second of the Ten Commandments, “You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below.  You shall not bow down to them or worship them.” (Exodus 20:4-5). 

God wants to free us from the image-makers who seek to control our minds and distort our values.

The image culture invades our churches when we assume that worship requires the assistance of sound systems, amplifiers, video screens, special lighting and special effects, when we create our own Christian pop-culture complete with celebrities. We ought to be reminded that in Jesus’ day authentic worship took place on hillsides, seashores, and in houses where two or three were gathered together in His Name.

The author of creation made us in His own image. When we know Him we are truly free to know ourselves and others as we truly are, created in His image with unlimited potential for love and good works. For this reason God sent His Son, so that we might know the only image that can set us free. “He is the image of the invisible God, the first-born of all creation.” (Colossians 1:15). 

This is the definition of sin: attempting to live life on our own terms in our own image and becoming addicted to our man-made idols.  N.T, Wright put it this way, “Since sin, the consequence of idolatry, is what keeps humans in thrall to the non-gods of the world, dealing with sin has a more profound effect than simply releasing humans to go to heaven. It releases humans from the grip of the idols, so they can worship the living God and be renewed according to his image.”

When we believe in Jesus and place our trust in Him, we are empowered to become like Him.  We are set free from the image makers that lead down paths of addiction and depression.  “Those whom He foreknew he predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son.” (Romans 8:29).  

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Putting God First

I grew up in the Tom Landry era of the Dallas Cowboys.  When he was hired for the expansion team in 1960 they had little prospect for success. After going winless in their first season, Landry told the team his priorities were God, family and football, in that order.  Bob Lilly, who had just joined the team as the All American recruit from TCU said to himself, “We will never win.”  Under Landry they went on to appear in 5 Super Bowl games, winning two. His 20 playoff wins is second most in NFL history.

I heard Tom Landry speak at the Billy Graham Crusade when Texas Stadium was built. He described his emptiness when he achieved each of his career goals as a star running back for the University of Texas and all-pro defensive back for the NY Giants.  He quoted Augustine, “Our hearts are restless indeed, O God, until they find their rest in Thee.”  A year before he became the first coach of the Dallas Cowboys, he came to faith in Christ and gave God first place in his life.

Similarly, Jordan Spieth at 24 has already won three major golf championships.  When asked about his priorities he said, “My faith, then my family and then, after that, you know, this is what I love to do.  Golf is not number 1 in my life.”

Our oldest son had difficulty “launching” when he grew up.  His first semester in college he passed racquet ball.  It was the only course he attended.  His second semester he was on probation.  It was a struggle, for him and for us.

During this time I told him he needed to put God first in his life.  “If you put God first,” I said, “everything else will come into focus.”  His response wasn’t immediate. It took several years, including boot camp in the Marine Corps. But he followed through and put God first.  Everything else came into focus. Today he is a wonderful husband and father of three teen-agers, leads a Bible study for high school youth and has a successful career in Information Technology.

The first of the Ten Commandments is God’s invitation for us to know Him.  “You shall have no other gods before me.”  This is amazing. The creator of the universe wants to have a personal relationship with us in which He alone takes first place.  If He is not first in our life, He is not God. Everything starts here.  Life comes into focus when God becomes the priority of our life.

Sometimes we are drawn away from God by personal pleasures and the pursuit of sin. Sometimes we are drawn away by things that simply make us too busy for God.  We think we know what is best and we pursue our goals and dreams without taking time to submit those goals and dreams to God.  


In His sermon on the mount Jesus addressed the fragmented life that is filled with worry and anxiety.  He said, “Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (Matthew 6:33).

Monday, April 9, 2018

Finding our Moral Footing


For centuries Western Civilization has embraced the Ten Commandments as the bedrock for law and conduct. But, in the twenty-first century, such an assumption no longer holds true. Bit by bit the Ten Commandments are being chiseled from their central position in our culture.

In 2001, after a two-year legal battle, a 5,280 lb. granite Ten Commandments monument was removed from the rotunda of the Alabama State Capital.

In 2004 the Sixth District Court of Appeals in Kentucky ruled that the Ten Commandments could no longer be displayed in public schools and courthouses. To do so, the court ruled, would be an endorsement of religion.

In 2014, followers of the pagan faith, Wicca, sued the city of Bloomfield, N.M. over a 3,000 pound Ten Commandments monument that stood in front of the City Hall. The court ruled the monument had to be removed as a violation of First Amendment rights.

In June 2015 the Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled that the presence of the Ten Commandments on the capitol grounds was unconstitutional. On October 5, under cover of darkness, the 4,800 lb. slab of stone was moved from the Oklahoma State Capitol grounds to a private location. 

These reflect sensitive legal issues in our nation that values freedom of religion and separation of church and state. But what is more disturbing than the removal of monuments is the removal of the Ten Commandments from our consciousness.  Few can name them. Stop for a minute and see if you can recall all ten of the commandments?  Can our children or grandchildren quote them?   If we don’t know the Ten Commandments, how can they guide us in our values and action?

Jesus said, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. Therefore anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” (Mathew 5:17-19).

The first four of the Ten Commandments tell us how to have a healthy relationship with God.  The next six tell us how to have healthy relationships with each other.  

Zhao Xiao, a leading economist in China, researched America’s secret to prosperity. He concluded, “... the key to America’s commercial success is not its natural resources, its financial system or its technology but its churches.  ... The market economy is efficient because it discourages idleness, but it can also encourage people to lie and injure others.  It thus needs a moral underpinning.”  Xiao’s conclusions are remarkably similar to Alexis de Tocqueville’s in 1840.

Starting next week, this column will reflect on each of the Ten Commandments and their implications for today.

Sunday, April 1, 2018

The Light Within


Five years ago the earth shook and a mushroom cloud rose above the small town of West, Texas on April 17, 2013.  A devastating chemical explosion leveled a large section of the town killing fifteen and injuring more than 200.  Last year a memorial was constructed near the site so that those who were there might never forget.

Two days before the West explosion terrorist bombs ripped through crowds gathered near the finish line of the Boston Marathon. Three were killed and 264 were injured.  The bombings have not stopped the race.  This year, on April 16 more than 30,000 will participate in the 122nd running.  

Authorities eventually determined the West tragedy was the result of arson. The Boston bombing was an act of terror.  But both cases are remembered by remarkable stories of courage, faith and determination.

On the first anniversary in West, a choir sang Amazing Grace while surrounded with flickering candles on which students wrote, “Rise Up West!”  CNN reported, “Residents say their faith has been instrumental in understanding and dealing with last April's tragedy. Montgomery Irwin says the anniversary falling so close to Easter -- with its message of resurrection and renewal -- is especially appropriate for the people of West.”

When the bombs exploded in Boston, many ran for their lives.  Carlos Arrendo did the opposite.  Not knowing if another bomb might be set to detonate, he tore through the fences to get to the victims and render aid.  He rescued 27 year old John Bauman whose lower leg had been blown away. Carolos, 52, was attending the marathon to honor his son who was killed in Iraq.

Perhaps the Apostle John had this kind of human resilience in mind when he wrote, “That was the light which coming into the world, enlightens every man.” (John1:9).  Every human being is born with a reflection of that light that is at the source of creation.  In some way we are like the clouds that reflect the rising sun, streaked with crimson, purple and gold prior to the sun’s entrance. Often in our moments of greatest heartache and difficulty we reflect the greater glory.  But when the sun rises, its brilliance supersedes everything that has gone before.

This may be what Zecharias meant when he said, “The sunrise from on high has visited us!” (Luke 1:78).  Or John, when he wrote, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, glory as the only begotten Son of God.”  (John 1:14).  All of our expressions of courage, faith and determination, mixed as they are with our shortcomings and our sins, are but dim reflections of the perfect light that is found in God.

It seems fitting that before the anniversaries of these two tragic events, the world paused to celebrate Easter and the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. Seeking comfort, consolation and inspiration, we turned our eyes toward that event in human history when God entered into our suffering through His Son and overcame death and the grave.

Our human resilience reflects not on our own glory, but on the glory of Him who made us in His image, Who sent His Son to forgive us our sins and transform us into children of light. He is the source of all comfort and all strength.