What Others Say

I am 96, live alone and appreciate every day.
Enjoy your column. God is good
Joe S.
League City, TX

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.”