What Others Say

"Thank you for the words of wisdom in today’s Abilene Reporter News. In the midst of wars violence and pandemics, your words were so soft spoken and calming."

Monday, July 25, 2022


 Laughter is not taught.  It is part of us from birth. Within a few months, long before they can talk, babies laugh.  It is contagious.  Adults join in, doubled over with the laughter and joy of a giggling baby. The laughter of children on a playground is a balm to the soul.

 No other animal does this. It is a unique human trait that God built into our psyche and our soul.  We are not sure what triggers it.  We can seldom predict when it will hit, but we know it is contagious.  When others laugh, we laugh. Sometimes without any idea of what caused it in the first place.  

 We like to be around others who laugh.  It is therapeutic. When I think of my father, I think of him laughing even though he has been gone for decades.  I know my wife is talking to her sister on the phone by the way she laughs, even though they are a thousand miles apart.

 We will pay huge sums for comedians and performers who can make us laugh.  Television sitcoms figured this out over a half century ago. Original laughter tracks used for early TV sitcoms are still employed to accentuate humor for contemporary characters. Many of us are still laughing with generations long gone. 

 But the best laughter is spontaneous. Nothing is as exhilarating and lifting to my soul as the laughter of my grandchildren.  Our youngest are eleven, nine and five.  When they come running out the door leaping into my arms and laughing, whatever burdens I may have felt melt like snow in the sun and I am filled with laughter and joy.

 When Sarah gave birth to Isaac she said, “God has made laughter for me; everyone who hears will laugh with me.” (Genesis 21:6).

 Victory and celebration bring laughter.  Just watch baseball, football and soccer teams who achieve their goals.   We have all joined in the laughter at weddings and graduations. 

 Psalm 126 refers to the joy of those who celebrated their returned to Jerusalem after years of captivity: “When the Lord brought back the captive ones of Zion, we were like those who dream.  Then our mouth was filled with laughter and our tongue with joyful shouting.” (Ps. 126:1-2).

 Perhaps you haven’t laughed in a while.  Perhaps you have been burdened with depression and loneliness.  Do not fear.  God will yet fill your heart with laughter.  Like Sarah, who gave birth in her old age, after enduring decades of ridicule and sorrow. Like the exiles of Jerusalem, who wept by the Euphrates River, far from their home.  God will yet restore laughter to your soul.  You will rejoice.

 The Christian faith is a joyful faith, even in difficult and adverse circumstances. “Shout joyfully all the earth.  Serve the Lord with gladness. Come into His presence with joyful singing!” (Psalm 100).  “Weeping may last for the night, but a shout of joy comes in the morning!”  (Psalm 30:5).

 God takes pleasure in our laughter as mothers and fathers take pleasure in the laughter of their children. He wants to fill your heart with joy.

Tuesday, July 19, 2022


 Under the glaring light of day we may fool ourselves into thinking that we are center stage, that everything revolves around us. But the night gently reminds us that we are, in fact, a small speck in the galaxies of creation.

 The wind, whipped into a hot fury during the day, loses its strength, grows silent and lies down for the night.  Darkness dissipates the day’s heat. Tires that whined on pavement during the day grow silent along with the roar of the engines that drove them.  Crickets tune their instruments and fireflies flit about in the dark. As the sun fades in the west, the lesser lights gradually take their place in the night sky.  The world sleeps.

 Perhaps previous generations were more in tune with God’s creation because they spent more time under the night sky.  Too often, we crawl into our houses and fill the evening hours with noise from our televisions without witnessing the nighttime reminders that were designed to renew the spirit and place each day’s work in perspective.

 Genesis says: “Then God said, ‘Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night, and let them be for signs and for seasons and for days and years; and let them be for lights in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth;’ and it was so. God made the two great lights, the greater light to govern the day, and the lesser light to govern the night; He made the stars also. God placed them in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth, and to govern the day and the night, and to separate the light from the darkness; and God saw that it was good. There was evening and there was morning.”

 David grew up under the stars guarding his father’s flocks.  He wrote, “When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?  Yet you have made him a little lower than God and you crown him with glory and majesty. … How majestic is your name in all the earth,” (Psalm 8). … “Give thanks to Him … who made the moon and stars to rule by night, for his loving kindness is everlasting,” (Psalm 136:9)

 “Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord from the heavens; Praise Him in the heights! Praise Him, all His angels; Praise Him, all His hosts! Praise Him, sun and moon; Praise Him, all stars of light!  Praise Him, highest heavens, and the waters that are above the heavens!

Let them praise the name of the Lord, For He commanded and they were created,” (Psalm 148:1-6).

 When the night falls, we sense that God is near.

Tuesday, July 12, 2022

A Matter of Perspective

 Our nine-year-old granddaughter went on a trip with her family and left in our charge her prized pet, a hamster she has nurtured into a fat little rodent.  She wrote out a long list of instructions of how we are to take care of the hamster.

  The little critter reminds my wife of a rat. She is deathly afraid of rats. So, it has fallen to me to take care of the hamster, lovingly named Aspen.  I studied the instructions, did my best to assemble the cages, including the tubes through which the hamster can crawl to his delight. I turned off the light and went to bed.

 During the night, I dreamed that my assembly of the cages was faulty, that somehow the tubing came apart and the little creature escaped, running on the loose in our house.  Worse still, I dreamed that our dog tracked it down and ate it.  It was a nightmare.  How would I explain this to my granddaughter upon her return?

 Before I climbed out of bed, I had already decided that if what I dreamed actually happened, I would make a dash to the local pet store and buy another hamster to replace Aspen.  I told this to my wife.  She said our granddaughter would notice, since Aspen is fat.

 When I looked in, all was well.  Aspen was quietly sitting in his little burrow staring at me with his beady little eyes.  I fed him and watered him, just the way my granddaughter instructed me to do.  I checked the cage. Everything was secure.  So, I relaxed in my recliner beside the window that looks out on our back deck.  That is when I spied Freddie, another rodent much larger than the little vermin I am guarding for my granddaughter, a local squirrel.

 A few weeks ago my wife bought a bird feeder and hung it from a branch of the aspen in our back yard.  Freddie learned to hang by his hind legs and eat all the bird seed from the feeder, scaring away the birds in the process. 

 In a previous house we had squirrels in the attic.  Someone told me they were afraid of owls, so I bought a Styrofoam owl and placed it in the attic. They ignored the owl.  Maybe they couldn’t see the owl, I thought, so I added lights. They still came.  Someone suggested noise.  I added a boom box.  They invited their friends and had a party.  

 Aspen is a pet. Freddie and his friends are pests. So, what makes the difference?  The difference, I guess, is not in the hamster or the squirrel. The difference is in how we choose to view them.  Maybe the same thing is true about people.  Some we see as “pets.”  We treasure them and want to be around them.  Others we view as “pests.”  We find them a nuisance and try to avoid them. How do I view my neighbors?  Are they “pets” or “pests.” 

 When Jesus was asked to define the term “neighbor” he told the story of the Good Samaritan. When he chose the Samaritan to illustrate the definition of a neighbor, he chose someone the Jews considered a “pest.”  That is how he defined the commandment, “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

Tuesday, July 5, 2022

Forever Friends

 Last week we went on an “almost post-Covid” cruise to Alaska. There were still testings and protocols to pass, but the cruise business is back.  What made the week truly spectacular was going with our best friends from college. We had a great time exploring new places and reflecting.  We were young when we first met.  My wife and our friends were fresh from high school graduations in Texas and Kentucky.  I was older and wiser by a year or two. 

 After we married, we gathered in each other’s apartments as penniless newly-weds and played games, affordable and unforgettable entertainment. Our paths parted when we started our families. Identical twin girls for them, three children stretched over 13 years for us.  We stayed in touch at a distance.

 Fifty years later, our children are grown.  They are advancing in their careers and raising our grandchildren.  We have completed most of our journey, in good health and full of memories, hoping to remain useful and finish well.

 We are thrilled to make new friends for whom we are grateful, but we shared our youth with these friends when we were trying to figure out our own identity and had little idea of the direction our paths would take. We have other friends from our childhoods and our careers whom we love.  Some drifted away.  Some died. But this couple stuck.  Nothing can reproduce the treasure we have found. 

.And now that we have re-converged in the late years of our journey we are overwhelmed with gratitude for God’s goodness and grace.  We are more content than we were in our youth. We are still ambitious to do good and to bless others, but we know we are blessed beyond measure in ways we could have never imagined. Only God could do such a thing.

 Friendship gives us a glimpse of the relationship God desires for each of us.  As Proverbs says, “There is a friend that stays closer than a brother.”  (Proverbs 18:24).

 After three years walking the hills of Galilee and Judea, Jesus explained his relationship with the twelve in these terms:   Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command.  I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.” (John 15:13-15).

 No matter who we are or where we came from; no matter our race, gender or age, God desires to be our friend. He desires to lead us on our journey, from beginning to end.  An old hymn perhaps expresses it best, “I’ve found a Friend, oh, such a Friend!   He loved me ere I knew Him; He drew me with the cords of love,   and thus He bound me to Him. And round my heart still closely twine, those ties which naught can sever. For I am His, and He is mine, forever and forever.”