Thursday, March 21, 2019

False Witness


There is a frightening trend in our society where folks accuse or make up stories about others. In this era of the 24 hour news cycle and social media people are not just implicated of something, they are indicted before all the evidence is in. I know that some think the Ten Commandments are just suggestions but God hates false witness or slander. Words have consequences and the innocent have their lives ruined by lying tongues. In our polarized culture infected with “tribalism” one side is always trying to get “one up” on the other in hopes to “win points” for their constituency. The sad thing is that lives and reputation are destroyed in the process. Ephesians 4:25 says, “Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another.” False witness is a sin because it destroys, the reason the 8th Commandment says, “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.” Followers of Jesus are called to speak the truth in love, building one another up. My grandmother hated when people were talking about someone else and would reply, “If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” Lord, in this age of falsehood, may I speak words of encouragement and truth to my neighbor. When we are tempted to share “news” without facts help us to put our tongues in neutral and stay silent. May we all be careful with our Social Media posts. Starting lies about someone or spreading them is bearing false witness, a terrible offense in the sight of a Holy God.

Thursday, March 7, 2019

The Conductor of the Universe


Dr. Don DeYoung, recently retired professor from Grace College and President of the Creation Research Society has a passion for sharing God through Science. Years ago I was working on a degree program and needed some science credit. I decided to take an Astronomy class at Grace where I first met Don. I was amazed at how he could take complex ideas and make them understandable. We learned about stars, planets, comets, our sun and other celestial objects as the classes progressed. One of the requirements was to observe the stars at night together. It was winter and the evening “the Prof” picked for us was frigid with crystal clear skies. We stood huddled together listening as he took us on a tour of the universe from our vantage point in Winona Lake. He said something I will never forget, “See the orchestra? All of the pieces of the symphony of the stars and planets are directed by God. The conductor is the Creator of the music of the heavens and keeps everthing in place..” Who can’t look into the night sky and not at least wonder? The Psalmist once wrote, “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge.” This past January 20th I stepped out into the cold to view the wonder of a Super Blood Wolf Moon. The satellite slipped into the Earth’s shadow turning it a beautiful red when the eclipse was full. The Conductor reached a crescendo with His solar and lunar sections complimenting one another just as I had been taught. Thanks Don for teaching me and hundreds over the years that God has everything under control!

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Coach K


1977. Jimmy Carter was President of the United States. Star Wars was the top box office draw. Atari 2600 was released in the United States. Jim Kessler started coaching Men’s Basketball at Grace College. 42 years later and over 1300 games “Coach K” has decided to hand the baton off to Scott Moore next season. Over 780 victories, 10 Conference Championships and an NAIA National Championship in 1992. Who can forget that season in the little “cracker box” gym when the cheers were, “Is this not a basketball?” Gathering during the Championship game to watch it on the “big screen” as we cheered David James, Scott Blum and the rest of the Lancers to victory. When I read about his retirement “Coach K” is more than statistics and accomplishments as he “retires”. (He is going to serve as Special Assistant to the Athletic Director). What has set him apart these four decades is that he loves his players and students. How many has he mentored over the years and helped to develop into winners not only on the court but in life? I do not know him well but just watching one can tell how much he cares for others. The amazing thing is that he has done this over four decades at the same institution which now has a court named in his honor at the MOCC. Philippian 3:14 is his favorite verse, “I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” We need more like Kessler in 2019 who as Followers of Christ put their faith into action. When the last buzzer sounds and his coaching career ends we all will say, “Well done good and faithful servant!” When time runs out on the clock of our lives may Jesus say the same to all of us in eternity!

Thursday, February 7, 2019

Choose Life

My mother went to be with the Lord this past summer. I have had many moments remembering times when I visited her in Iowa. One time we were in the living room watching the news when there was a report about abortion. “How can anyone kill a child?”, she lamented as tears rolled down her cheeks. In February 1963 on Lincoln’s Birthday my mother lost my sister, Sandra, in childbirth. She grieved the rest of her life up to the day she died asking, “Do you think I will see her again one day?” The recent news on the abortion front has been appalling. This is not a political but a moral statement. A nation that allows the killing of children from conception to birth will not survive. History has proven over and over that any nation that devalues life, especially children, the disabled and elderly eventually collapses. The early Christians rescued Roman children who were put out for “exposure” to die if the parents did not want them. I have read about my Viking heritage where the Christians made an impact by rescuing the unwanted and changed their society. They did so because life does not come from the mother (or father) but from God Almighty. He is the giver and taker of life, who even in the Constitution of the United States is called the Creator. The Bible puts it poetically in Psalm 139:13-14, “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” This obsession with infanticide does not go unnoticed by God and He will judge America no different than other nations. But He also has mercy and grace. For the one who has been involved in having, encouraging, performing or legislating abortion there is forgiveness in Jesus. He calls us individually and as a nation to repent and turn from our sinful, wicked ways. There is also hope as a follower of Christ. If you have lost a child, even from abortion, one day you will see them again because they are held in God’s hand. My sisters and I encouraged our faithful Mother in her last moments, “Sandra is waiting for you.” She turned and looked at us with the biggest smile. When she died she left a testimony of peace on her face. It must be quite a celebration in Heaven! Choose Life...

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Shepherds

After the birth of the King of all Kings the appearance of angels visiting shepherds is an interesting twist. They are out in the country tending sheep. Suddenly the starry sky is filled with beings telling them not to be afraid, something wonderful has happened! I’m sure they wondered why these celestial visitors came to them, lowly agricultural workers. They were instructed to go to Bethlehem and see this child who has been born. One of my Pastors, Scott Greene of WCC, threw in one of his rabbit trail thoughts recently in a message, “What did the shepherds do after the Angels gave them the news? They didn’t go to a local department store and buy gifts for one another! They went to see Jesus!” Christmas is a time for giving but if we don’t take time for Jesus...it really can be hollow and empty. The Shepherds, unlikely recipients of unbelievable news, headed to see the babe in the manger. Joseph and Mary must have been pretty surprised when they showed up with their flock! But Luke tells us, “When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them.” (Luke 2:17-18) Christmas can be a stressful and lonely time for many. Part of the reason may be that we focus too much on gifts, gatherings and galas. This Christmas focus on The Gift, Jesus Christ, and like those herdsmen of yore share the Good News of His love, grace and mercy to your neighbors, friends and strangers. Go shopping, attend events and serve with a better attitude everyone will appreciate. Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Plastic Jesus

I stopped at Central Park to take a break and look at the Nativity Scene. Joseph, Mary and Jesus made of plastic with lights inside glowing at night. It reminds those who pass of the real “Reason For The Season.” I wonder if there are times when people look at followers of Jesus (I’m including myself) and see us being synthetic. The world is starved for that which is real and don’t need factitious religious folks. Many years ago William Booth, the founder of The Salvation Army, was asked about a new translation of the Bible and whether Christians should be reading it instead of the King James Version. Booth’s answer was very insightful, “"I want to see a new translation of the Bible into the hearts and conduct of living men and women." He was alluding to verses like Colossians 3:16 that says, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly…” The figures in that Nativity scene are clean, serene and lifeless. Not like the young couple who travelled far and delivered a child in a smelly stable surrounded by livestock. Jesus, the Word of God, put on skin and lived in this messy world showing us The Way. His followers are not called to be statues but living witnesses who reach out in this chaotic world with His love and mercy. Christ should be “translated” into our daily actions as our lives are gifts to “Others” sharing the Good News of Christmas throughout the year!

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Trusting God

Watching the 24 hour news cycle can be rather daunting at times. The competition drives the reporters to sensationalize current events. I am not diminishing that there is pain and suffering in our world today. We should never grow callous to the cries of others. One reporter was talking about the issues of our day and saying that this is one of the darkest moments in our history. I almost laughed out loud. Yes, we are divided and I pray we can find unity to solve our problems but we are blessed in so many ways. Take one hundred years ago. The “war to end all wars” had concluded with over 116 thousand killed and more than 200,000 wounded Americans. The numbers for other nations were staggering. During the war the worst flu pandemic in the history broke out. Over 500 million were infected worldwide and estimates of 50 to 100 million died, primarily healthy younger adults. Walking through Oakwood Cemetery one day I noticed in the older section many markers with 1918 or 1919 as the death year, many infants and young. Imagine the fear gripping Kosciusko County in those days! During World War I, President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed on May 11, 1918: “‘It being the duty peculiarly incumbent in a time of war humbly and devoutly to acknowledge our dependence on Almighty God and to implore His aid and protection...I, Woodrow Wilson...proclaim...a Day of Public Humiliation, Prayer and Fasting, and do exhort my fellow-citizens...to pray Almighty God that He may forgive our sins.” Though public assembly was discouraged a few months later to reduce infection, calls for prayer to Almighty God spread across the globe. At the end of the pandemic 3-5 % of the world’s population had died. Today is not the darkest moment in our history. The murkiness of our day is that as a Nation we continue to push God out of our public life. A century ago the United States heeded the Word of God, “Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I shall rescue you, and you will honor Me." - Psalm 50:15. In these days it would behoove us to look to the God we proclaim we trust and ask Him to forgive us of our sins. Live not knowing what the future holds, but always seeking and thanking the One who holds the future.