Monday, August 27, 2018

Slow Down!


[Photo of a school zone]

“In the morning, O Lord, you hear my
voice; in the morning I lay my requests
before you and wait in expectation.”
—Psalm 5:3

School Zone: When Flashing—15 MPH. I drove by these city schools often and it seemed so unnatural to go so slowly when I impatiently wanted to get to my destination. Even my car seemed to balk at this slow rate. Yet, police watched these areas closely. Nearly everyone, in a kind of reverential fear, obeyed the signs and slowed down.

They remind me of the school days when, as a public school teacher, I would speed through my daily preparations in my classroom without taking the time to slow down and pray. Yes, I had spent time at home committing the day to the Lord. But, I should have slowed down long enough to pray for each class I would see and even for individual students. I know teachers who regularly touch each desk and pray that the Lord will bless the students who will sit there during the day. I even know one teacher who touched the door frame of her door and asked the Lord to bless all who would enter the classroom that day.

Now, I no longer have the responsibility of managing a classroom. What can those of us Christians on the outside do to affect the work within our public and private schools? When you drive through a School Zone, let it prod you to slow down and pray for that school. The forces of evil remain strong. Only the power of an Almighty God can intervene in the educational systems and individual buildings of the schools in our country.

We need to remember those who carry the presence of Christ in their lives within our schools every day: teachers, administrators, staff members, Board of Education members, and students. We need to pray for the safety of our schools and place all those who work there under the protection of our powerful God. We need to pray that truth would prevail and that Christian students would have equal, unbiased treatment.

With so much at stake concerning the education of our future generations, won’t you please join me in the challenge to pray for the schools in our neighborhoods?

May God have mercy and grant overwhelming blessings upon them all!



Monday, August 20, 2018

Refusing the Remedy


[Photo of a child refusing medicine]

“These are the scriptures that testify about me,
yet you refuse to come to me to have life.”
—John 5:39-40

Neither a child spitting out his or her medicine, nor an old man refusing “any more pills,” do themselves any favors when it comes to their healing. When a remedy exists, it is wise to take advantage of it.

Even in Jesus’ time, He met people who didn’t appear to really want a remedy for their woes. In John 5:1-15, we read the story of Jesus meeting a man at the Bethesda pool who had been unable to walk for 38 years. The man was full of excuses why he had not been healed in all that time when a common remedy was available. Jesus asked him, “Do you want to get well?” To prove the man’s faith, Jesus told him to stand and walk. At once, through God’s power, the man walked away.

Many people have heard the “cure” for their lost condition in the death grip of sin. But, they have refused the remedy that Jesus offers to them. The remedy comes through the simple, yet difficult, submission to the truth of the gospel; that of confession of sin, turning from it, and accepting Jesus’ death for them on the cross as the payment they could never make themselves to a righteous God.

If your conscience has burdened you because of your refusal of the cure for your condition, recognize this voice as Jesus stepping up to you, as He did to this man at Bethesda and saying, “Do you want to get well?” Then, when He says to you, “Get up, walk with me, and accept my healing” you will know cleansing from sin and peace with God—in effect, a new life. Then, you too will have learned that when a remedy exists, it is wise to take advantage of it.



Monday, August 13, 2018



[Photo of the San Francisco Renaissance Tower]

“Everyone who hears these words of mine and puts
them into practice is like a wise man who built
his house on the rock…but everyone who hears these
words of mine and does not put them into practice
is like a foolish man who built his house on sand.”
—Matthew 7:24, 26

Maybe you saw the 60 Minutes® story about the Renaissance Tower in San Francisco. This story featured the tallest building west of the Mississippi River. It contains condominiums that sell for millions of dollars, drawing the richest and most well-off buyers in the Bay area.

The problem with this posh building doesn’t appear to the naked eye. But engineers, who have studied the cracks in the foundation and say it leans, report that the building sinks about two-inches a year, or about 17 inches so far.

Upon close study, these engineers learned that the builders went down 80 feet and built the foundation on very dense sand. Below the sand, the ground consists of years of packed rubble, mostly from the 1906 San Francisco earthquake. To reach bedrock, one must extend the foundation of the building downward at least 200 feet below the surface. The question now becomes, how to fix this $350 million mistake.1

Immediately upon hearing the story, I remembered the parable that Jesus told about two men. The wise man built his house on the solid rock of God’s word. The foolish man built his house on the sand of his own willful ways. Though on sunny days the houses may have both appeared stable, when the storms came, only the one founded on the rock stood firm.

This parable, while a reminder for us all that God warns us about trying to build our lives on anything but His truth, also urges us to consider how we will build the next generations.

We could say that Christians, in general, desire their children, grandchildren, students, and congregational members to love God and follow in His ways. But, I sometimes wonder if we really aim for bedrock, or simply settle for something that appears good, but has its foundations built upon sand.

Do our churches aim to produce in our children strong, obedient, wise, and serious Christians? Or, do we remain content to develop polite, well-rounded, and knowledgeable young people with the appearance of a fine Christian upbringing, but with little to hold them up through the storms of life—even the temptations of college life or the workaday world? Do the programs we offer children in our churches spend more time on the “appeal factor” rather than actually drilling down into the will and consciousness of these young people?

Thankfully, I have seen, in recent years, parents and churches that have genuinely laid brick upon brick on a solid foundation of the Rock, the Lord Jesus Christ. Let us pray for all who influence the next generation of young people that our families and church produce!

May the Christian leaders of the next generation have what it takes to stand strong and powerful in Christ.


1 Wertheim, Jon. San Francisco’s Leaning Tower of Lawsuits. 60 Minutes (television program) for August 5, 2018. New York, NY: CBS Interactive Inc., 2018.



Monday, August 6, 2018

Used Tea Bags and Pencil Stubs


[Photo of pencil stubs]

“Do not sacrifice to the Lord your God an
ox or a sheep that has any defect or flaw
in it, for that would be detestable to him.”
—Deuteronomy 17:1

When I was a child, I remember a missionary speaker at my church who told of receiving “care packages” from the States. Inside one box he discovered that the people had sent boxes of used tea bags and pencil stubs. Imagine receiving that kind of gift sent to you in Jesus’ name!

The prophet Malachi was burdened for God’s people about just this kind of sloppy mediocrity, selfishness, and heartless worship. Apparently God’s people were giving to Him as sacrifices defiled food and diseased animals. He rebuked them in Malachi 1:14:

“Cursed is the cheat who has an acceptable male in his flock and vows to give it, but then sacrifices a blemished animal to the Lord. For I am a great king,” says the Lord Almighty, “and my name is to be feared among the nations.”

In our day, we may not present defiled animals to God. But, many of us are quite content to give Him that which has cost us nothing. In speaking to a mom of a chorister in my church choir about the child’s erratic attendance, she responded to me with, “It’s only church, for heaven’s sake!”

Make no mistake about it, God wants our best when we give Him our worship. He wants our excellence. This doesn’t always mean perfection. But, it does mean a heartfelt giving of the very best that we have.

Surely when we give offerings to those less fortunate, we can give gifts our own children would enjoy. When we bring food for the pantry, we can buy the same brands we would buy for ourselves.

Let us please Him as we give. 2 Corinthians 9:6-7 reminds us of what God desires from His people:

Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.