Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Granddad grabs his little grandchild and says, “Aw, give your ol’ granddad a little hug.”

Howard Publishing Company has a series of books about hugs: Hugs for Women, sisters, Grandma, friends, Moms, grads, kids, teachers, and the list goes on.

Following the drastic drop in the markets yesterday, some people cuddled up in a fetal position and would have liked a little hug.

Some people are huggers and some are not. Some people love to be hugged and others don’t want to be touched.

Hug—but with caution!

The morning news reported that a man was arrested recently for hugging a policeman. The policeman told the hugger to stay back. He didn’t and was arrested. (The hugger was intoxicated).

Several of us lingered in front of a dark church building after services talking. A member I had known for years came up put her arm around my waist, her head on my shoulder and pulled me close. I didn’t think too much about it (but I liked it) since my wife was standing by me and her husband on the other side of my wife. As the conversation went on, I finally spoke. When I did the lady released her hold on me, jumped back and let out a scream. She said she thought I was her husband.

Hugs are good. Hug with passion and often. But for goodness sake—hug with caution!


Monday, September 29, 2008

The old expression, “Late to the table” applies to my post today.

Get up late? Oh no, I got up around 6:00 A.M. like I always do.

Sick? No—at least not physically.

Busy? No, not really.

I was watching television to see what Congress was going to do about the financial situation in America.

What did they do?

The same thing they always do—nothing!

Many of them will not be working for a day or two. They are getting some time off for religious reasons.

What they need to do is get some religion period!


Saturday, September 27, 2008

"Those who have the last place now will have the first place in the future." (Matthew 20:16)

Max became acquainted with Ben when he was barely fifteen and Ben was seventy. Max was young and convinced that the best was yet to come. Ben was weathered and crusty, living off of yesterday’s accolades. They met when Max was trying to get work in the oil fields during the school holidays.

It didn’t make any difference who got there first, all that mattered was the strength of your back and the experience under your belt. That’s where Max and Ben came up short. They were usually passed over. In the oil field they were common cast outs. Fellow failures. The “too little, too lates.”

The Bible tells a story of grace. The story of a landowner who needs workers. At 6:00 A.M. he picks up his crew and puts them to work. At 9:00 and then again at 3:00 he comes for a few more and finally at 5:00. The unskilled, untrained, uneducated went at 5:00. They were absolutely dependent upon a merciful boss giving them a chance they didn’t deserve.

We were chosen by God for the same reason the five o’clock workers were chosen for work. You and me? We are the five o’clock workers.

I’ll let Max tell the rest of the story: “You guys still need some work?” Ben jumped down from the barrel and answered for both of us. “Yessir.” “Grab your hats and lunches and get in the truck.” We didn’t have to be told twice. I’d already eaten my lunch but I grabbed the pail anyway. We jumped in the back of the flatbed and leaned against the cab. Old Ben put a smoke in his mouth and cupped his hand around the match to protect it from the wind. As the truck began to rumble, he spoke. Though it’s been twenty years I still can see his eyes sparkle through the furry brows. “Shor feels good to be chosen, don’t it boy?” Sure does, Ben, It sure does.”

Chosen by God. Yes Ben, it sure feels good to be chosen!

(Paraphrased and retold from Max Lucado's And The Angels Were Silent)


We want what we want NOW!

We want instant cash, potatoes, coffee, relief from pain and much, much more.

But God doesn’t operate that way. God’s timing is perfect even when he appears late by our human standards.

Consider Mary, Martha and Lazarus who were close friends of Jesus. Lazarus became ill. The sisters sent for Jesus. He didn’t come until after Lazarus had died. However, he did raise him from the dead.

This is just one story like this from the Bible. There are many others. And we all have stories to tell of how we think Jesus should have shown up sooner.

If you are a student of the Bible you know that God’s purposes and plans are very different from ours. He is just and his timing is perfect.

We need to let God be God and we need to be at peace.


Friday, September 26, 2008

When things go wrong--and they will, we need the reminders of this great song. Please listen to it, meditate and remember, that the God of the mountains is also God of the valleys.


Mad at God? Oh yeah, I have been mad a God plenty of times.

I have prayed "my heart out" and he didn't do or say anything. Not a thing!

Or so it seemed to me!

I knew what was right and what needed to be done. Why didn't he?

LATER--sometimes it has been days, weeks, months or even years, I could see that he was right and I was wrong. I had been too soon certain!

"Who is this that darkens my counsel with words without knowledge? Brace yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer me. Where were you when I laid the earth's foundations? Tell me, if you understand. Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know! Who stretched a measuring line across it? On what were its footings set, or who laid its cornestone--while the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy? (Job 38:2-7)


Thursday, September 25, 2008

Instead of being so concerned about what is happening to me because of the financial crisis facing our country, maybe I need to spend more time thinking about OTHERS


Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Now that I am retired I watch too much television.

Over the years I have ignorantly and blissfully gone along thinking that our "leaders" in Washington would do the right things for us and that they know a lot more than we do about almost everything.


I have watched them discussing the problems of the world and have come to the conclusion they don't know "didley squat" about anything!

Their meetings are nothing more than a pooling of ignorance!


Tuesday, September 23, 2008


Monday, September 22, 2008

The silence of God can be overwhelming!

Is anybody there? That is the long, prime-agonizing question of the ages.

I am doing a series of posts on how I can believe in a God that allows so much suffering.

One thing that needs to be said is that my problem has never been—believing in God. That’s a given for me. I have always believed in God. If you don’t, then that is a topic to be addressed in another series. I must begin with the assumption that you believe in God, you just don’t understand how he can allow so much human suffering.

Here is what works for me: In the New Testament Jesus called God “Father” 275 times. There are exceptions, but generally speaking fathers are good, loving, and compassionate.
We do not always understand them but we know they love us and want what is best for us and would never hurt us unnecessarily.

That being said, this is the way I find peace amid suffering. I realize in this life I will never understand everything about God, but the one thing I cling to is that he is good and that he loves me. That’s it. I find my peace in his love and grace to me.

So I go on, not knowing,
---I would not, if I might---
I would rather walk in the dark with God
Than go alone in the light;
I would rather walk with Him by faith
Than walk alone by sight.


Saturday, September 20, 2008

This is the story of an incredible love of a woman for a man. After twenty-three years of marriage, her heart still skipped a beat when he came home from work. She knew she was the luckiest woman n town, for he returned all this wonderful love. He was sent to Okinawa on a government assignment. It was to be for only a few months but it turned into a year and more. One day a letter came saying he had secured a divorce from Mexico by mail. The girl? A Japanese maid assigned to his quarters. She was nineteen; his wife was forty-eight. It doesn’t make sense, but Edith, the wife, did not immediately begin to scheme revenge; she was persuaded that in some way her husband still loved her, although she recognized that in some way he must also love this girl. He wrote and urged him to continue writing her occasionally, telling her of his new life. He did. He told of two children born to them and then one day a letter came saying he was dying of cancer. He was worried about what would happen to his little wife and the two daughters. The illness was taking all of his savings.

It doesn’t make sense, but Edith now realized the one thing her love could do for him in his last days would be to give him peace of mind. She wrote saying she would like for the two girls Mary and Helen to come live with her in America. It was after his death that they came. Edith was now fifty-five; the children were four and six. Again, it doesn’t make sense…but this is what she did. And with the help of the immigration authorities and many others, one day Aiko, the Japanese girl, frail and fearful, came down the steps of a plane at Idlewild in New York and into Edith’s arms. They have made their home together and now, once again, Edith feels she is the most fortunate woman in town.

None of it makes sense. A love like that seems crazy, foolish! But I wonder if it doesn’t make as much sense as the love of God for you or me, considering what we have been and what we are.

(Originally printed in Guideposts magazine, later retold by Robert Goodrich in Reach for the Sky)


For several days I have been writing about human suffering. That’s heavy, serious stuff.

I feel the need to lighten up—if just for one day.

I have been asking, “Why?” about a lot of the suffering that goes on in our lives.

Today I still want to ask “Why?” about a couple of things—but not serious things.

The last few times, like yesterday, when we ate over at Red Lobster I noticed a lot of elderly people. Why is that? Is it because fish is good for you and it helps you live to a ripe old age? Do they give discounts to seniors and we just haven’t found out about it?

Every time I get my car back from the service department at BMW or the car wash the seat on the passenger’s side is pushed almost up to the dashboard and the driver’s seat is pushed back as far as it will go. I don’t usually notice until I have driven out into traffic and then you shouldn’t be adjusting your seat. Unless a midget or a giant drives the car they should leave the seats alone. If they have to move the seats, why don’t they move them back?

Why? I don’t know. It doesn’t really matter. I was just wondering.


Friday, September 19, 2008

Sometimes life just doesn’t make sense.

Examples of great sorrows and difficulties could fill the shelves of the world’s largest library.

Every person on earth could contribute illustrations of his or her own.

Many Scriptures tell us that God is not obligated to explain Himself to us: Proverbs 25:2; Isaiah 45:15; Deuteronomy 29:29; Ecclesiastes 11:5; Isaiah 55:8-9.

I find my comfort in this: “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus Our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39)


Thursday, September 18, 2008

It seems no matter who we are there are times when it is hard to believe in anything: God, man, life.

But if you are never bothered by doubt, you probably know someone who is struggling.

If doubt comes into your life don’t panic. This is not a new thing. Somebody has experienced this before. The Bible is full of this. The Psalms cry out over and over and the New Testament has words about doubters. Remember the one we call “Doubting Thomas”?

Doubt is painful. We want to know!

Doubting life after death? Consider the alternative!

The worms crawl in and the worms crawl out,
They eat you up and they spit you out;
They bring their friends, and their friends’ friends, too,
And there’s nothing left when they get through.

Nothing left, that is, but the worms!

There has got to be something better than that!

We must—we absolutely must leave room for mystery in our life. Some things will not be answered in this life.


Wednesday, September 17, 2008

“Here today, gone tomorrow” is an old expression that reflects on the brevity of time and “stuff.” Try as you may, you can’t hold onto it.

Having to say “Good-bye” to anything we value is hard to do.

The failure of the stock market going on all around us today is a form of pain.

Thousands are losing their jobs and retirement investments as they see their company’s falling apart all around them.

It’s sad and it hurts—it hurts a lot.

Where is God when it hurts? That’s the question I have been discussing for the last few days. Right now I have no better answer for you than to refer you to Philip Yancy’s wonderful book, Where Is God When It Hurts? This book has sold over 60,000 copies and I believe is the best book on the subject. If you read it, you will be doing yourself and your suffering friends a favor.

(More later)


Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Yesterday I wrote about sharing the pain.

Today I did. I went into downtown Phoenix for jury duty.

That's not really what I had in mind and I'm being a little silly. But sitting around all day waiting for your name to be called is a form of pain.

Tomorrow, I'll get serious again and get back to the "real stuff" suffering is made of.


Monday, September 15, 2008






Hebrews 13:3 (J.B. Phillips)

I like the way J.B. Phillips words this passage, but no matter how you say it--we need to share the suffering of others. And we need to let them know they are not alone. Somehow this helps. I don't know exactly why, but it does.


Saturday, September 13, 2008

John Ortberg is one of my favorite writers. In my post for Saturday and now this one for Spiritual Sundays I have borrowed my thoughts from him.

“We … need to stay close to those who might be called “grace-providing” people. We need some people who accept us, welcome us, and love us no matter what. I need some grace-providers. You do too.”

You need them because you have other kinds of people in your life. You have some “grace-impaired” people in your life, who will judge you and critique you and remind you of your raggedness in ways that will tear you down.”

“Grace-providers simply never cease to love you. You may be a rag doll, but you are God’s rag doll, and grace-providers never let you forget it.”


John Ortberg has a book with the title, Love Beyond Reason. The subtitle is, Moving God’s Love from your head to your heart.

My last two posts have been about pain and human suffering. I consider suffering one of the biggest problems people have about God—if not THE BIGGEST!

I have been saying I don’t necessarily have an answer for you, but I have found one for myself.

John’s subtitle is a movement in the right direction. I moved my love for God from my head (An intellectual thing) to my heart (An emotional thing.)

I switched from just knowing about God to KNOWING HIM!

I have always disliked the expression, “Better felt, than told” but in my case this really does apply. For many, many years I knew about God—I knew a lot about Him.

But praise His Holy Name, I came to KNOW HIM and not just know about Him. It has made all the difference. This is my answer to human suffering.

(More later)


Friday, September 12, 2008

Does God steer a hurricane through a community? Does he cause an abusive childhood, master plan a jet crash; ravish your body with cancer? Or did he just wind up the world and then go off to just watch and see what might happen?

No simplistic answers will do! Not if you are the one suffering.

As I said yesterday, I have found an answer for myself and one that brings me peace concerning where God is when I hurt. But before my answer can make any sense for you, you have to understand how I arrived at my conclusions.

We must avoid the temptation to turn to the last chapter and read the conclusion. It’s imperative that we begin at the beginning and move slowly forward or we will end up confused, angry and still wondering where God is when we are suffering.

Today, I just want to connect with those of you who are suffering and wondering about God, and let you know that I have been there and will be again. However, most of the time I feel his embrace and I am comforted—even in the times of great suffering.

Suffering and questioning God is a problem that will not go away. My hope is that I can help you to be at peace most of the time and then to trust Him for the future.


Thursday, September 11, 2008


Why do bad things happen to good people?

When I served as a minister people expected me to answer all their questions. The one question I got more than any other was, “Why does God allow human suffering?”

Now, after fifty years of ministry and being almost seventy-four years of age—I still don’t have a good answer for them.

I have an answer for me—just not one for them. I mean I have come to peace with this in my own life but I can understand why so many have not.

I am writing this today simply to say that I feel this is the number one problem for many who struggle with believing in God. They can’t understand why (in their minds) the Bible fails to answer our most important question—why we suffer.

Later, if you are interested, I am going to tell you how I have come to peace with this.


Wednesday, September 10, 2008

I grew up singing, “The sun shines bright in my old Kentucky home… .”

Well, I didn’t grow up in Kentucky I grew up in Oklahoma. But I sang the song anyhow. I have been to Kentucky and the sun does shine pretty bright there. And they say they have blue grass but it looks green to me. But hey, what do I know about grass?

Now I sing, “The sun shines bright in my old Arizona home… and it’s true, it really does—most of the time.

Looking out an upstairs window I see the top of an orange tree in my yard, my neighbor’s red tile roof and God’s glorious sky of blue, filled with beautiful, puffy, white clouds.


Isn’t this a great world God has made?


Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Today I want to ask you to take a little trip over to the blog Raindrops and Rainbows and read her post for Monday, Why Romance Matters.

Charlotte and I have been married for fifty years. Romance matters!

As a senior minister I did marriage counseling for almost that many years. Romance matters.

Please check out this post on why romance matters


Monday, September 08, 2008

Frederick Buechner is one of my favorite writers. I may have published these words of his before, but for some reason today I feel the need to send them out again.

Whenever you find tears in your eyes, especially unexpected tears, it is well to pay the closest attention.

They are not only telling you something about the secret of who you are, but more often than not God is speaking to you through them of the mystery of where you have come from and is summoning you to where, if your soul is to be saved, you should go next.

Frederick Buechner
Whistling in the Dark


Saturday, September 06, 2008

Help me, O God.

Give me the courage to cry.
Help me to understand that tears bring
freshly washed colors arching across the soul,
colors that wouldn't be there apart from the rain.
Help me to see in the prism of my tears,
something of the secret of who I am.
Give me the courage
not only to see what those tears are revealing
but to follow where they are leading.
And help me to see,
somewhere over the rainbow,
that where they are leading me is home...

(A beautiful prayer by Ken Gire)


ENCOURAGING WORDS –The only comment I got on my post yesterday contained words of encouragement. I had seen no hope for things changing in Washington. She wrote: “I’ll keep praying if you will…maybe this will be one of God’s “special times” to get things going in the right direction.” Man, how good is that? One of God’s “special times—why didn’t I think of that? Check out her splendid blog at

SPIRITUAL SUNDAY – Starting on Saturday each week bloggers from all over post spiritual and inspiring words to Spiritual Sundays blog to encourage all readers. You may be one of those readers. I want to encourage you to also become one of the writers. Personal testimonies of God’s movement in your life and the lives of those you know are strengthening to all of us. Go to

YA’LL COME – Thinking about making a trip into Arizona? Well now is the time to start planning for it. Our weather is moving in the right direction. The next seven or eight months will be fantastic. For example: I have been up to the Sedona area when it was so hot I could hardly stand it. But I have also been there feeling the gentle breeze, staring at the snow on the red rock mountains, eating some of the best peach cobbler in the world and thinking I had died and gone to heaven. Get ready for it.

BASEBALL IS GIVING WAY TO FOOTBALL – There is an old song, “Day is dieing in the West…” Well, the Diamondbacks play baseball in the West and things are dieing all around them. But the Cardinals are coming on. They play San Francisco tomorrow. We’ll see what happens. Hang on.


Friday, September 05, 2008

Will McCain and Palin be able to change Washington?

NO! In my lifetime the only one that has been able to make any changes at all was Ronald Reagan.

I had staked my hopes on George Bush. He couldn’t or wouldn’t do it. He got in over his head. It’s called the Peter Principle. He was a good Governor for Texas but then was promoted to a job he couldn’t handle. Oh yes, he has done some good things. He has kept us safe or at least somebody has. He appointed some good Supreme Court Judges. But that’s about it. If he ever vetoed a spending bill I never heard about it. He said he was going to sprint to the finish. Man, I would hate to see it, if he slowed down to a walk.

Cynic? I hope not. I think that’s wrong. I don’t want to be. But I’m struggling.

Promises. Promises. Promises. “I’ll work for you.” “I will fight for you.” “We will shake things up in Washington.”

R E A L L Y ?


Thursday, September 04, 2008

The good ol’ boys will never get the job done!

Sarah Palan is like a breath of fresh air.

For years I have wanted the good ol boys shipped out of Washington—all of them.

For fifty years, while working with the church, I knew that if I wanted anything done, I would almost always have to get a woman to do it.

I went to bed last night and got up this morning shouting: “Go Sarah go! Go Sarah go!


Wednesday, September 03, 2008

“God is always previous,” is the way the theologian von Hugel put it.

“You would not have called to me unless I had been calling to you,” is the way, Aslan put it, the lion in the Narnia Chronicles.

The way the apostle John put it was, “We love because he first loved us.”

Maybe, too, that is why we long

“God’s yearning for us stirs up our longing in response,” said Howard Macy in Rhythms of the Inner Life.”God’s initiating presence may be ever so subtle—an inward tug of desire, a more-than-coincidence meeting of words and events, a glimpse of the beyond in a storm or in a flower—but it is enough to make the heart skip a beat and to make us want to know more.”

(Ken Gire is one of my favorite writers and his book, Windows of the Soul is one of my favorite books of all time, and I have read a lot of books. The thoughts for today's post are from this book.)


Tuesday, September 02, 2008

(Continued from yesterday)

It’s true. Charlotte has “left” me for bloging. That is—she doesn’t spend quite as much time with me as she once did. But the truth is, we are retired, we have more time together than we once did, so it’s alright. It really is!But I must, if I am going to be a good counselor, suggest to younger women that they should not try to follow Charlotte’s schedule. We have been married fifty years. This arrangement may not work until you have been together longer.

Yes, I have had some concerns. For awhile I was concerned that she was spending too much time with Mr. Linkey. Now that I have seen him in action—he is no threat to me.

The truth is—I am the one who started this whole thing. I first tried to get her to write for my blog. She said, “No.” Then I urged her to start her own blog. She said, “No.” Then she decided to try it to see if she would like it. LIKE IT? She became obsessed.

Today you can find Charlotte at:
AT HOME IN SCOTTSDALE – Here she writes about whatever happens to be on her mind. She now has bloging friends visiting from all over the world.

SPIRITUAL SUNDAY – Charlotte and a relative, Ginger, started this one day a week blog for spiritual and inspirational thoughts.

DOLLS, DOLLS, DOLLS – Charlotte is a very talented lady and this blog displays the dolls she has made. She has many other talents but I doubt if she will find the time to blog about them all.

Yes, Charlotte has “left” me (in a fashion) for bloging—and I couldn’t be happier for her!



Monday, September 01, 2008

Robert Golet sings: “If ever I should leave you, it wouldn’t be in summer, if ever I should leave you, it wouldn’t be in spring…”.

Charlotte’s (My wife of 50 years) version is: “If ever I should leave you, it wouldn’t be for a man…” (Although I did catch the local butcher giving her three extra pieces of chicken at no charge and for reasons unknown to me. But she is pretty cute). “If ever I should leave you, it wouldn’t be for money…” (Although Scottsdale is a shopping mecca and that woman does love to shop.)

I could go on like this forever. So I will just cut to the bottom line “If ever I should leave you, it would be for B L O G I N G!!!

B L O G I N G !!!

(To be continued)