I Am Become Disney World!

     There are many interesting changes which come with mid-life and the empty nest.

     Some of the changes have been rather jarring. For instance: the inability to get back to 200 hundred pounds without amputation of limbs, or this new thing about not being able to drink coffee after 9 without getting heartburn (truly terrifying).

    Certain changes, on the other hand, have been very gratifying: The idea that I am no longer “the rookie”. The respect that comes with that perception is truly wonderful. Then there’s this whole thing about becoming Disney World….

     When the kids were growing up Tina and I tried to give the kids a wide variety of exposures to the world. We took them all over and showed them as much of our country as we could. The kids have been to Maine and Maryland. They have travelled as far away as Texas and Florida. We have pictures of them bathing in the Gulf waters in Galveston and walking the humid pathways of Valley Forge Park in Pennsylvania.

     All those years vacation to our family meant going to a destination. Now suddenly two years into the empty nest I have become the destination! I am Disney World! Go me! Granted, I am not exactly Space Mountain or the Tower of Terror. I am more like It’s A Small World but the kids don’t seem to mind. Then there’s the added bonus that vacations no longer cost an arm and a leg. Hey! Maybe that’s why I can no longer lose the weight…hmm.

What changes has life brought you recently?

Cylon:“Truth What is Truth?”

A while ago I started a post about Christianity and culture called “Hold the Fort: I Don’t Want To Be a Cylon!”. This is part two in that series.

 Pontius Pilate asked Jesus “What is truth” as he was interviewing the Savior before the inevitable death sentence. While I don’t think many of us would like to be compared to Pontius most of our culture shares his sketchy understanding of truth. So many have fallen into this trap of relative truth, “If you think it’s true then it’s true for you. Everyone has their own beliefs.”

     It must be nearly ten years ago now, I was teaching school as a special needs IA. My student had gone off to his job placement and I was busy reading the Telegram during my lunch hour before geometry class when one of the teachers brought up the topic of religion. She began to talk about “those fundamentalists” and how if they were real Christians they would understand that God loved everybody no matter what they believed and that a loving God would surely never send anyone to Hell but would  accept everyone’s beliefs no matter what they were.

     I listened for a while as she spoke to everyone in the teacher’s lounge. I tried, oh I tried, to bury myself in the Celtics scoreboard but when other teachers started nodding their heads in affirmation I had to speak up.

     “What church do you belong to?” I asked.

    “I am a Catholic.” She replied.

    “Do you believe Peter was the first Pope?”

     “Of course I do.” She replied a little taken aback.

    “Well your first Pope disagrees with you.” I replied. “Because he said ‘There is no other name under Heaven whereby men can be saved but the name of Jesus.’; So that means, according to the guy you say was the first leader of your church, if you do not believe in Jesus you cannot go to Heaven.”

     The room fell silent. The lady stared at me as if I had just murdered her kitten. Then she stormed into the bathroom and wouldn’t come out until I had vacated the room. 

     Our society has really lost its grip on truth and with it, its grip on reality. The idea that everyone can make up their own idea of right and wrong, truth and falsehood, is just…well… crazy. My idea about reality cannot be as valid as a divergent idea about reality. One of them has to be right and one of them has to be wrong. Case in point either there is a God or there isn’t. Christians and Atheists can’t both be right. Both ideas cannot be equally acceptable. Further the idea that every man gets to decide what is right and wrong isn’t working for our society now. What makes us think it is how Heaven runs?

     We struggle with truth because we struggle with telling people they are wrong particularly in the area of morality. For some reason we think that the area of morals should be subjective. Honestly though, morals are mostly as cut and dried as 2+2. Adultery is as wrong as 2+2=5. Lying always causes trouble. And stealing will never be O.K. It doesn’t mean there is no room for mercy but lets not confuse mercy and forgiveness with changing moral codes to fit our lifestyle.

So fellow Cylons you tell me: What is truth?

Two Roads To Beavers

A hundred years ago Morton Converse ran a toy factory in our town that supplied most of the country with wooden rocking horses. The toy business  gave Winchendon its nickname, “Toy Town”, and made Converse a wealthy man.

     He built a mansion in the center of town on a steep hill that overlooked the Miller’s River. His home and garden terraces ran all the way to the river’s edge and spread across to several islands on the waterway. 

    The factory burned down when I was a kid. All that is left of the mansion is a few stray concrete walls which have withstood the encroaching forest and the tides of the River.

     A few well-meaning souls have tried to push back the undergrowth and plant a garden along the edge of the road where part of the foundation still remains.  I cannot say they have met with success. But where men have failed to tame the hillside beavers have commanded the water’s edge to bow to their will.

     I have known about the beavers for a few years and have wanted to spend some time watching them. But the opportunity never presented itself , that is until my daughter Melanie’s last  visit home. She suggested that we should take some time and visit the Converse beavers. So last Thursday we did just that.

     The rain let up for a few hours in the morning. So we put on long pants to guard against the tics and the cold and set out.  We hopped the fence and headed down through the foundation garden. The grass had grown in along the side walls all but obscuring the foundation stones as we set out down the steep hill. We quickly lost the rock pathway  in the foot deep grass. Grasping onto limbs to guide us down the steep hill Melanie and I quickly realized we were not dressed for the task. The hill was  nothing but mud and grass, wet with three day’s rain.

     By the time we reached the chapel wall we had slipped several times and our jeans were soaked up to the knees.  But we had a good view of the little critters who maintained the river. We watched for quite a while despite our chilly discomfort, mostly because we dreaded the thought of climbing  back up the way we had come. That’s about when we realized we were actually standing on a muddy trail that seemed to lead further up towards town. We decided we had little to lose; So when we were finished watching the beavers build a new island we took the pathway to its end which by golly was a set of stairs that led directly to the street.  Apparently someone a hundred years ago had been bright enough to figure out that people would want to go down to the river and that perhaps there should be a better method of getting there than to repel from the back-end of the mansion.

     Of course I, being a modern guy and all, never thought once to look for a set of stairs. Oh no… if it had been my mansion I would have strung a rope from the bathroom window and said to my guests “don’t forget to flush before you climb down to the gardens!”

     Makes me wonder how many other things in life I am doing the hard way.  I hope one day I will learn the lesson” work smarter not harder.”

What lesson is life teaching you these days?

Passion: The Step To Glory

“I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do.” John 17:4 NIV

Religion is man’s attempt to get to God…his futile attempt. How many foolish things have we done as a race to try to win our way back into the presence of the Divine?  There was the failed attempt at Babel, the worship of various idols down through the centuries, the sex cults of Ashtoreth,  and Aphrodite and even the horrific practice of child sacrifice, called Molech . But religion could never do what only Christ had the power to accomplish. All of it only pushed us farther and farther away from God and caused us to bring Him less and less glory. Even the righteous pursuit of religion practiced, under God’s direction,
by the Hebrews failed to bring men closer to God. The writer to the Hebrews wrote
that the laws and sacrifices of ancient Israel were only a shadow of the things to come. He went  on to state “it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.”  Hebrews 10:4 NIV
Without the removal of sin there is no restoration of our relationship with God.  And there is nothing man can do to remove his own sin. So it is that Jesus in the fullness of time came into the history of mankind and completed the work God the Father gave him to do. Jesus’ death on the cross and resurrection from the dead has brought glory to God. God receives glory every time a sinner is forgiven of his sins and is brought back into
relationship with God through the blood of Jesus. God receives glory every time a Christian chooses  righteousness over wickedness by the power of the cross. Jesus’ work was completed on the cross. He is still completing His work as His cross is applied to our lives when we cry out for it through prayer!

Tell me about when Jesus brought glory to God by rescuing your life!


“Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.” John 17:3 NIV

      What do you think eternal life is? It’s odd the things Jesus didn’t use to define eternal
life, things like: having a millionth birthday party, having a new body that never gets sick or injured, or having freedom from sadness and pain. It’s odd because these are the things most people value in eternal life. In fact, many people only consider the eternal part of eternal life valuable. That’s the part that we humans have anyway. Our souls are immortal regardless of  our decision to follow Jesus. But immortality apart from God will hardly be called living.

      Knowing God is what gives us life. Knowing God is what makes life worth living. When we get to Heaven it will not be the gold or the health or the length of days that will
fill us up. It will be experiencing God in all His fullness. And truly that is what it means to know God and Jesus Christ. I do not know God because I logically understand His story. I know God because I have experienced His forgiveness and His intervention in my life through prayer and living for Him.

      You know, I am not waiting for eternal  life to begin. My eternity began the day I
let Jesus get a hold of my life, the day I started trusting Him to deal with the mess I call my life. When I get to Heaven the experiences I have there will be the consummation of the knowing I have begun here.

What do you see in Jesus statement in John 17:3?

Passion: The General Manager

“For you have given him authority over everyone. He gives eternal life to each one you have given him.” John 17:2 NLT

        Before I came to work for the church in 1996, I worked in the business world to help support my family. I had various careers during those early years: waiter, short order cook, restaurant manager, Circulation District manager, Wal-Mart stock man, I even did a stint as a data entry specialist for the IRS. Each job came complete with a general manager. You know the guy or gal I’m talking about: first to work, last to leave, always barking orders, lots of responsibility, owns stock in Rolaids or Mylanta, and generally the crabbiest person in the building….Oh yeah and they are the go to person for virtually everything because they have the authority.

      Authority  is the right to exercise power to a desired end. The general managers all had authority to make decisions with millions of dollars of personnel and equipment. The owners had turned their concerns for the company over to these people. The owners trusted their general managers to act responsibly to bring about a profit for them. The problem was the general managers had no real power to ensure the end that the owners desired; So they daily bit their whitened knuckles and swallowed antacids hoping against hope that the balloon wouldn’t burst on their watch.

     Like the general managers, Jesus has been entrusted by God the Father with authority.

     “Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. ” Ma 28:18 NLT

     In John 17 Jesus tells us what the authority is for. It is to grant eternal life to men and women!

    So Jesus, like the other general managers I have served under, has been given authority. Unlike them however He also has power to accomplish the work with 100% efficiency. Jesus never fails! He finds those who seek for God and He saves them every time! He has never lost a man or a woman who came calling for help…and He has never had to take Mylanta while doing the work! Thank you Jesus for being the best general manager I have ever had!  


     “After saying all these things, Jesus looked up to heaven and said, “Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son so he can give glory back to you.” John 17:1 NLT

     In our walk through the passion narrative in the Gospel of John we have now come to the “High Priestly prayer of Jesus” in John 17. As the Great High Priest of the church Jesus first prays that the Father would “glorify” him.

    Jesus asks God to:

doxazō-to honour, do honour to, hold in honour to make glorious, adorn with lustre, clothe with splendoura) to impart glory to something, render it excellent b) to make renowned, render illustrious.

    Did God answer this prayer? If He did the ramifications for us are enormous, because it means Jesus’ glorification started with crucifixion.

     If we accept that Jesus was glorified through crucifixion then our obvious question is: “Does all glorification come through crucifixion in some form?”

     Now the answer to that meditation sure informs our Christianity. Maybe that understanding was the reason behind the disciples’ rejoicing every time they got beaten. If instead of viewing trials as trouble they viewed them as the pathway to glory well then why not rejoice?

Chew on these awhile and let me know your thoughts!

“Since we have been united with him in his death, we will also be raised to life as he was. We know that our old sinful selves were crucified with Christ so that sin might lose its power in our lives. We are no longer slaves to sin. For when we died with Christ we were set free from the power of sin. ” Romans 6: 5-7 NLT

“So then, since Christ suffered physical pain, you must arm yourselves with the same attitude he had, and be ready to suffer, too. For if you have suffered physically for Christ, you have finished with sin.” I Pet. 4:1 NLT


Hold The Fort: I Don’t Want To Be a Cylon!

     We watched a lot of T.V. growing up. Sunday night’s for instance was Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom, Jacques Cousteau, and the Wonderful World Of Disney, which we usually watched while eating macaroni and cheese with cut up hot dogs.

    I think Battlestar Galactica was a Friday night show shoved somewhere between Wonder Woman and The Six Million Dollar Man. I loved watching Starbuck and Apollo blow up cylons. In my little kid estimation the Cylons were only a little better than Darth Vader and only because their armor was cooler.

       Turns out though that according to the new Battlestar mythos I can’t be Apollo or Starbuck. With my belief in absolute truth, One True God and the fallen sinfulness of mankind I am definitely Cylon material. Hmm that’s a problem because…I don’t want to be a Cylon! I want to be the hero of the story, but somewhere along the way what’s heroic got redefined.

     I suppose a detailed analysis of how things got twisted around like this in our culture is a little large for one post. So maybe we should break it down a bit.

     Let’s start here: If you were in Battlestar Galactica would you be the human or the Cylon? Why?

Passion: A Divine Job Description

     “When he comes, he will convict the world of its sin, and of God’s righteousness, and of the coming judgment. The world’s sin is that it refuses to believe in me. Righteousness is available because I go to the Father, and you will see me no more. Judgment will come because the ruler of this world has already been judged….When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own but will tell you what he has heard. He will tell you about the future. He will bring me glory by telling you whatever he receives from me. ” John 16:8-14 NLT

       I learned a long time ago that while God, in His work, may seem random, that is an illusion of the highest order. God never does anything without a plan. We humans are the ones who shoot from the hip and play things by ear.

      So when God planned the church, the sending of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost was not an afterthought. He was not an add-on to church history just for good measure. His arrival and work were as minutely planned as the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ.

    In John 16 Jesus outlines the Holy Spirit’s job in the church.

1. He will convict the world of sin

2.He will convict the world towards righteousness

3. He will convict the world that judgment is coming

4. He will reveal to the church all of God’s future plans.

In short the Holy Spirit is the liaison connecting Earth and Heaven. He alone is invested with the authority and power to convince men of their sin, reveal the pathway to righteousness and clue mankind in about God’s progressive timetable. The church cannot do its work without the Holy Spirit….But,good golly Miss Molly, we have tried.

      Let’s be real, Holy Ghost is definitely an out of the box thinker. He gets His job done, for sure, but I would never think to do it the way He does. For instance, I never would have chosen tongues as the first sign of my coming. Then again, no one can argue with the results: After all, 3,000 gave their hearts to Jesus on that day.    

     Whatever we may think of His methods, though, we don’t get a say in Holy Spirit’s job performance. He is God. Jesus and the Father commissioned Him and we don’t get to relieve Him of His duties. Further He is not random. He has a reason for everything. Every gift has a purpose and should be gladly received. Every miracle has its place and points to the Christ. Every leader called and commissioned by the Holy Spirit is raised up for a purpose that fits directly into His plan. Nothing done in relationship with Him is a waste or unfruitful. If He ordained it the results are with Him even if we do not see or understand them.

     the Holy Spirit came to take up Jesus’ place at Jesus’ command and the church desperately needs Him to do His job particularly as we see the end approaching.

     He has told us the end is near (you have heard it in your heart). I am so thankful that He is fulfilling His other roles as well! Let’s commit to allowing Him the privilege of convicting people of their sin and showing them the way to righteousness in Christ! Oh church let us allow the Holy Spirit more freedom in our lives than ever before!

Passion: Holding The Fort!

      “I have told you these things so that you won’t abandon your faith. For you will be expelled from the synagogues, and the time is coming when those who kill you will think they are doing a holy service for God. This is because they have never known the Father or me. Yes, I’m telling you these things now, so that when they happen, you will remember my warning. I didn’t tell you earlier because I was going to be with you for a while longer. ” John 16:1-4 NLT

         My Dad was none too happy when I started going to church with my Uncle Tom. Uncle Tom was and is a dyed in the wool Pentecostal, blood bought, Spirit baptized, Holy Ghost sanctified Christian. In Dad’s estimation a nice nut but a nut none the less.

     When I decided to become a Christian and was born again Dad threatened to forbid me from church if I didn’t start thinking through my philosophies in life. From that point on Dad and I had lots of “lively discussions” about faith. I never considered it persecution really but it was definitely opposition. Dad made room for my Christianity but was sure to point out it was only because he was free thinking enough to let me make my own mistakes in life. He was sure it was all just a phase I would grow out of.

      As I reflect on my situation I am so thankful my Dad was a free-thinker.  The extent of my persecution has been some jocular ribbing from family members who think me the next generation of “nice nut”. Meanwhile brothers and sisters around the world are giving their lives for the cause of Christ.

      This week we received word that Christians in Laos were raped and murdered while their families were forced to watch. Churches in India were burned to the ground and our denominational headquarters in the Ivory Coast was pillaged.

     Paul in writing his second letter to Timothy said “everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution. ” II Tim 3:12 NLT

      As the church in America faces these last days we need to recognize that we are in a blessed position that is not guaranteed to continue. In fact Scripture pretty much assures us that if we do our job of sharing Jesus it will not continue. It is an oddity that a gospel of love and hope should elicit a reaction of violence but that’s the way our world operates.

     We used to sing a song in the church called “Hold the Fort” The chorus says ““Hold the fort, for I am coming,” Jesus signals still;
Wave the answer back to Heaven, “By Thy grace we will.” (Hold The Fort, Philip Bliss)

      These are good words for the church to grasp hold of in these days. It’s time to trust in God’s grace to help us endure and more than that to powerfully spread the Good News that Jesus has died and risen again to save the lost! Any price we might pay will be made up as souls are added to the kingdom!

How do you think persecution will come to American Christians?