(Originally published in 2015, I found myself thinking of this article as our family vacation draws to a close and we have to go back to life as usual.)
Last weekend I was blessed to attend a pastors’ wives retreat. It was marvelous. It was refreshing. It was uplifting. I was able to meet other pastors’ wives and swap stories with them. I stayed up late with them, sipping wine and eating chocolate. I had free time to walk, write, and relax. I went kayaking. Our group of ladies had wonderful sessions together. We sang together. We harmonized together. We did devotions together. We learned different methods of doing personal Bible study. It was a wonderful weekend. And then I came home.
Continue reading “Life on the Plain (from the archive)”
This weekend was bittersweet for our family. My father, a pastor, retired after forty years in the ministry. The last twenty-eight of those years he spent at the same church in Michigan. He took a call there when I was in the fifth grade. I consider it my home church. It’s strange to think of my parents going anywhere else. But retiring is different for a pastor than for other vocations. If someone retires from an office job, say, there’s no need to switch churches as well. However, when a pastor retires, in most cases he leaves his church as well. This is difficult, because often that’s their support network and social circle. These are the people who have celebrated together in good times and pulled together in difficult times; people who worship together every week. Indeed, they are a church family. And it’s hard to say goodbye to such a family. Continue reading “One Big Happy Family”
It doesn’t matter what you believe as long as you’re sincere.
All roads lead to heaven.
People may call God by different names, but we all still worship the same God.
Nice sentiments, aren’t they? Why trouble yourself too much about religion, after all? What difference does it really make in the end? If we’re all going to heaven, it doesn’t matter what we believe or how we live our lives on earth, right? But is that true? Do we all share a common destiny? Actually, in one sense, yes. But it may not be exactly what you have in mind.
Continue reading “One Common Destiny”
What do we know about Adam and Eve? We know God created Adam from the dust of the ground and formed Eve from Adam’s rib. Adam named the animals. Oh, and Adam and Eve were the first ones to sin. That’s kind of a big deal. They lived in the Garden of Eden until then, but were barred from it ever after. They had children and one of their sons murdered another. But seriously, Adam lived 930 years, and that’s all we know of his life? In all that time, something important had to happen, right? Or what about Noah? The ark, naturally. And the fact that he got drunk and passed out naked in his tent after getting off the ark. But again, this guy lived 950 years, and we only know two accounts from all that time. How’s that for a highlight reel?
Continue reading “Highlight Reel”
The power to influence the world belongs most of all to God’s children.
The quote made me stop in my tracks to consider the implications of those words. I was reading my devotion in the Today’s Light Bible, working through the book of Amos. Like many other prophets in the Old Testament, Amos warned God’s people that destruction was coming. They would be taken into captivity for their gross idolatry and failure to repent. In Amos 7, God shows His prophet two visions of the future. In one, a swarm of locusts completely strips the land of all crops. In the other, a fire consumed the land. After both visions, Amos cried out to the Lord and begged Him not to send such calamity upon Israel. And in both instances, God listened to Amos and relented from sending the disaster. Amos’ prayer changed the course of history for his nation.
Continue reading “How to Change the World”
(Author’s note: I originally wrote this article for the website Raising Godly Children, where it was published on March 19,2017. To read the article in its entirety, click the link here.)
My seventh grade son has a unique set of friends. A few “kind of” believe in a generic god out there, a few flat out don’t believe in God at all, a few aren’t sure what they believe, and then there’s my son. He’s grown up in the church, attended parochial schools until 5th grade, goes regularly to Sunday School, midweek (church) school, and confirmation class, and hears Bible stories and devotions at home as well. And thanks to the work of the Holy Spirit, he believes those biblical accounts. He has faith in Jesus and isn’t afraid to say so, even when all his friends are arguing against him. And argue they do. Religion is a regular topic of discussion at their lunch table. Yet despite the wide variety of views among them, they have a close bond and manage to stay friends even after a lively discussion. And to be honest, I couldn’t be happier that he’s fighting in school, because it’s already preparing him for life as an adult. (Continue reading.)
If one is to believe everything one sees about Jesus, one might come away with some very dangerous views about Him. Take, for example, the picture above, citing definitive “proof” from the Bible that Jesus supports the homosexual lifestyle. I’ve heard people make the assertion that Jesus overturned the moneychangers’ tables in the temple to fight economic injustice. I once read a pamphlet that portrayed Jesus as a dualist when He says, “I and the Father…” In my recent blog about the women’s march, more than one person challenged my “narrow-mindedness” by claiming that Jesus would have marched beside those women in support of women’s rights in America. And when all else fails, there’s always the “Judge not, lest ye be judged” card people can play to tell others, in effect, to mind their own business. The problem with all of these claims, however, is that they are blatantly untrue.
Continue reading “What Would Jesus Do?”
In all honesty, I became an author quite by accident. I didn’t take a single English class in college. I was a music major, after all, and I passed the AP English exam from high school, which counted as my college credit. Good enough for me. And for years after graduating, my focus was still music. Writing wasn’t even on my radar. I played the organ for church, directed a few choirs over the years, and had no intention of becoming an author. But then a student of the week project for my second-grade son gave me an idea for an A to Z poem that eventually became the book Our Faith From A to Z. Now, that’s the sort of book I can handle. There were specific parameters under which I had to operate- one word for each letter of the alphabet, each verse had to fit the meter of the poem, and I had to write an explanatory paragraph for each of the 26 words or concepts. I can do that. Fiction, on the other hand, is an entirely different sort of beast. You can pretty much go anywhere and do anything in your writing, so long as it’s interesting enough to capture people’s attention. It’s sort of daunting for someone like me who likes specific boundaries. I even told my best friend once, “I have no desire whatsoever to venture into fiction.” And that should have been the end of it. Because once I did try fiction, I did everything wrong. Continue reading “The Accidental Author”
I hate waiting.
So says Inigo Montoya in the well-known movie The Princess Bride, and I have to say, I agree with him. He is, of course, waiting for the man in black to finish climbing the mountain so he can sword fight him. My life isn’t nearly that thrilling. The most exciting thing for which I’m waiting right now is the publication of my first novel. I’m learning that a lot of writing involves waiting- waiting to hear whether or not they like my manuscript when I send it in, waiting to receive an edited copy, waiting for a second edited copy, interior design, proofreading… You get the picture. There are a lot of steps, and the whole process takes more than a year from start to finish. While I’m in the middle of the process, that seems like an awfully long time. But all things considered, that’s not a terrible wait time. And I need to remind myself that it’s actually good that it takes as long as it does. I don’t want to rush through the steps of editing and proofreading only to end up with a sloppy end product. Even though I may wish it was a shorter process, in the end, it’s totally worth the wait.
Continue reading “What are You Waiting For?”
Some time ago I did my quarterly …
semi-annual … okay, annual (if I’m lucky) full-house carpet cleaning. I’m talking pulling out beds, moving dressers, and rearranging furniture. Oh, sure, I use it here and there to spot clean, but this was different. I focused on a different room each day, and by the end of the week, the carpets were squeaky clean, and I was feeling pretty happy about my progress, so I decided to use the upholstery tool to clean the couch and armchair as well. Looking at our couch beforehand, it didn’t look especially disgusting. It’s beige, so it showed a few discolorations, sure, where the kids spilled something or other. But I had the false impression that it was fairly clean overall. Boy, was I wrong. Continue reading “Deep Cleaning”