It is all about people

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Location: Hatboro, Pennsylvania, United States

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

I wanted to snorkel... to swim... to play in the water and on the beach. Melanie wanted quaint and a bit secluded. So we landed on the Island of St. Lucia.
The first three days were all of the above.
But the the last day of hurricane season came bringing Mr. Thomas with her. Sabbath brought rain and wind... a tropical storm. Saturday night brought Category 2... rain, wind, and mudslides. We spend the night in a restaurant bar counter with 100 other people - water, sewer, communication, electricity all destroyed our resort became a prison
For 3 days we survived by making friends and the twice a day announcements from the resort director on any updates about the rest of the island. Food and drinking water was rationed - the pools became the "rinse tubs" and helping clean up the resort passed the hours.
Finally after a helicopter flyover, the government sent a message by boat that they would be bringing three large boats to empty the resort (roads being out of commission for weeks). Hours before the designated time a group of us were out waiting on the dock. And we waited - it wasn't until about 4 hours after the scheduled time that are "saviors" rounded the corner and entered the bay.
Although only two boats showed... a third was promised. Many relaxed and waited on the beach - allowing the first to boats to fill and pull away. It wasn't until that 2nd boat pulled away that it was announced there was no third boat coming. We who were on the boats were told about the same time as those on the shore - I cried. I cried because we were being taken north to resorts that were unaffected by the storm... but on the dark miserable shore of our departure stood some we had gotten to know - but who had waited for the other boat.
There was no other boat... I wish I would have known... I would have told them for sure.
It is still TRUTH - there is no "other" boat. The One that is coming on the cloud - is the only boat. This time I know...so I will tell... keep your eyes on the horizon, for the only Saviour - there won't be another.


Monday, May 10, 2010

In the pine trees that surround the ball field behind the church is a hawk's next. I like watching the raptors and hope they aren't too annoyed that I occasionally stare up at them from the base of the tree they call home.
But then insert the crows. The poor hawk barely gets off and into flight before 2 or 3 of these large lustrous black birds begin to attack and pick on it. Really, it seems to always be the case. I can't imagine what the bird thinks, but I am even tired of those crows.
I'm tired of picking, period. The crows on the hawk. The devil on me. I'm tired of picking.
You should meet some of the people that live and work close to me... they are like the crows, and just as good at picking.
They are bad news. I am the poor hawk going about my own business, when "ca ca" (that's suppose to be a crow sound).
Well this was my thesis until this week: Me the hawk, them the crows.
Insert God. He's taken me to see that I might be the hawk... but I'm also the crow. That Satan and sin is not all about using the world to get at me but my own self(ishness). That it is my own pride that causes me to be picked on. It is impossible to be humiliated when I have humility, or to be disgraced when I am living a life of grace.
C.S. Lewis says this is where it all begins-"Pride leads to every other vice: it is the complete anti-God state of mind."
Books tell them to call selfishness by other names. Fear, weakness, frustration, and hurt all can all point to someone else being the crow. Without any interest in excusing them, we must realize, they aren't the one's picking.
I am tired of being picked on by my own sin. So, I am headed back to spending a "thoughtful hour on the life of Christ" each morning-to learn from that life of humility and grace.

Monday, May 03, 2010

I had an uneventful flight this last week and it’s always fun to see the earth from 30,000 feet. I can only be thankful that my flight included only Chicago and Phoenix and not London or Paris. Thanks to Iceland’s remote volcano Eyjafjallajokull which filled the sky with ash 7 miles high, 100,000 flights were canceled and hundreds of thousands of passengers were literally left sitting in many European airports. The stranded weren’t just the “coach” passengers, but included government officials headed to Poland, an Olympian headed to the Boston marathon, Oxford University bigwigs, and even a New Yorker who had to have her wedding changed from the planned country of France.

“But the impact,” writes Bryan Walsh, of the volcanic crisis went far beyond the inconvenience of stranded vacationers and sprained tongues of newscasters trying to pronounce Eyjafjallajokull.” Kenyan farmers suffered when the fresh flowers they provide to a significant part of Europe couldn’t leave the their continent. Although the price tag was significant for the airlines (estimated 1.2 billion), they were the only ones to suffer, this really had a global effect.

I had realized most of this, but it wasn’t until I saw the title for Bryan Walsh’s article in time magazine that my imagination and even emotions were arrested: “The Cloud That Closed A Continent.” Walsh goes on to comment that this is one more reminder of how vulnerable are world remains. I’m sure you are ahead of me already – “The Cloud That Closed a Continent.” What about the headlines “The Cloud that Will Close the Planet?”

Then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. (Luke 21:27) John says that He who sat on the cloud thrust in His sickle on the earth, and the earth was reaped. (Revelation 14:16)

Iceland’s Eyjafjallajokull was unheard of until it's cloud "closed a continent." That’s what we are all about – living our lives so that the world expects the cloud that will "close" the planet.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

The books are collecting around my bed and I love it. Bill Hybel's "Just Walk Across the Room" that I am not currently reading is on my night stand along with "The Great Controversy" that I am currently reading. Those two books are on top of Sanctified Life that is just a great book to have handy. Then leaning up against my night stand is the volume "History of the Reformation" by J.H. D'Aubigne, who E.G. White quoted extensively in "The Great Controversy." Then in front of the night stand on the floor is a small miscellaneous selection with a collection of Robert Frost's works, one of C.S. Lewis titles, the testimony of Sandi Patty, and then one of my favorite collection of essays form Robert Fulghum. It is from this final book I got my idea of eating a chair.
Fulghum tells of giving a ride to two college students headed to their summer job. Their philosophy teacher had given them an extra-credit assignment: Do something unique and memorable-not dangerous or foolish, but something creative, inventive, and instructive. They were to write up what they learned and how to apply it to their philosophy of life.
So. They are eating a chair.
They bought a plain wooden kitchen chair and using a rasp have been turning it into sawdust. Then at every opportunity, granola in the morning or salad in the afternoon, they would sprinkle it on their food. When Fulghum met them they had eaten a leg, two rungs, and a back piece.
Had they learned anything. They said so. They learned how "amazing long-term goals can be achieved in incremental stages. Like how something seemingly idiotic affects your thinking about other things you do... Some things cannot be had except on a little-at-a-time, keep-the-long-goal-in-mind, stay-focused basis."
I think I am going to eat a chair.

Friday, March 19, 2010


Two things have struck me as profound this week while thinking about the coming Apocalypse of Jesus Christ.

One is the theories surrounding the year and/or date of the 2nd coming. The voice on the other side of the radio said Jesus will be arriving in the spring of 2011. I pondered that. And then I am told that thanks to an expiring Mayan calendar we know that the end of the world will actually be in the winter of 2012 (Y2K anybody?). I pondered that. So we read, therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh. (Matthew 24:44) So here’s what I am thinking – if some think Jesus might come in 2011 and others say 2012, but the Bible says He will come in an hour as “ye think not,” then we are left with what? 2010 or 2013 and beyond. Really. Jesus could come this year. (You may now argue that since I am thinking 2010 it nullifies that as an option). But let me counter with the 2nd subject of my ponderings this week.

Each of the great Christians I can think of – Peter, Paul, John, Luther, Miller, etc. have all lived expectant of Jesus coming in their lifetime. So the answer to the dilemma is not thinking of when he will come but believing (used synonymously with living) that he will come at any time. The error that Jesus is pointing out (in Matthew 24 and recorded in Luke) is not the error of believing He will or could come at any time, it is living under the assumption that he won’t come at a certain time.

Keep watching, Jesus is coming.

Monday, March 15, 2010


Have you ever heard of a moving city? Sound like something that hasn’t happened since the Native Americans had free reign of North America. Well, Chile has heard about it. The violent 8.8 February 27th quake moved the Chilean city of Concepcion at least 10 feet to the west. Although 500 times stronger than the 7.0 earthquake that hit Haiti in January, the tragedies were much less. But Chile wasn’t done; this morning (March 11) 3 strong quakes, all above 6.0, struck the country. If it’s not Chile or Haiti, it’s China, or Indonesia, or Turkey, all within the last 60 days.

People are concerned. After the memorial service this week, honoring the life of Albert Becker, while we were still standing next to the tombstone, I was asked – what do all these earthquakes mean… is it the end? Jesus actually tells us exactly what these mean, “For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. All these are the beginning of sorrows.” (Matthew 24:7,8) The very next thing Jesus says will happen is persecution for those who are faithful in obedience and faith to Jesus. Earthquakes are not the final bell, but are the warning indicators. Something is coming.

So what about a moving city? The Chilean city of Concepcion isn’t the only one I have ever heard about: And I John saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. (Revelation 21:2) There it is, the New Jerusalem will move, not 10 feet, but from heaven to earth. The beloved disciple follows his announcement with a reminder that when the New Jerusalem moves, there will be no death or sorrow.

Monday, March 01, 2010

I remember flying with 30 or 40 Jewish teens. Their destination was an international conference just for Jewish young people in Chicago. They explained the goals and programming of the conference including the agenda for Shabbat. My two row-mates and I shared freely during the flight so in our approach I had to ask; “what does Shabbat mean to you as an individual?” The young man was candid in his reply that it really meant nothing and he viewed it as mostly a tradition. But then he added that it remains a highlight of the week because on Friday evening his family will come together and connect before dispersing for the weekend activities.

This is the same practice seen in many homes in Jerusalem at the beginning of each Sabbath. Families come together and fathers bless mothers and mothers bless fathers, parents bless children and children bless parents. “Blessing” is a tradition not like the Christian tradition of praying for each other but rather applying Biblical passages of blessing to the individual followed by a praise. For example the father would bless the mother speaking or singing verses from Proverbs 30 exalting her virtues and expressing his appreciation of her.

I have taken a spin of this practice in my home. Each Friday that I am home, I invite friends over for supper to become "family." Before we eat together, we go around the table blessing the one to our right. After we go around the circle, we read a Psalm... as a blessing to God.

I don’t know how far back this tradition goes, but it has the taste of creation. It fits within the picture of God to envision Him doing just that every Sabbath for us – extolling our virtues and expressing His appreciation for us. Go ahead, reflect the image of God by blessing your child, your parent, your spouse, and your God.