There is Another World

There is Another World
In the late spring of 1975, I was in my mid-twenties. I was visiting some family members in northern Arizona. Two second cousins, Wendy and Jill Varnum, whom I had met for the first time and who were a bit younger than I, introduced me to the Narnia Tales by CS Lewis, books I had never encountered and which they had at their house. After a successful year of law school, I was about to attend a trial year of seminary at Union Theological Seminary in Virginia. I was looking for a deeper relationship with God. But would it affect my career? Would I change careers, or go back to law school in a year? Who knew?
I did know I was seeking God, but, more importantly, I knew that God was seeking me. (I had recently heard at law school an excellent sermon by a young pastor, Rev. Harry Smith, about how the God of the Bible is always coming after us and seeking us.)At that time in my pilgrimage, God used CS Lewis’s Tales of Narnia, especially two of them—the Lion, the Witch, a…
Sometimes I wonder if I should not have lived in the 19th century!

 My wife and I have old maroon Presbyterian hymnals that we often sing from when we have our own worship services on Sundays, mainly because it’s often not good for my immune system to be around too many people. We find that many (but not all) of the songs we love to sing were written in the 1800s!

Recently, too, I was talking to someone about my illness and about looking forward going in His time to the place that Jesus promises he has  prepared for us. But some people I talk to like that seem very focused on this world and this life almost as if this were the only home we had. How sad!

I sometimes feel like I would have found more kindred spirits in the 19th century! In that era, many people spent a lot of energy getting ready to make the transition from earth to heaven, seeking Jesus, and being surrounded by friends. Many reported seeing long departed loved ones as the prepared to leave this world— and they especially …
Something (Not Quite Simple) To Keep Reading and Keep Praying
Luke 18:1-3, Jesus’ parable of the persistent widow, is interesting to me. In his one-verse introduction to the parable (18:1) Luke, the gospel writer, gives its meaning and the reason Jesus told it. He says, “Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show they that they should always pray and not give up.”
In the parable and in its further explanation, (verses 2-8) we encounter the cast of characters. There are only three. First there is a judge who does not fear God or care about people. Second there is a widow who persistently comes to the judge with the plea, “Grant me justice against my adversary.” The third character is the woman’s adversary, who owes her justice. Because he won’t act, she needs the judge to compel his action.
We learn from Jesus that the judge, though he cares for nothing beyond himself, will eventually give the widow justice though he does not care for God or people. He will do this for entirely selfi…
God’s Faithfulness Our Shield and Rampart

Note, I wrote this earlier for the local paper.  Later I thought that since the country is divided over a wall, and the government is partly shutdown, someone reading it might think that is what I am talking about here. But that is the farthest thing from my mind in this column!
Psalm 125:2 says, “As the mountains are round about Jerusalem, so the LORD is round about his people from henceforth even forever.”
This is a picture of God surrounding His people, even as the mountains surround Jerusalem and other cities. I was thinking today, however, not of the mountains around Jerusalem or other cities but of the walls which have sometimes been built to further protect them, and of the spiritual lessons about our true security in Christ which the scripture draw from these walls. 
In the old city of Jerusalem there are various walls around different parts of the city. These walls, also called ramparts, date from different eras. When you were standing be…
Where Faith is Flourishing
(Note, Sometimes I am able to clarify something on this blog and subsequently on Facebook about which I was unclear in the earlier newspaper column. In the column, see below, I write about people who are “oppressed.” Even in seminary long ago, I read a book about sin which said sin is two things: first it is the bad we do and the good we don’t do. But secondly, sin is also the spiritual power of darkness which oppresses us. Children who grow up in physical abuse are oppressed as are children who grow up in a home with alcohol or substance abuse. Go to any AA or NCA meeting and you will find people who tell you that, without their higher power, they are “powerless over their addiction”--a kind of oppression they are under. Obviously there was oppression behind hundreds of years of slavery in this country and in the racism that followed after some cases even up until now. These are some of the things I mean in the article when I talk about oppressi…
When You Make Politics into An Idol
The first commandment says “I am the Lord your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt...You shall have no other gods before me.”(Exodus 20:1-2) The earliest Christian confession about Jesus of Nazareth was “Jesus is Lord” (The Greek word used in that confession is “Kyrios,” which translates the Hebrew “Adonai,” Lord.) When something or someone is the Lord and Master of our lives, that thing must be more important than everything else.
Suppose professional football were the most important thing in peoples’ lives. Suppose football were more important than people, more important than family, more important than nation, more important than God! If you can imagine a world where professional football was more important than all those things, you can also imagine that people whose team was the Houston Texans could end up hating people whose team was the Dallas Cowboys. They could easily get to the point where they imagined the other side was less than …

Focusing on What is Real

“We live by faith, not by sight.” 2 Corinthians 5:7
“Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.”   Hebrews 11:1-2
I am writing this column on Christmas day, even though it will come out more than a week later. We will see part of our beloved family later in the day, but right now it is nice just to sit in my rocking chair and be still and listen to Christmas music! I know someone who  decided this year not to send gifts, feeling that Christmas was getting more and more materialistic. I couldn’t agree more.
Maybe it’s just because I’m getting older, but I feel that our culture is more and more in overdrive. There is the constant hype of advertising, constant calls from machines doing telemarketing (even if you are on “do not call” lists), simpler and simpler answers to everything, politics by tweet, etc., etc. In that environment, the following verse comes as a refreshing word from beyond this world: “So we fix our eyes not on what is seen but on what is …