The Greatest Gift Of All


“In all of my years of service to my Lord, I have discovered a truth that has never failed and has never been compromised. That truth is that it is beyond the realm of possibilities that one has the ability to out give God.”  ~~Charles Spurgeon

During the Christmas season our thoughts turn to gifts. We like to give them. We like to get them. There’s the wrapping. There’s the bows. There’s all that business about hiding them until Christmas morning…especially from the littles.

During the Christmas season, if we’re fortunate, someone will remind us that the best gifts come not from the K-Marche or Bon Mart, but from the heart. If we’re blessed, others will remind us about love and kindness, and hope, and peace…and God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

During the Christmas season, hopefully, everything will slow down enough for each of us to catch our breath…both literally and figuratively. Yes, we’ll be encouraged with the familiar warning, “Tis better to give than to receive.” Hopefully this little warning may reduce our stress load over what lies under the tree for “little ‘ol me.” And yes, we’ll be exhorted to remember the less fortunate as we gather around tables heavy with calorie laden plates. Hopefully such a warning may reduce our stress by enticing us to give to strangers one of those beautiful blessings that just might light their hearts and bring smiles to their lips.

During the Christmas season, if things really go right, we’ll be inclined to listen. We’ll listen when God breaks through with a powerful message… “it’s all in the relationships.” No other gifts matter when the relationships are right. Our loved ones, our friends, our co-workers…relationships are the true gifts. Relationships are the “stuff” (excuse the necessary poor grammar) upon which peace on earth, good will toward men can ever hope to flourish. We need them, but…but, we do not need them most of all. We need something else more than our loved ones. We need the Loving One.

During this Christmas season, if everything lines up perfectly, we will know without doubt the baby once wrapped in swaddling clothes in the manger, draped in ripped and tattered rags on the cross, now arrayed in robes of righteousness on the throne is the Greatest Gift of All

During this Christmas season, let’s turn our hearts here. In fact, let’s remember it always. The Apostle Paul did. Right in the middle of reminding folks about needs and giving, he wrote…

The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.  As it is written, “He has distributed freely, he has given to the poor; his righteousness endures forever.” He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God. For the ministry of this service is not only supplying the needs of the saints but is also overflowing in many thanksgivings to God. By their approval of this service, they will glorify God because of your submission that comes from your confession of the gospel of Christ, and the generosity of your contribution for them and for all others, while they long for you and pray for you, because of the surpassing grace of God upon you.

Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift!  (2 Corinthians 9:6-15)

That last line was his heart breaking out with Spirit-induced praise for the greatest act of giving ever. It is the heart of God’s word, the Bible! That gift is not others, or stuff, it’s not even salvation…that gift is Jesus.

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”   ~~John 3:16


Hyperactive or Leisurely?

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What is it about a really long day that makes it so much better than a short one? Yesterday was filled to the brim beginning with morning church admin business, moving directly into a lengthy hospital clinic visit–including the long drive to and from Lakewood, rushing back to Silverdale so as not to miss little Rachel’s birthday party, then home to watch the news with an unintentional, brief interlude of dosing off (apparently the news wasn’t very exciting), and then off to my room for several hours of reading. In contrast, today’s schedule calls for a few errands and one joyfully anticipated lunch appointment with a good friend and ministry partner. Of course, I’ll find productive ways to use the “empty” hours, but I know late tonight will feel less satisfying simply because every moment was not hyperactive. Is this a good thing or not?

I think both. What do you think?

The soul of the sluggard craves and gets nothing, while the soul of the diligent is richly supplied. Proverb 13:4

The fear of the LORD leads to life, and whoever has it rests satisfied; he will not be visited by harm. Proverb 19:23


It’s Not Ranting. It’s Hope.

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I pulled this quote from the Shout Your Abortion website: “If you know more than three women, you likely know someone who has had an abortion. We are your sisters, your bosses, your daughters, and your friends. But you don’t know our stories because those working to eliminate our rights have demonized us. Because of this, many of us have chosen to hide or have been deeply harmed by shame.”

I hear and/or read this claim (the demonizing part) all the time. However, I personally do not see this. I am able to admit that I may not be “able” to hear or see it since I’m a guy. I can also admit I am not the best read person in the world. As well, perhaps I just don’t have large enough social circles. However, I doubt these cover the whole of the absence. I am the first to denounce the wayward antics of people like Westboro Baptist Church, but surely you cannot think they actually speak for my Savior or the real church. And, of course, the rantings of some who make vulgar, filthy language raids in comment sections, while egregious and hateful, don’t represent anyone I’ve read lately or anyone I know that has any public clout at all.

So, respectfully, for those of you I know, love, admire, yet disagree with, could I ask you to point me to sources where you find those who “have demonized” women. If they are in my “camp” I’d like an opportunity to pray about it and perhaps offer an olive branch.

As I wait, consider this…this is the biblically informed message I hope my camp is sharing…

As an advocate for the suffering, if I removed my breath from the plight of the border-crossing crisis impacting thousands of helpless children in the American southland, from third-world starvation, from the memory and lingering effects of slavery, from the memory and lingering effects of women’s suffrage, from the memory and lingering effects of the holocaust, from inner city and rural decay leaving children at risk, from the senseless brutality of driving-under-the-influence, from the horrors of human trafficking, and from the billions who have yet to have the wonder of learning about God’s love for them, most would cry foul. So hear me when I say I and those I know find no discrepancy between these messages of hope and our prolife hopes. We’re not interested in name calling. All we want to convey is this…In all cultures and through all of time those who have made sacrifices on behalf of the defenseless and less fortunate have been called heroes. Laying aside one’s own drive for self-preservation and self-fulfillment for the hopes and benefits of the defenseless brings out the honor of one’s soul. Mom and Dad, please, may we help you see this is what your baby and the world needs from you. Be a hero.



I’m Voting With Mother Teresa

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Over and over the debate is heard among those who cannot decide whether or not they will vote Republican this time around. For me the decision is quite easy. While I am neither republican nor democrat and while you will often hear me saying or find me writing, “Please, please do not take your marching orders from the left or the right. Look instead to the one who is perfectly balanced. His name is Jesus,” this time around, in this year’s national election my vote will go to the right. Why? Simply because I plan to take a chance that Trump will stand by his word regarding pro-life issues. I’ve done so with others many times in both state and federal elections. I’ve been let down way more often than not, yet I must continue to give voice to the helpless. In this year’s election we have on the one hand a candidate who promises more and more and more money and more and more and more expansion for pro-abortion causes and on the other hand another candidate who says otherwise. Simple logic dictates my choice. This is way more than the “lesser of two evils” argument. It’s not a vote for a presidential candidate. It’s a vote of hope, be it ever so small, on behalf of the littles. I can do no other.

I agree completely with Mother Teresa who said in her 1979 Noble Peace Prize Acceptance Speech:

“…And I feel one thing I want to share with you all, the greatest destroyer of peace today is the cry of the innocent unborn child. For if a mother can murder her own child in her womb, what is left for you and for me to kill each other? Even in the scripture it is written: Even if mother could forget her child – I will not forget you – I have carved you in the palm of my hand. Even if mother could forget, but today millions of unborn children are being killed. And we say nothing. In the newspapers you read numbers of this one and that one being killed, this being destroyed, but nobody speaks of the millions of little ones who have been conceived to the same life as you and I, to the life of God, and we say nothing, we allow it. To me the nations who have legalized abortion, they are the poorest nations. They are afraid of the little one, they are afraid of the unborn child, and the child must die because they don’t want to feed one more child, to educate one more child, the child must die.

And here I ask you, in the name of these little ones, for it was that unborn child that recognized the presence of Jesus when Mary came to visit Elizabeth, her cousin. As we read in the gospel, the moment Mary came into the house, the little one in the womb of his mother, lift with joy, recognized the Prince of Peace. And so today, let us here make a strong resolution, we are going to save every little child, every unborn child, give them a chance to be born. And what we  are doing, we are fighting abortion by adoption, and the good God has blessed the work so beautifully that we have saved thousands of children, and thousands of children have found a home where they are loved, they are wanted, they are cared. We have brought so much joy in the homes that there was not a child, and so today, I ask His Majesties here before you all who come from different countries, let us all pray that we have the courage to stand by the unborn child, and give the child an opportunity to love and to be loved, and I think with God’s grace we will be able to bring peace in the world.”

When the accusations of “simplistic, one issue voting” are leveled, I will accept one of them, but not the other. One issue? Perhaps. Simplistic? Only the mindless or discompassionate could think so.

Bible, Hate speech

An Alarming Trend…that may bring opportunity.

News from across the Big Eastern Pond is no longer as startling and surprising as it may have been a few years ago. Still it’s alarming, since lately the USofA seems to take all her marching orders for social structure from Europe. In an article (see link below), from The HeraldScotland, a visiting youth choir from Texas is denounced for being a mouth-piece of a mega-church with intentions for “pushing their extremely fundamentalist agenda.”

While the intolerant and hateful characterization offered by one of the folks interviewed in this article is the alarming part, there is some truth found here. The church is different. It must be different, because much of the world loves many things God calls evil. Running from this truth in an attempt to be relevant only causes the church to become irrelevant regarding the love, mercy, and justuce of the Lord. Of course many, like the individual quoted in this article, believe the evangelical church by nature looks like Westboro Baptist Church, but they are wrong. They may not know they are wrong, still that is their perception. In reality, the real church looks nothing like Westboro. Instead, like the Savior, the real church will offer both truth and love. It will remain high on both relationship and conversation. It will recognize that much that passes for compassion these days is hateful and harmful. However, it will not say so through clenched fists and angry lips. Rather, it will imitate the Lord’s question and advice on behalf of a lady being tormented by haughty men. After pointing out the wayward and selfish intentions of the men, Jesus stood up and asked, “Lady, where are your accusers? Is there now none?’ She replied, ‘No one, Lord.’ And Jesus said, ‘Neither do I accuse you. Go and sin no more.'” Of course, the last five words will always cause an uproar these days. For those swept up in that uproar, I offer a challenge: do some old fashioned homework…find out what that word “sin” meant in the original language and context. To those in the pro-Jesus movement I also offer a challenge: remember the true wonder and beauty of the Lord’s ways travel with our hands and feet and lips as we engage others with both light and love…our worldview is neither left nor right, but biblical.



Thoughts About Dallas Et. Al.

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A week tucked away in the country at Camp Morrow on the eastern side of Mt Hood sharing God’s message of love ended spectacularly. God moved! Lives changed! Love wins! Then, early this morning, I asked if anyone had news from the “outside world.” Nothing. There was no TV, no internet, etc.

Now, sitting at a road side rest stop on my drive home, I feel the sting of the fall once again. Deciding to check the news I was slammed with the horror of more death. So here I sit between the Mountain of the Light of Life and the Valley of the shadow of death. On one hand I witnessed the miracle of God’s love…on the other hand I witness the terror of evil…and this one thing I know…I will pray and preach and scratch and claw til my dying breath to proclaim “There is no salvation to the left, there is no salvation to the right, there is only salvation on the narrow way that leads straight to the everlasting arms.” Well do I know the sting of evil that brings brutal, premature death and wrecked lives. Yet better still do I know the balm of love that brings eternal, mature life and hopeful hearts. Please please come out from the false hopes of the right and left and walk upon the Way.

There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death. Proverbs 14:12

Jesus: I am the way and the truth and the life. John 14:6







Locked Out

Locked OutOne evening. One drive. One Chore. One need. One mistake. Many blessings.

The other night I drove to my father’s old house to complete one final repair in the back and forth negotiation for its sale. While on my way I noticed my tank was low on fuel…really low. The nearest gas station rested anxiously in a community known for…well, umm…let’s say my Spidey-senses were on full alert.

Pulling in, I covered my angles. I surveyed a full 360…took note of vehicles, individuals, groups, and escape routes. I checked my pockets for what could be left in the car…and locked. With debit card in hand, I proceeded to pump the gas. As I figured, smooth sailing. Feeling good about being prepared even though I really did not anticipate trouble, I replaced the gas nozzle and proceeded to get back in the car.

“Argh! (Deep guttural groan)! Are you kidding me!?” I stood their berating myself. The door was locked! My self-proclaimed ninja skills placed my wallet and phone under the seat. However, my lack of attention to every detail left the keys in the ignition!

My eyes went back to their search. “Now what? Options? Maybe I should just get a good sized rock and put it through a window…yeah, that’ll do it…and maybe next time I won’t be so stupid.” Well, perhaps not. So into the “seedy” little store I walked.

There I met a line of people 20 strong. Most presented themselves as the cigarette-dangling-from-the-corner-of-the-mouth crowd members. About half were dressed in pajama bottoms and sweatshirts. There were a few of the “pants on the ground, pants on the ground, acting like a fool with your pants on the ground” crowd members. No doubt my profile meter instantly engaged.

My turn at the cash register finally arrived. Sheepishly I asked, “What are the chances you might have an old fashioned wire coat hanger I could use to get into my locked car?’ The lady smiled…broadly and knowingly. She answered, “Sorry.” I nodded my head affirmatively and began to walk out.

A lady who appeared to be about 30 years old said, “I think I might have one in my car. If not, I only live about a block away. I know I have one there. Let me check the car. If I don’t have one, just let me pump my five dollars into my car and I will drive home and bring one back.”

I said thank-you and asked, “What about a screw driver? It will give me a little leverage to create a gap so I can get the wire past the door.”

She replied, “I’ll check. I know I have one at my house.” And away she started to go.

As she was leaving, another lady, about the same age, said, “I know I do not have a screw driver, but I have the coat hanger.” Both the first lady and the second were dressed in the pajama bottom theme. Both appeared down on their luck. Yet both smiled. Both were sincere.

There in a moment we had a team and a plan. The first lady would retrieve a screw driver from her home, the second lady would supply the coat hanger, I would regret some of my initial feelings and attempt to open my car door.

Little did I know the resources would increase, the plan would be renegotiated, and I would be delighted. I went out to the car. From across the parking lot the second lady used hand signals to let me know she would drive her car to mine. She rolled up in a 25 to 30-year-old SUV. She got out. So did her husband/boyfriend. He completely fit the evening’s gas station theme. He was also using a pair of vise-grips to bend the wire coat hanger into a tool.

I expressed my thanks once again. He said, “No problem. Let me have a crack at it.”

He handed me the vise-grips. There was an instant moment of tactical recognition. I used the handle of the vise-grips to leverage the door and he slipped the hanger in.

One attempt. Two. Three. Four. It just wasn’t working. The lady continued to smile, offer encouragement, and help her man and I not fall into that frustration we guys sometimes allow to erupt when our mini-heroism is met with situational failure. He tried again. And again. Still…nothing.

Another fella walked up. Arms covered with tattoos, emaciated with that you-know-what appearance, but smiling, he fell into natural conversation with the others, “Locked out, huh? Toyota, huh? Anyone have a Ford key? Sometimes if you jiggle them in a Toyota it will work.”

The lady said, “Ha, we still have our old Ford key on our key ring, let’s give it a try.”

Jiggle, jiggle…the lock button moved…but didn’t pop up. Another try. No success.

The newcomer said, “Well, almost.” With his smile bigger than ever, he backed up…but stayed engaged, added to the conversation, and joined the lady in offering encouragement.

A moment or two later the first lady drove back up. She got out of her old car, smiled, and said, “Still at it, huh? Well will the screw driver help?”

Then another car drove up. Another lady got out. The first lady (keeping up?) said, “Oh this is my best friend. I called her. She came to help too.”

Again, I offered another round of thanks. The fella with the coat hanger and I attacked with new determination. The screw driver allowed me to open a wide space. In went the coat hanger and boom-shacka-laka the door was unlocked.

The small crowd erupted with a cheer.

The second man said, “Seriously, I just stopped to help, but as long as we’re all here, does anyone have a smoke I can borrow?” The man and wife/girlfriend both reached in their pockets for their cigarette packs. In an instant, cigarettes were presented to the man who asked. With a nod of appreciation, he accepted.

I said thank you once again to everyone. “Hey, we’ve all been there was the common reply.” I then asked, “Can I do anything to repay your kindness? Can I buy anyone gas for their car? Who wants a Coke or something? Anything?”



“Not a chance,”

“No need,”

“Hey everyone has needs from time to time, don’t worry about it,”

softly fell from their lips.

I was blessed.

I was humbled.

I was grateful…for each of them…for God.

So, as everyone started to end the impromptu fellowship group, I offered, “Well thank you again. Seriously, thank you and God bless you.”

One of the ladies said, “He’s why we do it.”

And we the strangers, no longer strangers, went our separate ways.

The Holy Spirit whispered with illumination, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me” (John 10:17).