Tuesday, June 11, 2013

A prayer from Psalm 1:1-2

Father, you promised that those who do not follow the advice of the wicked would be blessed. Right now, it seems the advice of the wicked is coming from every direction. My computer, my television, my radio, my political leaders, my conversations with others. Teach me, Lord, to seek your wisdom first each day, last each day, and throughout each day. Help me by reminding me to make your voice more prominent than any other in my daily intake. You said “My sheep know my voice.” Teach me to listen for you.

Put me on a new path, not the same one everyone else follows. We all seem to be drifting downstream with the world and it affects our every thought. Teach me to swim against the flow like a strong and health river salmon. You promised that those who overcome and keep your word to the end would rule the nations. Teach me, and teach your church to overcome by the word and the blood of the lamb, so that we might have dominion when the morning comes.

Now, more than ever in my life, I am subjected to the scorn of mockers. They laugh at you. They say there is no God. They say “Where is he? Why doesn’t he answer?” They refuse to open their eyes to see your miraculous works for men, and refuse to believe that Jesus is the resurrected Lord. I am discouraged when my preaching falls on the deafened ears of mockers. I am intimidated and nearly silenced. Then I remember that your Spirit is in me. Greater is He who is in me than he who is in the world. Teach me to boldly proclaim your word to the mockers of this world.

I love your word. I yearn to hear it, to study it, to live it, and to proclaim it. Day and night I want to learn, obey, and teach your word. My confession is that I do not organize my day each day to have sufficient time with your scriptures. The result is haphazard; floods and famines. I am not wandering in a desert from oasis to oasis, but rather I have a spring of living water within me and copies of  your scriptures all around me.  My commitment is to daily read and meditate, so that I might learn them all by heart and live them out each day.

Thank you for this life of mine, it is yours.


Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Nilson and the Three LIttle Pigs

My son Nilson is five years old. Every night before he sleeps, I either tell him a story or read one with him. Sometimes it’s a Bible story (though lately he has not liked those before sleeping because of all the violence), sometimes it’s a traditional bedtime story, and sometimes its just a story I make up on the spot. Sometimes, he likes to tell me a story.


Nilson had been thinking about some Bible stories a few nights ago when I was telling the three little pigs again (at  his request.) He asked me to change it. I told a funny version, then he told one. Below are close approximations of the stories we told. The first one is mine the second one is Nilson’s.


The Four Little Pigs


Once upon a time there were four little pigs. One build a house of bricks. One built a house of sticks, one built a house of straw, and one build no house at all. He he preferred to live off the land and sleep in the field.

Once upon a time there were three little pigs.


The Three Pigs


Once upon a time there were three little pigs. The youngest pig was a foolish pig. He build his house of straw on the sand. His brother was foolish too. He build his house of sticks on the sand as well. They had a wise brother. He build his brick house on the rock.


One day a big bad wolf said to the youngest pig. “Open the door and let me in. I’m hungry.”


“Nope.” said the little pig.


“Ok, I will blow your house down and then eat you.” said the wolf. So he huffed and puffed and blew against the house of the foolish pig and it fell with a great crash. The little pig ran away to his wise brother’s house.


The wolf, saw the stick house nearby and said the same thing to the next pig.


One day a big bad wolf said to the pig. “Open the door and let me in. I’m hungry.”


“Sorry.” said the pig.


“Ok, I will blow your house down and then eat you.” said the wolf. So he huffed and puffed and blew against the house of the foolish pig and it fell with a great crash. This pig ran away to his wise brother’s house, too.


The wolf went to the wise pig’s house. “Open the door and let me in. I’m hungry.”


“Okay” said the wise pig. He opened the door, put a rock in his sling, spun it round and round and slung the rock as hard as he could at the wolf. It hit him right between the eyes.


The big bad wolf never bothered the pigs again.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Shanghaied and Marooned

Sometimes, out of the blue, you find yourself in a moment and a place where there is no other way to describe what you’re feeling than the word “Alone.”


This happened to me a dozen years ago, in Shanghai, China. My friends and I had crossed the city to attend a legal expatriate evangelical church service. This was a long trip that involved a 40 minute bus ride, a 20 minute walk and a 20 minute subway ride.

Returning after the service, we had ridden the subway, and were walking the long walk to the bus stop. My stomach was hurting. Several times, I had to ask my group to stop and wait for me to rest. We made it to the bus stop and got our bus.

Busses are always overcrowded in Shanghai, even the two story ones like the one we were on. Sometimes there is so little space, that you have to stand there with one foot on top of your other one. Ten minutes into the bus ride, I knew I was going to throw up. I just prayed for the bus to stop so I could get off. I fought to get to a door.

The bus stopped. I got off. None of my friends knew. I made it to a tree and threw up into the gutter for several minutes. I then sat down and recovered my strength. After a few minutes, it dawned on me. I was somewhere in the middle of Shanghai, China. It was late at night, and no one even knew I was gone.


A couple of days ago, we came back very late from a Bible study in another neighborhood. my son had fallen asleep in the car, so we put him in bed. He and my wife take a certain medication that is on a strict 12 hour schedule. When we got home, we realized that there was none left. The only option was for me to go downtown to the 24 hour pharmacy and purchase some more.

This worried my wife. For one, it was late and downtown isn’t safe at night. Two, I am presently deaf and that makes it even less safe for me to go alone. Three, we had no cash and just barely enough in the bank to cover the cost of the generic version of medicine, unless they charged extra at night. Four, they were already 2 hours late taking the medicine and she was a pile of nerves.

I took the car downtown and parked a few blocks away from the pharmacy. I walked up to the window and in just a few minutes time, had the medicine in hand. I jogged back to the car, and seeing several men sitting on the sidewalk, nearby, decided to get in and drive away quickly. As I got in the car, I saw one of the men getting up. I closed the door and started the car.

When I pulled away, I got about 50 yards, and felt a pop. The car stopped. I coasted to a stop on the side of the road. Oops. I opened the hood. I checked the spark plugs. the distributor cap, the carburetor, the fuel filter and pump. Nothing.

It was 1:00 AM. I couldn’t get the car to start. I had no money for a bus ticket, not that there was one going to my neighborhood anyway. I had no money for a taxi. I had no way to tell my wife that the car had broken down, or that I would be very late.

Monday, February 13, 2012

A Morning Prayer

Then Jesus told his disciples, "If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul? For the Son of Man is going to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay each person according to what he has done. --Matthew 16:24-27

Lord Jesus, I have a problem, and I need your help. You said whoever is unwilling to give up all that he has can not be your disciple. You told your disciples to first count the cost. You turned away men who said they would follow, but kept obligations in their hearts. I need your help.

I have trouble denying myself.

When I am ignored, neglected, set aside, devalued, overlooked, or forgotten, it hurts. I want to become bitter. I want to ignore the needs of others. I want to isolate myself, and just do things for me.

Remind me, Lord, to be grateful. For I have also been noticed and valued. I have also been remembered and appreciated. I have been given special attention and compliment. Above all, you remembered my name and wrote it in your book. How blessed I am.

Help me, Lord, not to neglect others when I feel down. Help me to show my wife and son how much I value them. Open my eyes to ways to remember them and give them my time and my attention. Help me love them with my actions.

Show me, Lord Jesus, how you suffered these things and how you overcame.  Let these events reveal themselves to you as I study your gospels. Open my eyes to your example. Help me to meditate on what your word says.

Teach me your truth, Father.  I will trust it and declare it. Help me to share with my wife and son, my family and friends, my colleagues and strangers, and my enemies.  Each one has a special value, whether or not we feel valued.

For we were created with the imprint of your image. You love us, and this is they way you showed it. You gave your son, so that whoever believes in him would not perish and suffer eternal isolation, but have everlasting life with you and all who have believed, where there will be perfect communion and perfect love.

Empower me to share that kind of perfect love with others today. When I am slighted, I will refuse to let anger arise in my heart. I will be patient and show love. I will deny myself and follow the way of Christ. When I am ridiculed, I will make my heart content to be counted worthy of suffering. Yes, I will take up my cross and follow the way of Christ.


Friday, November 25, 2011

Death Threat*

The older twin vowed to kill his brother, a rotten cheat and a liar. The swindling brother ran. He stayed away in faraway land for many years.


There, he himself became the victim of another rotten cheating liar. The swindled swindler wrestled with God and learned to trust him. He changed his ways. He returned home, though he feared for his life.

As soon as the older brother saw him, he rushed him with all his might. He grabbed him by the neck, and hugged him, and kissed him and cried.


When the way we live pleases God, he turns our enemies into friends. Proverbs 16:7


*This little story is based on Genesis 29-33

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

A Prayer from Psalm 15

Lord, I want to be received into your tent, and I want to dwell on your holy mountain.

Help me to walk with integrity and obey your laws. Help me to do what is right and always speak the truth. Guard my tongue, so that I do not say evil things about people behind their backs, spread gossip, or harm others with my words.

Make me to admire godly people and to sincerely lose all respect and admiration for those who walk the path of evil.

Let me be a man of my word, even when it means I will be poorer for it. Help me to be generous and anxious to help others for no personal profit. Keep me from selling out, taking bribes, or letting money influence me.

Hold me to these good things, Lord, and I will never be shaken.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Endsley – Chapter 1 – part 1

0The world is not so old as people think. A lot can be forgotten in a short amount of time. Who remembers the twelve kingdoms of Endsley, the Great Betrayal, or even one of those mighty cathedrals that crumbled to dust? In fact, no one would have ever remembered...
But a box was found, and we have all been taught a new, old chapter of our history...

. . .
“You turned it down?” Davenport shouted in disbelief. He opened the door wide and propped a rock against it. The old monk's study needed a good airing out. It often smelled of dust and strong oil. The old man had a habit of reading late at night.
“Of course I did, lad. Have you not learned anything?” Brother Dellan was a small man. He was far from handsome, but had a tender smile that made people comfortable. Though he still had a full head of hair, his body had grown soft over the years. His limp was barely noticeable. “Just as I told you. There is nothing to be gained and nothing that can be changed.”

“But this would be your chance to influence so many people; to teach the whole kingdom what you've taught here. What greater position is there?”
Brother Dellan took the heavy bag from the his apprentice, opened it and carefully laid out each of the books on the desk. He folded the bag and put it away. He then filled a copper cup with water and placed it beside the work area. “I have taken the greater position,” he replied, bowing. The young man sat down. “Now, Devan, your assignment.”
The student pulled some papers from the stack and handed them to his mentor. “I've translated this one from Hebrew to Latin and to English.”
“Very well, I will correct it later. Now, use your voice.”
Davenport picked up his parchments and began to search for the text to translate.
“No!” Brother Dellan interrupted. “If you have to read it you don't know it. If you don't know it you can not teach it. Tell it from your heart.”
Cum autem esset Iosue in agro urbis Hiericho,” he began.
The old man sighed. “No one understands Latin anymore. Do not be so formal about it, Just tell it to me plain.”
“Joshua was near Jericho. He looked up and saw a man standing there in front of him with a drawn sword in his hand. So he approached him and asked 'Sir, are you on our side or are you with our adversaries.'
'I am neither for you nor for them,' the man replied. 'I am the commander of the armies of God, and I have come.'
Joshua fell to his face in reverence and said 'I am at your command, my Lord. What word do you have for me?'”
“Excellent!” Brother Dellan clapped his hands in amusement. “You will do fine.”
For as long as Davenport could remember Brother Dellan had lived in the wayside chapel, spending most of his time with the Testaments. He opened the chapel for a special service on the Lord’s day and any other time people could gather. Occasionally someone down on his luck would come by looking for help. The Brother would receive him for three days and then introduce him to a local landowner looking for hired help.
Brother Dellan was well respected throughout the countryside, but even more so at the High Cathedral. It was well known that the council had a unanimous vote waiting for him when the time to elect a new High Priest of Endsley. Even the king himself wanted Brother Dellan in this position. This is why it was such a surprise to Davenport when Brother Dellan declined the offer.
It was a surprise to everyone.

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