Wednesday, May 30, 2007

You take what life gives you and just go on

Dorothea S. Kopplin wrote a small book in 1945 called “Something to live by”. When I bought this hard cover little book it cost thirty-five cents. It’s so old and fragile I open it carefully because I’m afraid it’s yellow pages will crumble and be lost.

In the Preface Dorothea writes: “When I was told I could not live to bring up my children I decided to write a book to serve as a substitute in their lives”. This little book is filled with wonderful quotations from great literature, popular wisdom, and the Bible.

In the “Purpose of sorrow” she wrote something that took me back to my youth. I understood it completely because my Father was a very intelligent man, and the Superintendent of a Textile mill. His office was only two blocks from our house and I often visited him.

It was in the late 1930’s and he showed me the massive looms and how they worked. He often designed the beautiful patterns for the jacquard looms. This was before computers and everything was done by hand and careful drawings on punch cards that controlled picks that lifted up the treads faster than the eye could see.

He gave each of his children a set of towels, and other things that he designed and then produced on the looms. Mine is a gold color with black Egyptian figures inset around the sides.

Dorothea writes: “A Christians life is lain in the loom of time to a pattern which he does not see, but God does; and his heart is in the shuttle. On one side of the loom is sorrow, and on the other side is joy. The shuttle, struck alternately by each, flies back and forth, carrying the thread, which is white or black as the pattern needs.

In the end, when God lifts up the finished garment, and all its changing hues shall be seen, it will then appear that the dark and deep colors were as needful to beauty as the bright and lighter ones”.

It’s amazing that 62 years later Dorothea’s little book filled with messages of courage, love, hope, and comfort for her children is still being a blessing.

She didn’t whine or cry, or moan about her problems, but wrote everything she could find that was uplifting, thought provoking, filled with love and the goodness of God.

Question: Who can we encourage, laugh with and speak a word of encouragement to them today? Everyone we meet needs it.

Sunday, May 27, 2007


Mary and Joseph missed Jesus on the way home from the temple and there is probably not a parent alive who couldn’t empathize with their anxiety mixed with relief as they told twelve-year-old Jesus... Son, “Why have you treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you.” (Luke 2:48)

What is Anxiety and Worry? Most often it’s a vague dread or fear of loosing something. Has a tight, choking collar ever caused you anguish? Or have you ever been so anxious about something that you were “all choked up”? Our words anguish, anxious and anxiety come from the Latin “angere” which means to choke.

Worry is constantly thinking about horrible possibilities. Often there is a very slim chance of any of them ever happening. In traveling all over the world I’ve spent the night in an open hut in the middle of the Amazon Jungle.

I could have thought about snakes, spiders and bugs that feed on human blood but I didn’t. I’ve learned to prepare. I bought and carried with me a U.S. Army issued Mosquito net and I had a reasonable night’s sleep. Unfortunately some of our group did worry all night long. However, nothing happened to anyone.

The fear of bugs, snakes, and spiders when you are in a heavily secure penthouse apartment on the 12th floor of a five star Hotel is irrational and dangerous anxiety. We can let our sick imagination run wild and suffer from it. Whatever we habitually think about will determine how we feel.

(Phil 4:6-7 NIV) “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. {7} And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

The Bible is filled with promises that God will take care of us. (Isa 41:10 NIV) “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

Dr. Hans Selye M.D. spent a lifetime studying stress. His book “The stress of Life” is a world famous classic.” He writes: “There is good stress and bad stress. Good stress is the concern that causes you to anticipate problems and create a solution for them”.

Bad stress is the constant agitated, unpleasant worry that causes us to go over and over the same ground until we are actually sick with the never-ending effort. We never find a solution, never resolve the problem, never can say...there...that’s fixed.

Hans Selye M.D. gives us a solution for worry and anxiety. “Nothing is accomplished by telling people not to worry. They cannot help it”. This world famous Doctor recommends something he calls “Deviation.” You could call it “diversion” or turning something aside from its course”.

A rich, stressed out executive wouldn’t think of moving his heavy furniture, yet he will go regularly for a “workout” at his expensive club. Doing something else helps relieve stress. Watch someone carrying a heavy suitcase. They keep changing it from one arm to the other. That’s deviation. A hard days work can make you sleep like a log, or keep you awake all night. Work that leads to a solution prepares you for rest and sleep.

Diversion can be almost anything that absorbs our interest and thoughts. It's well worth the effort when it stops depression, worry and constant fear and anxiety.

Pray this prayer. “Father, thank you for this day. I’ve done my best and I’m going to leave it in your hands until tomorrow. When I awake in the morning show me what to do with tomorrow”.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007


I have three bird feeders hanging off of my back porch. One is for the beautiful red cardinals, and the other two are for the smaller birds like golden finches, and common sparrows. Then there are the bluebirds, and dozens of other species like the beautiful Red Breasted black and white Gross Beak whose ordinary habitat is northern Ohio and Michigan. For some reason he has migrated to Georgia in the spring for the last three years.

I’ve been doing this for years and enjoy watching them up close. When I feed them I remember that Jesus said in Matthew 10 that not a sparrow falls to the ground with out God seeing it, and “we are worth more than many sparrows.” I often remember the words of an old song: “just remember in his word, how he feeds the little birds, take your burdens to the Lord and leave them there.”

We have a deal. I feed them and they put on their wonderful show for all to see. The cardinals courtship is almost human. The female will sit on the railing of the porch and tremble and shake her wings. The blazing red Male will fly down from the feeder and reach over and put a seed in her mouth. After a few time of this playful behavior they fly off together.

They occasionally fly into the sliding glass doors of our covered back porch. Most of the time they are stunned and helpless. When I hear the sickening “thump” I go out and look for them. I pick them up gently, sooth their feathers, and wait for them to recover.

One day I heard the loud “thump” and went out to pick up an especially beautiful young red cardinal. It had the most beautiful soft colors, was flat on the deck, with its head up, wings spread out, and crying loudly. It offered no resistance when I picked it up, and gently cradled it in my hands. I sat down in a chair, gently smoothed it’s soft feathers, and after a few minutes I got it to sit on my finger. It tightly gripped my finger for several minutes as I watched it blink it’s eyes, and made no effort to move.

For over five minutes it sat on my finger and finally I moved my hand up and down. It moved its head up and down and made no effort to leave. I felt like it was time for this little fellow to go about his business, and for me to do something else. I nudged it to fly away, and it flew a few feet to the railing around our porch. Then it made a diving flight toward a large bush at the corner of our property.

In sadness and horror I saw a large hawk dive and grab it a few feet before it reached the safety of the bush. I felt absolutely terrible as the hawk flew away with it. That wasn’t what I wanted at all. The hawk had chased it into the glass window, and then flew up in a tree to wait. I couldn’t see the hawk, but the little cardinal knew it was there.

What a terrible, unintended consequence, from my effort to help a small, scared little bird. I thought about all the times when I want to do something, or more important I want God to do something. I can’t see the future, but God can. I have a feeling that God often turns us in another direction, or refuses to answer our prayers because He knows our enemy is waiting with some painful, consequence that we can’t possibly imagine.

There are two great truths that we need to know about. When we do things they always have consequences. Sometimes it turns out to be good, and at other times it turns out to be terrible. Everything God does also has consequences. The only difference is that God can see the future. He also can see the consequences and the long lasting effects of answering our prayers.

We are on this earth to become something. God has a plan for us. Some plans may bring us joy, and just as often there is a hidden thorn of pain in the process. God knows good and evil, and we have to experience both in order to become like Him.

Many deliverance preachers and “word of faith teachers” will tell you to “never, ever, use that faith-destroying phrase when you pray”: “If it be thy will.” Then they twist the scriptures, make up false doctrines to prove that we are little gods, and can have whatever we want. (Praise the Lord and pass the offering buckets.) Yet, it was Jesus who prayed that very same prayer – “if it be thy will”. How could they deceive us and tell us not to follow the life and example of Jesus? (Matthew 26:39)


Friday, May 11, 2007

Does Prayer really work?

Prayer is a part of daily life for most of the people on this earth. Moslems, Hindu, Buddhist, Jews, Christian, - the list is endless. And even those who don’t believe in a higher power will often act very much like they do during a time of crisis. As the old saying goes, there are no atheists in foxholes.

Endless prayers by the millions are prayed each day. Years ago I walked through the mountains of Japan and saw prayers written on paper, tied to sacred trees and carried away by the winds. In the Far East I’ve watched Buddhist endlessly spin their prayer wheels, pray in front of Giant images of Buddha, some painted and others covered with gold leaf.

In Singapore I went into a temple called the house of ten thousand Gods and saw people praying before an endless array of images representing every kind of God imaginable. I’ve watched them light candles, incense sticks, repeatedly throw moon-shaped blocks on the floor until they fell the right way. I've seen them present offering of fruit and vegetables to their silent God.

I've personally been blessed all through my life to have many prayers answered... sometimes in spectacular ways.

C. S. Lewis said: “We don’t get our prayers answered because prayer is weak but because it’s powerful and strong. Prayer is so strong that if God’s didn’t reserve for himself the right to say no it would be an activity too dangerous for man".

He went on to say that there is no difference between prayer and works. By works we are trying to change and affect circumstances around us, and by praying we are doing exactly the same thing. “It’s no more strange,” observed Lewis, “that God would allow us to change things by works than that he would allow us to do the same thing by prayer.”

Jesus prayed at the grave of Lazarus and said: “I thank you Father that you always hear me.” His request was granted and Lazarus came out of his grave. But later in the Garden Jesus prayed three times for the cup to pass and finally said: “Not my will but thine be done.” He accepted the Father’s better plan.

The simple question is this: Has Jesus made certain promises that takes God off of his throne, abdicated his rule over this world and by the words of Jesus given to man the right to do whatever he thinks best? Has God really given to man the right to speak into existence anything he wants?

It’s really scary when we try to picture the perfect candidate to wield such enormous power. Think of any TV preacher, Pastor, teacher, church deacon, or religious person, and then imagine them being in complete control of this whole earth.

If the “seed faith gimmic” really worked all these false teachers would have to do is to “plant their own seed offerings regularly” and they would soon have so much money they wouldn’t know what to do with it.

So---what is the rule that makes prayer successful? Jesus was submissive to the Father’s will. In John 14 Jesus told his disciples that if they loved him they would obey him. If they didn’t obey him they didn’t love him.

Faithfully obeying the inner voice of God Spirit inside us is the real meaning of "Asking in the name of Jesus..." In verse 31 Jesus said: “...the world must learn that I love the Father and that I do exactly what my Father has commanded me.”

The true believing Christian always has his prayers answered in God’s own perfect way. God often replaces our misguided and shortsighted request with his own eternal wisdom and all things work together for good for those who love him.

Sunday, May 6, 2007

Who killed those people in Kansas?

F-5 Tornado wipes out Kansas Town

GREENSBURG, Kan. (May 6) - Searchers resumed their work after daylight Sunday, looking for anyone who might have been trapped by a tornado that wiped out this South Central Kansas town. Saturday night’s rash of storms added to the anxiety as state officials confirmed eight tornadoes touching down in central and southern Kansas and the National Weather Service reported dozens more.

Nine people died in a tornado Friday, then 8 more on Saturday. Over a hundred were seriously injured, and every business along the town’s main street has been demolished. All that remains are steel girders, tattered insulation, and splintered wood. The town’s fire engines were crushed. Debris from Friday night’s tornado was blown back into the streets.

As Sunday morning broke here, all the churches have been destroyed. Scores of people had been injured, Among the few structures that survived was the Bar H Tavern, the town’s lone bar.

Questions: “Why was good people killed, injuried, and all the churches destroyed but a local bar left intact?” Did God have anything to do with it? Who is in charge of our world anyway? In a few days I will post my answer to this.

In the meantime, what do you think about it? Please post your thoughts or questions about it.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Christians don't talk much about heaven. I wonder why?

As an ordained minister for almost 60 years, I can count on one hand the people who have any concept of what heaven will be like. If I ask for their opinion they say: "I don't have any idea except it will great over there." I wish someone would send me their opinion about what they think it might be like in the next world. How about you?

Better than the Alternative

A friend stopped to talk with me in a store when I wasn't feeling well. I told him about my health problems and he said it was better than the alternative. "Oh, I replied, you mean to die and go straight to heaven and never have any more problems?"
He looked stunned and said "I'm going to have to stop saying that. Your right."

I found a blog in a ditch...

I finally learned what a blog is....It's short for weblog. Or a diary posted on the internet. Here is a blog by my daughter Debbie who does her stuff in N. Canton Ohio.

My Grandson

Novice Monks in Burma