Isn’t that the message of Jesus Christ?

You might think it strange — even heretical — that a message purportedly from God Himself can be boiled down to a single, three-word phrase (and a hashtag, at that!), but why wouldn’t God’s message to us be something that anyone can grasp? No matter what the material world thinks or says about us, Jesus Christ’s life, teaching, death and resurrection are all based on the reality that to God, every one of us matters.

I hope these mini-messages — two minutes (give or take) to check where the Cross is in your life — will encourage you and help you draw closer to the Lord, yourself. Feel free to send in comments and if you’d like to get these via email, you can subscribe (scroll ‘way down to the bottom of this page to do that).

If you click on the “Sermons” tab, you’ll find some of the messages I’ve preached over the past few years. Please visit the “Books, etc.” tab, for some of the writing I’ve done (and links to order it online).

Contact me through this blog if you’d like me to speak at your church or group.

Grace and peace to you,



NB: THE FIGHTING FORCES IN OUR LEGAL DEPARTMENT ADVISE that we need to point out that for the most part, Scripture cited in this blog is taken from the New King James Version, ©1982 Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.




Are we “woke”?

That’s a word that’s come into fairly common usage in the past year or so — since the election of Donald Trump — although I’m sure the word has been around longer than that. From its context and checking the Urban Dictionary, “woke” means to be aware of the social/political situation around us. The warning, “Get woke!” would be the equivalent of the Sixties’

Stop! Hey! What’s that sound? Everybody look what’s goin’ down!

— Buffalo Springfield “For What It’s Worth” (1966)

Or the Seventies, with that famous Worship band, the Bee Gees:

Get on up! Look around! Can’t you see the winds of change?

Get on up! Test the air! Can’t you feel the winds of change?

— “Winds of Change” (1975)

And for Jesus, the equivalent of “Get woke!” was about 2000 years ago:

“Whenever you see a cloud rising out of the west, immediately you say, ‘A shower is coming’; and so it is. And when you see the south wind blow, you say, ‘There will be hot weather’; and so it is. 

“Hypocrites! You can discern the face of the sky and of the earth, but how is it you do not discern this time?”

— Luke 12:54-56

And Jesus spells out the signs of the times:

Now as He sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?”
And Jesus answered and said to them: “Take heed that no one deceives you.
“For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many.

“And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences and earthquakes in various places.


“All these are the beginning of sorrows. Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake. And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another. Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many.


“And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold.”

— Matthew 24:3-12

The overall “get woke!” message from that is that we’re seeing the things Jesus foretold and that the next thing we can expect and need to prepare for is His return and the eternal Judgment that will follow. But while it’s fairly easy to point out the famines (effects of climate change), incurable diseases (pestilence), earthquakes, wars and terrorism (rumors of war) that we’re seeing now, a couple of other points are worth noting.

“Take heed that no one deceives you.” Beware of people who create a “straw man” argument — something they’ve constructed themselves so they can break it down and prove a point. In this case, beware of people who attribute things falsely to God or the Bible, either through ignorance or design. In checking into Stephen Hawking’s statements about God and religion, I read a paper he gave on “The Beginning of Time”, in which he said, “There is no dynamical reason why the motion of bodies in the solar system can not be extrapolated back in time, far beyond four thousand and four BC, the date for the creation of the universe, according to the book of Genesis.”

Um, no, Professor … the book of Genesis does not state that the universe was created in 4004 BC. Genesis doesn’t give any date at all for its creation; the 4004 BC theory is one of many put forward by scholars, calculated according to (among other factors) the ages of the people recorded in the book.

Personally, I don’t buy the 4004 BC theory, and I would say it’s either ignorant or disingenuous to say that it says so in the Bible and then use that to put down Bible believers.

Of course, anyone in Prof. Hawking’s audience who was keen to not believe in God would have lapped that up without question.

And then there’s this one: lawlessness will abound. “Lawlessness” doesn’t solely mean rampant, unbridled sin or Dodge City-style “six chambers of justice*”. It can simply mean living apart from the will and counsel of God, with right and wrong being subjective, based on “what works for me”. That “lawlessness” leads to a general testiness about people who are different from and/or are critical of someone’s choices. That leads to the accusation that “you hate me” and then the declaration that this is a “right” — and “the love of many [grows] cold”.

Are we seeing all this today, or what? And what are we supposed to do about it?

Get ready.

Power forward.

Don’t worry about those signs: just take note, and proclaim the Gospel to as many people as you can. You can’t bully them into believing, but you can give them three important bits of information:

  1. These things were predicted nearly 2,000 years ago
  2. They have not “always been the case”, as some might say: they have accelerated in recent years.
  3. The Book where these predictions are found has also been a key part of your life

And then tell the story.

More about that, tomorrow.

*”Six Chambers of Justice” – sounds like a great title for a Western novel. I call dibs.

Hawking and the Great Confession

The passing of Stephen Hawking this week means that, in the past month, the world has lost two of the most stringent proponents of two diametrically opposed worldviews: Billy Graham, the man who spent his life convincing people God is necessary, and Hawking, who spent his life convincing people that He isn’t.

Mankind, Prof. Hawking contended, could find the answers to life, the universe and everything, and his explanations cut God out of the picture entirely. Anything that couldn’t be explained (like the Big Bang) was put down to chance.

One might say that now, Prof. Hawking really does know all the answers.

This past Sunday, before Prof. Hawking died, we were talking about how to answer people who doubt God: someone said, “There are no atheists in trenches” and another muttered, “Or in hell”.

“Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father’s will. But the very hairs of your head are numbered. Do not fear therefore: you are of more value than many sparrows.

“Therefore, whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven. But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven.”

— Matthew 10:28-33

That’s a scary thought. I’m not anyone’s judge, and I desperately, wholeheartedly, want to believe that one has up to one’s dying breath to say, “Thank you, Jesus”, and be welcomed into His loving arms as we cross the bar. That gives me comfort when I think of friends of mine who have passed on and not only didn’t confess Jesus but refused to “endorse a Creator”. Maybe they took that last-gasp opportunity; but Scripture seems pretty clear: it takes more than that.

One recurring theme I heard from people discussing Hawking’s life — even while he was alive — was the astonishment that he lived for half a century longer than doctors predicted when he was diagnosed with a form of ALS. The one thing I didn’t hear was any acknowledgement of Who kept him alive, defying the very science that people worshipped. It’s like he had nearly fifty years to give God the glory for keeping him alive and giving him the gift of insight into the universe. And yet he repeatedly said, “There is no God.”

If you want to see a movie, by the way, that has a great balance of the scientific and the faith-filled way of life, watch “Hidden Figures”. These three brilliant women are gifted engineers and mathematicians in the US space program, and when one of them gets a promotion she has been eager to get, can’t stop exclaiming, “Thank you, Jesus!” Not “I am so brilliant!”, but “Thank you, Jesus!”

Which is more broad-minded? To believe in God — a Creator of everything who also loves each and every one of us — or to believe that Mankind — the great minds that brought us war, racism, hatred and oppression of others — is as good as it gets?

Me, I’d rather spend my life believing in God and find out at the end that I was wrong, than spend my life denying Him — and find out at the end that I was wrong.

He’s our Friend – are we His?

I watch a lot of old silent movies, and recently saw “Wings” for the first time. Like many others — like “The Big Parade” and “All Quiet on the Western Front” — it’s set in the First World War.

Right now, I have a scenario in mind:

It’s WWI, and the Allies are making The Big Push, swarming into No-Man’s-Land to overrun the enemy positions. This particular unit advances into the teeth of the artillery-fire. Suddenly — bizarrely — the commanding officer steps to the head of the unit and shouts, “Get behind me! You’ll be safe! Get behind me!” 

The unit advances, gaining ground; but suddenly, one of the soldiers breaks out of the line. “‘Get behind me,’ I said!” shouts the CO. Others shout the same thing. But the breakaway soldier shrugs and says, “I think this way’s better!”

Suddenly, BRAM! the CO takes a direct hit from a volley of gunfire and is killed. Everyone who was behind him, though, survives. The soldier who broke away wanders into No-Man’s-Land, gets stuck in barbed wire that he didn’t see and is killed.

The other day, talking about being a friend of God — and vice versa — I got hung up on a line of Jesus’: “Greater love has no one than this: than to lay down one’s life for his friends. You are My friends, if you do whatever I command you.” (John 15:13-14)

Did Jesus only lay down His life for His friends? Didn’t He lay down His life for everyone?

The answer may seem circuitous, but here goes. When we do Jesus’ commandments, we become His friends. It’s a choice we make, and God gives us free choice to follow Him — or not. If we are like that soldier who tries to go his own way, we get caught in traps we had no idea were there and are totally at the mercy of the enemy.

But staying with Jesus, marching in close formation behind Him by following His commandments, He takes the bullets for us, and we are protected as we do His work. His commandments are not onerous: love God with all we have; love our neighbors as we, ourselves, are loved by God; follow James’ prescription for “true and undefiled religion”:

Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.

— James 1:27

So while Jesus laid down His life for all of us, if one refuses to accept that, it doesn’t appear he or she is much of a friend, does it?

Hey: who’s your friend there?

Things That Make You Say “Selah” Dep’t. (“Selah”, as I’m sure you know, means “pause and reflect”. You see it often in the Psalms. Think of it as the psalmist’s mike-drop.)

The other day, we sang a song in church that goes, “I am a friend of God, He calls me ‘friend'”.

Have you ever paused to consider that statement? I mean, it sounds a bit presumptuous, at first. “You’re a friend of God? Well, lah-di-frickin’-dah!”

It could be heretical. Abraham was a “friend of God” — are you saying you’re as special as Abraham? (Answer: “Are you saying Abraham’s as special as me?” At which point, the gloves come off. Maybe not such a good answer.)

Or, it sounds silly and even childish, thinking about the time a fellow I used to work with referred to believers as talking to their “eye-in-the-sky invisible friend”.

But consider:

“Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends. You are My friends if you do whatever I command you. 

“No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you.”

— John 15:13-15

If we do as Jesus commands us — to love one another, love God above all and spread the good news of the Kingdom — we are His friends. What’s more, He has told us, through His words on earth and through the Word of God in the Bible, what He is up to, so that, while we are expected to serve Him as we serve one another, unlike servants, we are not kept in the dark by a Master. We have a Friend who is open and forthright with us in all things.

But there’s more.

“And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper [Comforter], that He may abide with you forever — the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him;l but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you … 

“The Helper [Comforter], the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.”

— John 14:16-17, 26

The Greek word that is used here is parakletos, which means someone who is called to a person’s side. Definitions include “intercessor”, “consoler” and “advocate”, and those have been woven into the various English versions of the Bible.  The King James Version calls Him the “comforter”; the New King James says “helper”, the New International Version uses “advocate”, and The Message says, quite plainly, “friend”.

All are correct, although I do like the KJV’s “Comforter”, as it connotes a not just one who consoles, but keeps warm, and wraps around us like a quilt — or comforter. At the beginning of John 20, Jesus tells Mary Magdalene not to cling to Him, because He had not yet ascended to His Father: the Comforter He would send in His place would cling to her — not the other way around.

But I digress. The whole idea of parakletos is someone who walks beside you, not simply a companion on a journey, but a companion who is ready to defend you, advocate for you and, at the end of the day, console you. That’s a definition of a real friend — and this particular Friend happens to be the third part of God — the Holy Spirit.

And here’s where we say selah.

If we receive Christ and ask God to send us the Holy Spirit — and Jesus says all we have to do is ask, and He will (Luke 11:13) — then we can say, boldly and without equivocation, that God is our Friend, and we are His.

And if the atheists, agnostics and assorted smart-alecks want to sneer and snicker at that, that’s their problem. When you get right down to it, our Friend is only “invisible” to them.

And quite frankly, this “invisible Friend” has never let me down. I wish I could say the same for the friends I can see — forget that: I wish my friends, who have seen me, could say the same about me.

Philanthropy: giving back? Or giving of?

Recently, I read about a wealthy couple and the donations they give to various charities and other causes. Tallying it all up, it amounts to tens of millions of dollars over the past ten years or so. It’s admirable, and it says “in your face” to the people who decry the “one percent of the population” that allegedly control the world’s wealth.

Some things come to mind. First, there’s this:

“Take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds before men, to be seen by them. Otherwise you have no reward from your Father in heaven. Therefore, when you do a charitable deed, do not sound a trumpet before you as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have fory from men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward.

“But when you do a charitable deed, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, that your charitable deed may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will Himself reward you openly.”

— Matthew 6:1-4

Now, I don’t know whether the information about this couple’s giving came in a news release (i.e. was publicized by them or their company) or was drawn out by a reporter’s question: the fact is, the benefits people have derived from their generosity are immeasurable.

But consider this:

And [Jesus] looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the treasury, and He saw also a certain poor widow putting in two mites. So He said, “Truly I say to you that this poor widow has put in more than all; for all these out of their abundance have put in offerings for God, but she out of her poverty put in all the livelihood that she had.”
— Luke 21:1-4
Jesus points out an important difference: giving what you can, versus giving what you can’t. He notes that the widow, who only put in a little bit, was giving more, proportionately, than the rich.
And here’s the rub: she could well have said, “Those rich folks are putting in enough money: I don’t need to.” But what the other people were doing was of no consequence to her: she was giving, even when she couldn’t afford to.
That’s one of the down-sides of a rich person blowing their horn in the marketplace: others are intimidated if they can’t match or even come close to that person’s giving, and they back off, feeling that their contribution is not enough — or not needed. And that means that the charity in question suffers if the richer folk suddenly decide to stop giving.
And that can happen. Let the business hit a rough patch, and quite often, the first thing to be cut back is philanthropy. As an illustration, when the world economy took a nose-dive some years ago — thanks in large part to the situation with sub-prime mortgages — one major Canadian charitable foundation sensed that some of the other foundations would start pulling in their horns. So this foundation set up a special fund and sent one-time grants to certain charities. The special fund served a dual purpose: help the charities get through that time, and encourage other foundations to step up their giving.
We all have something to give, and what matters is not how many millions of dollars or even whether you’re giving money. What matters is your heart: are you giving in order to help others? Are you giving because you feel you’re supposed to — “giving back”, as it were? Are you giving to be seen to be giving?
So don’t be intimidated when you hear about people donating vast sums of money to a cause. That’s between them and God — and so is your business. As Jesus implies with the widow and her two mites, there’s an element of sacrifice, of giving of yourself, that creates a sweet aroma to God.

Broadminded in Christ

If you’re a professing Christian, you’ve probably been told you’re “narrow-minded” or “closed-minded”. In fact, I remember one friend of mine looking at me aghast when I told her I had come to Jesus, and saying, “But you’re such an intelligent person!”

I took that as both a compliment and a challenge.

So let’s draw up a little checklist:

Is it closed-minded to admit that we are not the highest form of intelligence in the universe?

Is it closed-minded to consider that there is a God who created all things that we can and cannot see, and yet who loves us individually, going to great extremes to draw us into a relationship with Him?

Sure … there are some things in heaven and earth that we need to close our minds to — animism, idols, any of the countless counterfeits of the things the Holy Spirit does — but that’s the same as shutting the window when a storm comes up or locking the door to keep out unwanted intruders. That’s not narrow-mindedness, but wisdom.

Is it intelligent to deny God, in the face of all the evidence and our inability to replicate the things we see around us? After all, as another friend of mine pointed out recently, no matter what you make, how clever, innovative and awe-inspiring it is, when you peel the onion back to its essence — “reverse-engineer” it, in fact — you always come back to things that were created. Whether it’s a coffee-table or a rocket ship, a high-rise building or an environment for living on Mars, the basic elements were already there, waiting to be put to use.

Consider this: have you ever tried to think of something that isn’t a variation on something that’s already there? Have you opened your mouth and spoken a word, turning thought into matter?

God can.

And dig this: God knows we tend to deny things in the face of the evidence.

And He said, “Go, and tell this people:

‘Keep on hearing, but do not understand;
Keep on seeing, but do not perceive.’

“Make the heart of this people dull,

And their ears heavy,
And shut their eyes;
Lest they see with their eyes,
And hear with their ears,
And understand with their heart,
And return and be healed.”
— Isaiah 6:9-10

“Therefore I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand.”

— Matthew 13:13


God rejoices in our intelligence and, I’m sure, weeps at our blindness: He is not some nebulous, unseen Force, or an Intelligent Designer, who created things and set processes in motion and left us hanging here. He also hangs about to watch, enjoy and love what He has made, and the humans, the ones He created in His own image — in the image of Love — He wants to have an intimate, one-on-one relationship with.

But because some people can’t imagine it because it doesn’t seem rational or logical to our limited perspective, they go to great lengths to refuse to believe it — even to the point of making up something even less rational, like the notion that “man is the measure of all things”.

Let’s give the last word to Joyce Kilmer:

I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.
A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the earth’s sweet flowing breast;
A tree that looks at God all day,
And lifts her leafy arms to pray;
A tree that may in Summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair;
Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
Who intimately lives with rain.
Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree.
— “Trees” by Joyce Kilmer (1886-1918)

The climate of climate change discussion

Picking up on yesterday’s point, here’s another observation:

Have you ever wondered why “climate change” seems to be the main topic of discussion, when there are so many other environmental concerns?

Let me put this point up-front: it’s a sign that the whole environmental issue right now is not being controlled by God. And if something isn’t in God’s hands, then who’s running the show?

Pollution is something we can see, feel and, occasionally, taste. We know when water has gone bad, air stinks, or the land isn’t producing. It’s pretty obvious. Sometimes, the question of how it got that way is open for debate, but a bit of detective work can solve that.

Climate change, on the other hand, is considered debatable. Many people agree that “the science is settled”, but others say, “no, it ain’t”, and still others wonder which question has been “settled”: the fact of climate change, the role humans play in it, or the ability of humans to resolve it.

That leads to the biggest sign that Satan is pulling the strings here. The discussion has long-since strayed away from any fact-based, evidence-driven conversation, and fallen into a morass of name-calling and finger-pointing. What I feel are legitimate questions about the science involved, if they amount to questioning conventional thinking bring some vicious personal attacks.

And on the other hand, people sounding the warnings about climate change, from David Suzuki to Al Gore and Elizabeth May, are themselves in the cross-hairs of their opponents, picking apart character flaws and signs of hypocrisy.

It starts to look like a battle of religious cults, and we lose sight of what’s really going on — and that’s the way Satan likes it. The enemy doesn’t give a rip about God’s creation: his main concern is to keep us at one another’s throats, ignoring or wilfully dismissing the signs that this is all the prelude to Jesus’ return. Satan’s main objective is to bring down as many people as he can; and what better way to do that, than by stirring up enmity amongst us?

A wrathful man stirs up strife,

But he who is slow to anger allays contention.

— Proverbs 15:18

… if you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your hearts, do not boast and lie against the truth.

— James 3:14

The wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God.

— James 1:20

Not only is there strife, but confusion dominates the discussion. Because the scientific evidence involves many centuries of data — some of it, surmised through extrapolation and educated conjecture — one of the questions is, Which set of data is considered definitive?

For God is not the author of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints.

— 1 Corinthians 14:33

We find ourselves asking, “What is truth?”, and as I’ve mentioned before, when Pilate asked that, he was looking Truth right in the face.


Here is some truth for you: pleasing Mother Earth (that quixotic mythical figure) won’t bring us closer to God; it is written that drawing closer to God will help restore His creation.

Worth a try, don’t you think?

Yet another blatant book plug, for A Very Convenient Truth – or, Jesus Warned Us There’s Be Days Like These, So Stop Worrying About The Planet And Get With His Program. It’s an e-book, available through Smashwords.

Blocking the signs?

In my country — Canada — we are watching a nasty little dispute unfold between two provinces. A pipeline is to be built from Alberta, through British Columbia, to the Pacific Ocean, to carry diluted bitumen from the oilsands to port and thence to markets overseas.

Alberta wants the pipeline built. BC doesn’t. The Canadian government, which has final say over the matter, has decided in favor of the pipeline.

Opponents of the pipeline say it will add to climate change, both through the production in the oilsands area and by continuing to supply fossil fuels for people to burn around the world — adding to the factors associated with climate change.

And that brings us to today’s subject. “Fighting climate change” has been an overriding concern for the past two decades. It’s certainly been the subject of endless debates, some of them quite vicious, be it about whether there’s a problem or the extent to which humans are responsible for it.

But let’s consider this:

So [the disciples] asked Him, saying, “Teacher, but when will these things [the destruction and rebuilding of the Temple] be? And what sign will there be when these things are about to take place?”

And He said, “Take heed that you not be deceived. For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am He,’ and ‘The time has drawn near.’ Therefore do not go after them. But when you hear of wars and commotions, do not be terrified; for these things must come to pass first, but the end will not come immediately.”

Then He said to them, “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be great earthquakes in various places, and famines and pestilences; and there will be fearful sights and great signs from heaven ….

— Luke 21:7-11

Does that sound familiar? Does that not sound like things we are seeing today?

The Book of Revelation gets even more specific, telling of oceans turning to blood (Rev. 8:8 & 16:3), mass extinctions of animals, and “islands fleeing” (Rev. 16:20) — like the reports of some islands starting to disappear in the rising sea levels.

Revelation 16 also refers to people blaspheming God in the face of disasters and plagues.

Jesus also throws in this:

“But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its destruction is near …

— Luke 21:20

And for all this, Jesus tells us it’s time to look not at the earth but at the heavens:

“Then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near.”

— Luke 21:27-28

And remember: these predictions were all spoken two thousand years ago. We’ve been told this was going to happen — not so that we would “fight” it, but so that we would be prepared for Jesus’ return.

The idea of “fighting” climate change seems to me to be an attempt to head off Jesus’ return by blocking the signs — like putting your fingers in your ears and singing loudly in order to avoid hearing the truth.

I can’t stress this enough: the signs we’re seeing — the troubles around us, whether associated with climate change or no — should be a wakeup call. There’s no question that we have to change the way we treat God’s creation, but we can’t obsess on it, the way the world has been obsessing on it. I have never heard anyone definitively say that any human action will actually halt or reverse environmental destruction. Our job as individuals is to continue to put serving the Lord first, and trust Him to fulfill His promise to “heal the land” (2 Chronicles 7:13-14).

If the ax is dull,
And one does not sharpen the edge,
Then he must use more strength;
But wisdom brings success.

— Ecclesiastes 10:10

We’re banging away at this tree called “climate change”, but it seems like we’re using a dull axe. If we ask for wisdom, maybe we would see the battle that we should be fighting and then we would get that sharper edge.


For some reason, I’m drawn back into the discussion of the Word of God and environmental trauma. My book, A Very Convenient Truth — or, Jesus Warned Us There’d Be Days Like These …, is still on sale through Smashwords at the amazingly low price of US$3.99. 

Pick up the phone, already!

Well, back in eighteen seventy-six a good ole boy named Bell

Invented a contraption that we know so well …

— “Why Haven’t I Heard From You?” sung by Reba McEntire

I found out over the weekend that my first mother-in-law had died.

We had remained close after the divorce — something I understand is unusual — and she supported my children both physically and through prayer, through some very tough times. The tough times were brought about by the self-centered, entitled Baby Boomers who engendered them and who lived in that combination of compensatory guilt and that generation’s mantra, “the kids will be alright: they’re more resilient than you think”. (SPOILER ALERT: they’re not.)

We didn’t see much of each other over the past few years — we lived only 25 miles apart, and on the same island, but due to a number of reasons, including procrastination, I kept putting off calling her or dropping in. (She was one of the few people these days who welcomed drop-ins: the door would open and before you knew it, the coffee would be on and a plate of cookies on the table.)

The week before last at The Gathering, Pastor Randy asked rhetorically who we would miss if they went away forever. It was a prelude to his message about Jesus, breaking it to His apostles what was about to happen to Him. I made a note in my journal to call her.

This time, I’m glad I didn’t, because it would have been, well, awkward: by then, it was too late.

One day! One day, who knows?

Someday … someday I suppose …

— “Someday I Suppose” by The Mighty Mighty Bosstones

Is there someone you’ve been meaning to call? Someone who needs encouragement? Could whatever you have to do, whatever issues you’re going through, possibly be bigger than what someone else is going through? I think you’d be surprised.

Worth noting: “procrastinate” comes from three Latin words: “pro” (meaning “in favor”), “cras” (tomorrow) and “tinere” (to hold) — literally, “I hold in favor of tomorrow”.

“I must work the works of Him who sent Me while it is day; the night is coming when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”
— John 9:4-5
Now, if you’ll excuse me … I have an aunt who’s pushing 100 and I’ve been “meaning to call her” for the past year.

Simple — but not easy

Took a trip on a bus that I didn’t know
Met a girl sellin’ drinks at the disco
Said “truth comes back when you let it go”
Seems complicated ’cause it’s really so simple

— “Crabbuckit” by Kevin Deron Brereton (a/k/a K-Os)

A lawyer thought he could trip Jesus up by asking Him, “Which is the great commandment in the law?” (Matthew 22:36) The Pharisees were trying to get Jesus to declare that there was one commandment greater than the others, which would imply that some things God had forbidden were more permissible than others. But Jesus — wise as a serpent, as He calls us to be — trumps their game.

Jesus said to him, ‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. 
“And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’

“On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”

— Matthew 22:37-40

All the commandments involve actions that could harm others, even if you don’t see it at the time: so if you love your neighbor, you don’t do those things. And if you love God with everything you have, you don’t disobey Him.

(That does lead to an interesting discussion, when someone says, “Well, if I love the person, I don’t have to worry about what the commandments say.” The problem with that is, our concept of “love” is often subjective, based on what we think love is. Therefore, the commandments govern specific actions; the “love commandment” governs our hearts to make sure we’re not doing things out of a sense of duty, or even grudgingly.)

So it comes down to something simple: love God and put everyone else’s interests ahead of your own.


But not easy.

After all, loving someone else involves “sucking it up”, even when they do something you don’t like — even hurt you deeply. It involves assuming that they really had the best intentions or couldn’t see the impact they were having on others. It involves not judging them.

In the same way, loving God with everything you have involves praising Him and seeking Him even in times of disaster, when the world seems to be crashing down around you and when you hear of atrocities committed all around the world — when that wise-guy mistheist comes up to you and says, “So! Where’s your God NOW?” (Response: “Right where He’s always been — waiting for us to call Him in.”)

The “easy” thing is to turn away from God, look out for yourself, and do what “seems like a good idea at the time”. Tell yourself that other people should be looking out for themselves, too, and if they don’t, well, “survival of the fittest,” and all that.

But look where it gets you.

When I was attending a class in London, England, many years ago, I thought I’d take a short-cut from the school back to my hotel. Just turn down here, I figured, and I could connect with the cross-street leading to the hotel. Except London isn’t built on the grid system this North American kid was used to, and I wound up getting hopelessly lost. I had to stop in a pub to get directions (and at least one pint by then) and even so, the hotel found me before I found the hotel.

The “simple” thing would have been to keep going down Cromwell Road, turn right on Gloucester Road and into Stanhope Gardens. The “easy” thing looked like that fateful turn.

The other thing that hangs us up in our walk with God is that we humans tend to complicate things. We often want to make something harder than it really is, to give ourselves a sense of accomplishment. The idea of relying on God is described as a fatal flaw, a weakness, a crutch. That’s exactly what it is, and in our pride, we refuse to admit it, and want to be seen to have conquered our difficulties in our own strength. In our impatience, we accept a partial solution in our own time, rather than a complete solution in God’s time. In our desire to continue in the ways we think are right because they’re pleasant to our senses, we try to overlook God and those sticky commandments and wind up facing all sorts of unintended consequences, ranging from an incurable disease to a punch in the nose.

The funny thing is, though, following the Love Commandment only looks hard. Once you take a step and start blessing those who curse you, praying for those who use you spitefully, loving your enemies, giving them your cloak and your coat, walking that extra mile, and so forth, it’s amazing how easy it becomes.

It’s almost like you have Someone else helping you.

Oh … wait.