Friday, December 24, 2010

It is the Night - from a dear FB friend ...

It is the Night

by Amy Shinn Sayers on Friday, December 24, 2010 at 1:08pm

I wrote this last year in the wee hours of the morning on Christmas-thought I'd share it again with you this year.

Much Love~

It is the night
It is this night

For many years I have tried to picture the setting
in my mind's eye
And while I have many times been moved by its awesomeness
It is this Eve of Christmas
that God would have me feel the tremendous weight of it all

I see the reality of a manger for a crib
I hear the night sounds of an ancient Bethlehem
I smell the stable sweetness-despite its common use

In these wee hours of morning
I have found that if I allow the intimate details
of this birth story to unfold within me
Then I can also taste the body that was broken~
the blood that was poured out-
for me.

And I am humbled

Who am I to want for so much~
when the One who created me
saw it fitting to allow His Son
to find comfort in a manger?

I begin to feel lowly and unworthy
when I compare my earthly desires
to this moment
And yet God's Spirit touches me
And this is what He would have me know~

It is the night
It is this night
that I offer to you, Amy
The Child I sent~ was for you

And suddenly I am aware
That on this night~
I received the greatest gift of all.

Final Advent Thoughts

As we bring the Season of Advent to a close with the lighting of the Christ Candle tonight, we end a chapter in the story of our Faith, and open anew, the ageless story of God with us, in every respect. Small towns and big cities, rich and poor, foreigner and citizen - for God so loved the world.

May the brightness of the star illumine our darkness ...

May the tenacity of the wise men, who dared to follow a star, encourage us in our journey ...

May the joy of the shepherds impel us to make our own trek to Bethlehem to see what the angels have told us ...

May Herod's anger be a sobering reminder that powerful interests have their own agenda ...

May the flight of the Holy Family to Egypt give us hope in tough times ... and ...

May the promise of Scripture - that all of these many and varied pieces were part of a Master Plan, the fulfilling of Scripture - give us peace and determination to keep up the good work of loving and serving Christ - because God's hand is yet upon the flow of history, to keep God's purpose and God's love alive, and to maintain our life together on this planet, a planet that God so dearly loves

Friday, December 10, 2010

A Christmas Story - A Baby's Hug

From a friend ...

~ A Baby's Hug ~

We were the only family with children in the restaurant.
I sat Erik in a high chair and noticed everyone was quietly sitting and talking.

Suddenly, Erik squealed with glee and said, 'Hi.' He pounded his fat baby hands on the high chair tray. His eyes were crinkled in laughter and his mouth was bared in a toothless grin, as he wriggled and giggled with merriment.

I looked around and saw the source of his merriment. It was a man whose pants were baggy with a zipper at half-mast and his toes poked out of would-be shoes. His shirt was dirty and his hair was uncombed and unwashed. His whiskers were too short to be called a beard and his nose was so varicose it looked like a road map.

We were too far from him to smell, but I was sure he smelled. His hands waved and flapped on loose wrists. 'Hi there, baby; hi there, big boy. I see ya, buster,' the man said to Erik.

My husband and I exchanged looks, 'What do we do?'

Erik continued to laugh and answer, 'Hi.' Everyone in the restaurant noticed and looked at us and then at the man.

The old geezer was creating a nuisance with my beautiful baby. Our meal came and the man began shouting from across the room, 'Do ya patty cake? Do you know peek-a-boo? Hey, look, he knows peek- a-boo.' Nobody thought the old man was cute. He was obviously drunk. My husband and I were embarrassed. We ate in silence; all except for Erik, who was running through his repertoire for the admiring skid-row bum, who in turn, reciprocated with his cute comments.

We finally got through the meal and headed for the door. My husband went to pay the check and told me to meet him in the parking lot. The old man sat poised between me and the door. 'Lord, just let me out of here before he speaks to me or Erik,' I prayed. As I drew closer to the man, I turned my back trying to sidestep him and avoid any air he might be breathing. As I did, Erik leaned over my arm, reaching with both arms in a baby's 'pick-me-up' position. Before I could stop him, Erik had propelled himself from my arms to the man. Suddenly a very old smelly man and a very young baby consummated their love and kinship.

Erik in an act of total trust, love, and submission laid his tiny head upon the man's ragged shoulder. The man's eyes closed, and I saw tears hover beneath his lashes. His aged hands full of grime, pain, and hard labor, cradled my baby's bottom and stroked his back. No two beings have ever loved so deeply for so short a time.

I stood awestruck. The old man rocked and cradled Erik in his arms and his eyes opened and set squarely on mine. He said in a firm commanding voice, 'You take care of this baby.' Somehow I managed, 'I will,' from a throat that contained a stone. He pried Erik from his chest, lovingly and longingly, as though he were in pain.

I received my baby, and the man said, 'God bless you, ma'am, you've given me my Christmas gift.' I said nothing more than a muttered thanks.

With Erik in my arms, I ran for the car. My husband was wondering why I was crying and holding Erik so tightly, and why I was saying, 'My God, my God, forgive me.'

I had just witnessed Christ's love shown through the innocence of a tiny child who saw no sin, who made no judgment; a child who saw a soul, and a mother who saw a suit of clothes. I was a Christian who was blind, holding a child who was not. I felt it was God asking, 'Are you willing to share your son for a moment? when He shared His for all eternity. The ragged old man, unwittingly, had reminded me, 'To enter the Kingdom of God , we must become as little children.'

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Today Will Be a Good Day

Today will be a good day ... maybe hard, maybe sad, but every day occurs under heaven's watchful eye ... 
Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

Monday, November 1, 2010

The Presbyterian Layman ...

From my Presbyterian Outlook blog, posted 11.1.10 ...

I'm in a good mood this morning, so I decided to pick up, with trembling hand, of course, the latest screed on the decline of all things PCUSA (The Layman) ... and, of course, the rising stars of the PCA and EPC, and all such related groups. 
Well, I'm still in good mood, doubly glad that I'm not in their camp. It has to be mighty difficult for them, living in a world threatened with PCUSA evils ... sort of like living in the Poltergeist 1 home.
What I don't understand is the lack of joy in The Layman ... just so much anger, bitterness ... and the constant drumbeat of PCUSA's sins ... and a bizarre gleefulness over every perceived "failure" or "fault" in the PCUSA. 
As I read the letters to the editors, I was impressed with the depths of hatred therein. I get the feeling that The Layman and the FOX Network are strolling along, hand-in-hand.
Whatever else this is, it's not healthy.
Of course, it's all defended in the name of Jesus, whom they're defending, or so they think, as if Jesus even needed our help. The Layman clearly illustrates the adage, "With friends like this, who needs enemies?"
There are times I wonder if it's worthwhile to say anything. But as long as The Layman continues to shout is blasphemies, I'll shout out the grace of God in Christ. As long as The Layman continues to claim to have the upper hand on God's truth, I'll protest. As long as the Layman claims to have the moral high ground on life, I'll point out how immoral their mindset it. 
Anyway, I'm delighted to be where I am, and who I am, and I thank God for the grace to be here. 

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

What's a Good Day Like?

What constitutes a good day?
May your coffee taste good.
May a friend surprise you with a gift.
May your health be sound, and if it isn’t, may your spirit be confident.
And if your spirit suffers today, the clouds will pass.
And God is there, in all of it, with grace, mercy and peace.
I am with you always, says Christ.
And he means it.
Have a good day!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Help my Peace Corps son fly to his sister's wedding

The Power of ...

Today, when faced with possibilities, or challenges, think of the power of the word Yes!

Yes, I can do it.
Yes, I have what it takes.
Yes, I am a person of worth.
Yes, I will think my way through the problem.
Yes, I can overcome the difficulties and find solutions.

And for others:
Yes, I believe YOU can do it.
Yes, go ahead.
Yes, why not?
Yes, of course.
Yes, yes, yes.

Who knows what opportunities are waiting for you to say Yes.
And think of all the people on the edge of something good, and all they need to hear is YOU say Yes to them.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Patience and Dreams

Ever feel like giving up?

Sure, we've all been there, and sometimes it right to give up and change course, but I suspect a lot of good things have been lost by quitting too early.

If there's ever a lesson about hanging in their and following the dream, it's this fine little story from the September 14, 2010, LA Times - "There Reward Is a Long-Time Coming" ... about long-term minor league ball plays who are finally called up to the majors. Click HERE to read.

Reminds me of something Jesus said: Whoever is faithful in a very little is faithful also in much; and whoever is dishonest ina very little is dishonest also in much" [Luke 16:10].

So hang in there friend ... keep the dream alive ... you may have to slug it out for years in the minors. But who knows when the time will come for you're call to the majors.


Merciful God, I pray thee to grant me, if it please thee, ardor to desire thee, diligence to seek thee, wisdom to know thee and skill to speak to the glory of thy name. Amen (Thomas Aquinas)

Monday, September 13, 2010

Remembering the Fallen Firefighters

From my very good friend and fine writer, Bob Orr - a tradition that began for him on 9/11:

Yesterday I got my bunch of sunflowers and prepared.  This morning (pre-dawn at 5 am)  I drove to our Canton Fire Station No. 1 and placed the bouquet outside their front door with a simple card "Remembering the Fallen Firefighters of 9-11 - Thank You".  I've done this for nine years now.  The memories are vivid of that day for many.  One of the things I remember is other fire departments (some many states away) sending firefighters to New York city to assist.  I remember my Dad and his career of forty plus years of service as a firefighter in my hometown in northern Indiana.  It's hard to imagine someone trained to race into a burning fire when our natural human instinct is to flee.  We can't thank them enough.
Peace and prayers, 

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Remembering 9/11

Nine years ago today, the Twin Trade Towers in Lower Manhattan fell to the ground, and with them, 3000 lives.

Today, we remember.

And we learn … as Lewis Carroll noted in Through the Looking Glass, “It’s a poor memory that only works backwards.

From Terry Jones, we learn the sad lessons of remembering backwards.

From Susan Retik, we learn the lessons of remembering forward.

“In the shattering aftermath of Sept. 11, 2001, Ms. Retik bonded with another woman, Patti Quigley, whose husband had also died in the attack. They lived near each other, and both were pregnant with babies who would never see their fathers.

Devastated themselves, they realized that there were more than half a million widows in Afghanistan — and then, with war, there would be even more. Ms. Retik and Ms. Quigley also saw that Afghan widows could be a stabilizing force in that country.

So at a time when the American government reacted to the horror of 9/11 mostly with missiles and bombs, detentions and waterboardings, Ms. Retik and Ms. Quigley turned to education and poverty-alleviation projects — in the very country that had incubated a plot that had pulverized their lives” [“The Healers of 9/11” - By NICHOLAS D. KRISTOF, Published: September 8, 2010, New York Times op-ed].

On ABC this weekend, a remarkable story of some 9/11 children, who were only infants when they lost their fathers, now left with only their father’s DNA and mementoes of a man they will never know.

Yes, they grieve, as only a child can, with a remarkable degree of depth and innocence.

Their grief is holy, and we must not sully it with the debris of only a backward memory.

With you today, I remember – but more than what was, we best remember what will be, with decisions made like that of Ms. Retik, and millions of others ,who choose their better angels and build a better world.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

California Statehood - by Garrison Keillor

From Garrison Keillor's "The Writer's Almanac" ... for Sept. 9, 2010

On this day 160 years ago, California became a state. It was the 31st state admitted to the Union, just after Wisconsin and right before Minnesota.

It was a state born of the Compromise of 1850, an elaborate bargain between the North and the South over slavery. Under the compromise the territories of New Mexico and Utah would decide for themselves whether slavery were allowed, and California would be admitted to the Union as a free state.

In the late 1700s, California was settled by Spanish priests, who built missions up along the coastline. Mexico went to war against Spain to fight for independence, won, and so in 1821 got their independence. California was a part of the Mexican empire.

A couple of decades later, the United States was on its roll toward the West. In 1845, the U.S. annexed Texas, and California the year after.

The U.S. Congress declared war on Mexico, and sent in the U.S. Army and Navy to northern Mexican territory to crush resistance. The Mexican-American war lasted about two years.

When the badly defeated Mexican military gave up, and it was time for them to sign a peace treaty, the American troops occupied Mexico City. The U.S. more or less dictated the terms of the treaty to Mexico — the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo — and Mexico ended up losing a full 55 percent of the territory it had before the war.
The Gold Rush began in 1848, the population skyrocketed, and California became a state on this day in 1850, as part of that Compromise of 1850. It's now the most populated state America. And California's Central Valley is one of the most productive farming areas in the world, growing fruits, vegetables, and grains, and keeping a lot of dairy and meat cows. It's where about one-third of America's food comes from.

Non-California writer Truman Capote said, "It's a scientific fact that if you stay in California you lose one point of your IQ ever year." Comedian Fred Allen said, "California is a fine place to live — if you happen to be an orange."
Novelist Alison Lurie said, "As one went to Europe to see the living past, so one must visit Southern California to observe the future." San Francisco poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti called Southern California the place "where the American Dream came too true."

Garrison Keillor

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Be of Good Cheer

Dear Friends,

Be of good cheer, because you belong to Jesus Christ … we all do … the whole of humanity, and all creatures great and small.

Today, you will face challenges – it’s the nature of life to challenge us, even frighten us, because life is so large and we all know how tiny we are. The best way of meeting such a challenge is to be honest about it – life is huge and we’re tiny. And all the bravado in the world, all of our huffing and puffing and chest-thumping doesn’t change it one lick.

Huffing and puffing, we get red in the face.
Chest-thumping, we hurt ourselves.

In reality, we can only be truthful, and that means God!

And what God has given to us in Jesus Christ …

A cross in which the worst is met … and the empty tomb, in which the worst is overcome.

In Christ, we have our daily hope, our daily bread … in Christ, however the worst may come our way, whatever its dimensions, it has already been met in the cross of Christ, and overcome in the empty tomb … the risen Christ takes us by the hand through all of it.

So, be of good cheer.

Face your life with the faith of Christ – that Christ is faithful to us, no matter what … in all of life, and in all of death … in the best of times and in the worst of times … in body and soul, here and now, then and there – all of it, the whole of it – nothing overlooked and nothing beyond the work of grace.

Face your life with honesty … for we are small.
Face your life with faith … for Christ is good.

Live your life with good works … for this is the way of Christ.
Live your life for others … for this is the love of Christ.


Friday, August 13, 2010

August 18, 2010 - Cream for Your Coffee

The courage to think outside the box!

Dr. Thomas C Peebles isolated the measles virus, and it was his discovery, early in his career that led to the vaccine now used so successfully.

Later in his career, Dr. Peebles wrote:

I am sure, as is often the case in scientific endeavor, that much of the successful recognition and isolation of this virus lay in perseverance, newness to the field, and failure to be bound by the preconceived ideas that caused others in the laboratory to miss this new effect.  ~ from the LA Times, August 13, 2010.

Thinking outside the box is a hallmark of the heroes of our faith and the God whom they serve.

Folks like Sarah and Abraham think and live outside the box ... and Moses and a Deborah ... the prophets who dreamed the dreams of a just and faithful world for everyone ... the Apostle Paul who thought and lived outside the box and built bridges where others dug chasms ... and down through the centuries, the women and men who dreamed big and thought far and wide.

Sometimes they were called heretics and trouble-makers. Sometimes they were imprisoned or burned at the stake, as they followed the biggest out-of-the-box thinker of them all - Jesus of Nazareth. I always envision the moment in heaven when God announced that God's Son would be born in our midst, like one of us, and born humbly, in a stable in a small town in Palestine. I can only imagine angels, with their jaws dropped, hands held tightly to the sides of their head (Do angels say, O my God?) - because it was such a daring move on God's part.

When Jesus walked this good earth to announce that the Kingdom of God was close at hand, close enough for us to grasp it and begin to live it, some folks though he was nuts, or even dangerous, and when he suggested that it was possible to love God without the temple in Jerusalem, the temple-folks got hot and bothered and collaborated with their enemies, the Roman overlords, to do Jesus in. Because he dared to think outside the box - just like God. But those who thought they knew so much God couldn't stand the real God at all.

Because love is infinite.

The temple-people said, "No, it's not that big!" And Jesus said, "Yes it is, and bigger still."

It takes courage to live and think outside the box, but thank God for those who do.

Chances to think outside the box come our way infrequently (thankfully), but when they do, and today may be day for you, at work, with a friend, a new idea, a challenging opportunity - who knows - to think and live outside the box.

Others may advise caution, but sometimes we have to throw caution to the wind. Others may shout "tradition," but we may have to say, "Shed the shackles of tradition!"

Jesus did ... and so did Dr. Peeples.

We worship a God who always surprises us with daring ideas, and to everyone reading this today, live your courage!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

August 4, 2010 - Cream for Your Coffee

I may not be totally perfect, but parts of me are excellent!

~ Ashleigh Brilliant

Our lack of "perfection," whatever that may be, keeps us humble with others, and keeps us learning and growing. The excellent parts bring us joy and help us make a lasting contribution to our world.

Enjoy the day, it's the day the Lord has made for you.
You will meet people who test your spirit.
You will meet people who surprise you with their love.

You will meet yourself, coming and going.
You will read something good.
You will eat something delicious.

You will hear a bird sing and be delighted.
You will see a face and see the face of God.
You will say something profound and wonderful.

Someone will thank you.
Someone will bless you.
Someone will give you a helping hand.

Such is life ...
To God be the glory ...
And to all, a good day!

Pastor Tom

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

A Little Statement of Faith

I believe in the goodness of life.
Because life is good.
I find good when I look for it.
I experience good when I want it.
My eyes are changed to see the good more clearly when I believe in God.
When I believe in God, it’s easier to believe in people.
Easier to believe in myself.
Easier to believe in the goodness of life and to live according to its goodness.
When I believe in God …
When I believe …

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Keeping an Open Mind ... by Thomas R. Dickens

Written by a friend and a member of Covenant Presbyterian Church.

"Keeping an Open Mind to things we don't really know - Concerning Creationism, Evolution and other theories..."

Dear All,

I have belonged to the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology for many years.

I can tell you a few facts as well as my own personal thoughts:

1. The Biblical book of Genesis does not negate Evolution - they go, for the most part, hand in hand, thus, there is no reason NOT to believe in Evolution - for Biblical reasons.

2. EVERY "Creationist" "fossil evidence" I have personally seen, or seen in photographs, is a complete, and shoddily done, fake. Dinosaur foot prints next to human, etc. The footprints are sculpted, and poorly at that, looking nothing like real fossil dinosaur footprints, but more like the feet of Barney the dinosaur. This is not only wrong, to dilute the true scientific discoveries with forgeries, but to do it in the name of trying to prove creationism to be true, in my opinion, is downright evil. No deception should be used to convince the validity of the Scriptures. There is not ONE reliable proof of creationism. The closest is a find of what are very loosely "human" shaped footprints next to therapod dinosaur footprints, but they are so deteriorated (and originally made in thick mud, they can not be defined with any authority what they are, though an explanation that they were made by a therapod with bitten off toes, hobbling on its ankles (rather than being made by humans), is plausible - after all this happens all the time with crocodiles).

3. A BIBLICAL word AGAINST creationism, and humans coexisting with prehistoric animals is that Noah didn't save ONE SPECIES of the millions of species of prehistoric life, now extinct? Why? Creationists have said they were too big to save.
a. that is no excuse.
b. not all dinosaurs, plesiosaurs, plyosaurs, pterosaurs, thecodonts, prehistoric amphibians, prehistoric crocodiles, prehistoric snakes, terror birds, ammonites, trilobites, club moss trees, horsetail trees, etc. were big. There were small species as well. Chicken sized dinosaurs, etc. Why didn't Noah save ONE SPECIES of ANY of these groups of life, now extinct? Because they never lived at the time of NOAH. They died out at least 65 Million years earlier.

4. Another proof that Creationism is bunk is to look at the sky. Unless the stars and galaxies in space are not real (but are instead: a deceptive HOLOGRAM spherical shell, surrounding the earth, merely MIMICKING the appearance of stars and galaxies) these space items are billions of years old and the light from them takes billions of years to get here. If God created the Earth 4-8 thousand years ago as Creationists say, HOW WOULD THE LIGHT FROM DISTANT GALAXIES BE ARRIVING TO US NOW FROM 15 BILLION LIGHT YEARS AWAY? I choose to believe that God would not "deceive" us with a hologram "shell" of pretend space objects, just to throw us off. I believe these space items to be real.

5. Evolution is not a perfect theory, and has some of its own "fakes", or wild speculations. One most notably:
The "Archaeoraptor" fake

In 1999, a supposed 'missing link' fossil of an apparently feathered dinosaur named "Archaeoraptor liaoningensis", found in Liaoning Province, northeastern China, turned out to be a forgery. Comparing the photograph of the specimen with another find, Chinese paleontologist Xu Xingcame to the conclusion that it was composed of two portions of different fossil animals. His claim made National Geographic review their research and they too came to the same conclusion.[7] The bottom portion of the "Archaeoraptor" composite came from a legitimate feathered dromaeosaurid now known as Microraptor, and the upper portion from a previously-known primitive bird called Yanornis.

But when this forgery was found the involved paleontologists careers were (rightly) destroyed, and it was published everywhere, the forgery. However, when the creationist fake fossils are discovered to be forgeries, there is no press on that, so the delusion is perpetuated in the knowledge "etho-sphere". Human, being susceptible to temptation for personal gain, can fraud their findings, however, in general most scientists know this will end in shame. They take an oath to find honest discoveries. Paleontology is the least funded science of all sciences, so there is certainly no financial gain for paleontologists to fake evidence. For the most part, the discoveries of scientists are gone over many many times by many many smart people. They are proven to be truthful by many eyes double checking them.

However, to be honest, carbon dating has some suppositions in its very method, as well as the geological table being used to empirically enforce "layers in time" is a bit fishy.

Additionally, quite a few "missing links" have, in fact been found, between species, which supports the theory of evolution. Yet there are also some huge gaps in "missing links", which are quite curious - or perhaps yet to be discovered? Such as, where did pterosaurs evolve from? So far the hard "missing link" is elusive to this immense group of animals.

Why do some species STOP evolving, such as Scorpions, and Sharks (are they "perfect"?).

Why was Archeopteryx found in strata millions of years BEFORE dromaeosaurids, when they are supposed to have evolved FROM dromaeosaurids (is a millions of years earlier dromaeosaurid yet to be found? - but then who did this "advanced" therapod evolve from so early?).

Why are the earliest life forms discovered, bacteria, etc. EXTREMELY complex? Why do the simplest of life forms, including single celled animals have THE SAME DNA structure as ALL other living things, yet with some genes "turned off" or "turned on". How and why did this intricacy "evolve" on such simple creatures who have none of the complexity of a human, or a caterpillar? According to evolution, we only evolve what we NEED to survive and NOTHING else. We would not evolve spikes on our backs because we don't need them to survive. But why would simple single celled animals evolve super-complex DNA structures capable of ONE DAY evolving into humans?

Yet, evidence of evolution, or something like it, for the most part, is evident everywhere. In the fossil record, in general, simpler creatures evolve into more advanced and specialized forms herrerosaurus to allosaurus, to tyrannosaurus. Also, we see evolution "in action" every day, with germs evolving new ways to attack and survive and persevere against our anti-bioitics.

Deep sea volcanoes also seem to be evidence of evolution as brand new species, existing no where else in the world seem to emanate FROM the volcanoes, which exist in extreme pressure, no sunlight, and extremely hazardous chemicals including sulfur. Additionally, life has been found in deep sea soil in the Greek Mediterranean Sea, where there is NO OXYGEN. NONE. These animals do not need oxygen to survive and thrive. Also life exists in extremely acidic water pools that are more acid than water, such as in death valley and Yosemite acid lakes.

6. There is another theory which is also possible, but is quite mind-bending. That early earth was visited over 4.5 billion years ago by "space - life - seeds" that ALL READY CONTAINED fully functional DNA structures inside, and the ability to survive IN SPACE, with NO OXYGEN, AND EXTREME TEMPERATURE AND RADIATION. These "seeds" (bacteria) were dropped here by extremely advanced beings, or by God, or other spiritual creatures (such as those mentioned in Revelations) and the planet was seeded, knowing ahead of time that those primitive life forms would one day evolve into humans, and perhaps beyond (there is obviously room for us to "grow"). This may seem like science fiction, but who knows.

7. Finally, there is the theory that the universe never began or ended. It is eternal. It is infinite. All if the known universe that we can see with Hubble is only a spec of what the real universe is: an infinite fractal cloud of material, rather than the outcome of a single explosive "big bang" singularity.

In conclusion: No human was alive when the Earth was created. Perhaps the Bible's "7 days" of creation were "GOD days", or perhaps, since humans were not around to "record time", that it truly WAS 7 days. A day is as a thousand years. Again, since no humans were here to keep time, anything before life originated on earth is very hard to gauge the exact length of time or who was to judge it, but based on scientific evidence and outer space distant objects, the "big bang theory" universe is certainly over 15 billion years old. Also, since no one was alive in the days of the dinosaurs knowing exactly what happened then is unknown.

I personally suspect that something LIKE evolution theory is correct, but there may be some huge surprises for us yet to discover. Much evidence points towards theistic evolution, rather than Creationism, for which there is no proof, and is not necessary in order to be a believer in the word of the Bible (at its worse the "theory of Creationism" is complete deception, using fraud to support it, rather than science and rationality).

I think it is best to simply keep an opened mind, not a hard decided closed mind, like that of many Creationists, bent on training our children to turn against Science when we need it most to get jobs these days in technical fields.

These discussions are fruitful, and very expanding. They are wonderful, because a brain which has taken billions of years to "evolve" is able to think them. And that we can think of and be aware of God and His importance.

Thomas R. Dickens

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Evolution and Intelligent Design

After more than century of vigorous debate, the theory of evolution has gained the upper hand in the scientific community and for millions of believers all around the world, for whom there is no conflict between faith in God and scientific findings about the evolution of the world and the evolution of species.

The reason I share this with you is simple: there are people of faith who have pushed forward some very bad science: Intelligent Design - in an effort to "prove" their creation ideas - mistakenly thinking that they're defending the truth and standing loyal to God. 


Lots of folks have thought they were defending the truth and standing loyal to God - just ask the folks who brought us the Inquisition.

I stand, and have always stood, with the scientific community on this one, without one moment of conflict between my faith in God and the findings of science.

I happen to believe in something called "theistic evolution" - sort of a fancy term to simply say: "Evolution is the observable processes of life in all forms and on all levels, and God is the energy, the love, the grace, behind it and through it all."

Theistic evolution reflects a beautiful verse from the Bible, Hebrews 11:3, "By faith, we understand that the universe was formed by God's command." By faith, it says, not by observable means. 

To read more, please click HERE ... a fine article by Michael Zimmerman, Butler University.

Blessings ...


God is found upon many, many, paths, God be praised, but not every path leads to God. Greed and cruelty lead only to dust.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Basic Decisions

Life is possible only because of basic decisions.

Like setting the alarm clock and getting up and going to work … or checking our email to stay in touch … washing our hands often … looking both ways before we cross the street … paying our bills … getting our car oiled and lubed … saying “please” and “thank you.”

Basic decisions keep life headed in the right direction and on track.

Basic decisions are hardly remarkable or exciting, but essential to our well-being.

The Christian Life consists of basic decisions – none of which are exciting or dramatic, but all of them are essential.

Basic decisions productively move the Christian Life along the track of time.

What are some of the basic decisions of the Christian Life?

The first is so simple and basic it hardly needs mention: like drinking water when you’re thirsty, or taking a shower after a day of gardening in the hot sun.

The First Basic Decision: worship in your community of faith. Worship is like the first step on a Saturday morning walk, or the first leg of a trip. Here is where the Christian Life begins – in community, singing God’s praises and hearing the Word of God read and proclaimed. Sitting next to friends and strangers, and drinking coffee afterward, handling a bulletin and saying corporate prayer. Pretty basic stuff!

The Second Basic Decision: read God’s Word regularly and pray often. Scripture and Prayer are the means by which God feeds the soul. And we all know how crummy we feel if we’re really hungry. There are lots of folks who feel spiritually crummy because their soul is hungry. Sadly, if the soul isn’t fed on God’s good stuff, we’re likely to eat junk food, and there’s plenty of that around. But junk food doesn’t satisfy; it only bloats. We need good food, and the best food for the soul: Bible reading and prayer, done regularly. If you need guidance, check with a pastor. And if your church offers Bible study or courses on prayer, sign up for them. Just do it!

The Third Basic Decision: read solid books written by solid Christian writers. If you have questions about this, check with your pastor.

The Fourth Basic Decision: have fellowship with other Christians. Hang around with people who are moving along the same way you are. Talk with them and pray with them., break bread with them and have some fun. Engage in projects with them. Go to a soup kitchen. Clean up the beach. Go on a hike. Visit a nursing home. Grow vegetables for a community food pantry.

The Fifth Basic Decision: know what’s going on in your world. Pay attention to your politicians and read the news (print edition in a good paper or on-line). But pay attention and ask yourself, “What does God’s Word have to say about this? What are other Christians saying about these things? Are my thoughts shaped by Christ?” This requires some real thinking and learning, but it’s vital to our Christian Life. We don’t live in a vacuum, and it’s God’s world after all.

Sixth Basic Decision: invite others to worship with you. Pick them up; have lunch afterward. Stay with it. Do it again. Help them grow. Who knows, you may be the one God uses to bring them into the love of Jesus Christ. This usually takes a lot of time. Months, even years. But persevere in your purpose. It’s your mission. And it’s vital!

Seventh Basic Decision: give faithfully and given proportionately of your income to God! This means sitting down with pencil and paper and figuring our what your income is (Uncle Sam helps us do this part of it) and then determine what percentage you can give. The standard is 10 percent. It’s not a law, but it’s a guideline. I recommend the half-tithe, or five percent. It’s a good place to begin and it’s real. And then say to God, “I promise to give this much to you and to my community of faith.” Giving to other charities is another matter. Don’t substitute charity for faithful giving to your community of faith. And, please, don’t try to substitute time for money. Time-giving is good, but it’s no substitute for money – try going to your favorite restaurant and tell them, “I won’t pay for this meal, but if you’ll let me wash dishes, I’ll eat here.”

There’s more to the Christian Life then the above, but these basic decisions keep us on track with Christ and enable us to live a productive and satisfying Christian life.

Just like looking both ways before we cross the street.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Back in the Saddle Again

Good morning and much peace to you.

After a delightful weeks of travels, I’m back in the saddle again.

Felt good to lay it all down for awhile, and it feels good to pick it up again. I’m eager to preach on Psalm 30 this coming Sunday, with an eye on Revelation 5:11-14 – the message is titled, “The Other Side of Sorrow.”

Now that Lent and Easter is behind us, we enter a period of time wherein we ponder what it means for us to live because we know that Christ is risen from the dead. We know this in a deeply spiritual sense, as the Holy Spirit of God testifies to us in the deeps of our being – “He is risen, he is risen, he is risen, indeed!”

We can never prove any of it, of course, and there’s no need to prove any of it, thank God!

It is ours only to live – to live a grateful life, because the stone was rolled away and Christ is risen from the dead. In so living, there is no greater witness to our world than our gratitude, deeply felt and thoroughly lived, even when the chips are down and the sun has set.

As the Psalmist so wisely notes, sorrow lasts but for the night, and joy comes in the morning!

See ya’ Sunday in God’s House, Covenant on the Corner – on the other side of sorrow, the sunny side of the street!

Glad to be back in the saddle again!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Using a Sermon for Spiritual Growth

Growing Into Christ, and Christ Growing Into You.

Did you know that the weekly message from Covenant is almost always available in print the following week and usually posted to the internet by Sunday afternoon, and sometimes the prayers, too?

Take advantage of these offerings and grow into Christ, so that Christ can grow into you.

That reading should be one of the principle avenues for spiritual growth comes as no surprise. Words are at the center of the Christian faith.

By words, God created the heavens and the earth.
By words, God gave the Ten Commandments to Moses and via the many words of theTorah, God shaped his people into a nation.
When Jesus came to us, he was and is the Word of God.
With words, Jesus healed and helped and challenged and chastised; with words he offered comfort and guidance, counsel and wisdom.
With words, he invites fishermen to become disciples.
With words, he infuriates the temple officials.
With words, he gives us God!

Words, words and more words.

We are a creature of words. By words, we understand our world, and with words, we shape our world.

With words, we tell someone, “I love you.”
And though we might show our love a thousand different ways, the beloved longs to hear those three magic words.

We are creatures of the Word.

So, by the Word, we grow into Christ and Christ grows into us.

One of the simplest avenues of growth is the preaching of the church.
Hearing the Word of God read and proclaimed.
And in many a church, the message of the day is available.

As in our case, in print or via blogsite.

Other churches offer video or audio.

Take advantage of these resources to keep on growing in Christ.

Pick up the message the following week or go to the internet, and print it out, if you can.
Read the Scripture of the day and then read the message.
Read it aloud if you can.
Use a pen to underline.
Talk to it, question it, ponder it.
And if you want, call me, talk to me. I’m always game for a cup of coffee or a hamburger!

Some churches have study groups around the Sunday message.
Think of it as an outreach tool.
Invite people into your home to study the message of the day.
Read Scripture aloud to one another and ask questions.
It’s a tool to grow into Christ so that Christ can grow into us.

Most preachers, including this one, work pretty hard to produce a good message. Some Sundays are better than others, no doubt, but every message reveals the heart and the soul of the preacher and the preacher’s desire to say something important about God, and what God means for us.

So, keep on growing into Christ, and Christ will keep on growing into you.

Monday, March 15, 2010


Encouragement is oxygen to the soul.
~ George M. Adams

All of us remember those magical moments when someone believed in us! Oxygen, indeed. Our chests swelled with hope as we breathed deeply, and we walked down the sidewalk with a kick in our steps. Someone believes in us, and we can climb Mt. Everest, barefoot!

Question of the day: Is there someone in your life who needs an oxygen boost?

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Who or What Are We?

Who are we?

Notice, I didn’t ask, “What” are we?

As for the what, there’s a lot of pressure on us to be a what. A consumer! And sadly, so many Americans wear that label proudly. That we refer to ourselves as an “American Consumer” is, or so it seems to me, a contradiction in terms.

Would Washington or Jefferson have nodded in agreement with this?

Or Lincoln or Martin Luther King, Jr.?

Would Jesus?

1957 Cadillacs were consumers, and so are garbage disposals and slot machines.

But people?

The boys and girls in charge of consumerism don’t want us to think about this. They want happy spenders digging themselves deeper and deeper into a financial hole, living for the day and ignoring tomorrow. When 9/11 happened, we were told to go shopping, when we might better have been told to take a few days for family prayer and reflection, or study-up on the Middle East or seek out a Muslim neighbor and find out how they’re feeling.

We used to be a nation that saved.
We paid for things in cash.
We bought stocks for their long-term dividends.
We were slower and more relaxed.
Our homes were smaller and so were our cars.
We ate out less and spent more time with our children.
The gap between top and bottom was smaller.
People sat on their front porches and knew their neighbors.
Kids played in the neighborhood and every adult was their parent.

We were not consumers. We were people.

Our Founding Mothers and Fathers worked hard and sacrificed for us to be people.

And to be people is how God created us, and the reason why Jesus paid us a visit.

He died, of course, because the powerful and the wealthy in Jerusalem were afraid of the people figuring out how badly they’d been duped.

Yet when Easter came, we knew the truth.

We are people! 

Thursday, March 4, 2010

What Is Lent?

Lent isn’t supposed to be easy, but who said life is easy anyway? 

Nor should Lent be silly, like giving up chocolate for a few weeks, or broccoli – talk about triviality. 

What is Lent? 

It’s a time to think deeply about Jesus, and why he said what he said and did what he did, and why some folks thought they’d be better off if he were dead. Lent isn’t for sissies, but then neither is life. 

Lent is for deep thinking and quiet pondering and soul-searching and a time to say, “I’m sorry”-  to God, to the world, to family and friends – to creatures great and small, and to the farthest star, for whatever pain or sorrow or hurt or shame or sadness or distress or stupidity we’ve brought to our world. 

It’s the sheer honesty of Lent that makes Lent so important, and behind all of Lent, woven into it like a golden thread, the safety of God for those who are honest. “Come to me, all you that are weary and carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.” Honesty and safety – powerful elements in our journey through Lent!

Friday, January 29, 2010

Every Hour

"Some people can stay longer in an hour than others can in a week."
~ Wm. Dean Howells

When I read this, I realized once again to stop, look and listen. To let my eyes really see the world around me, its sights, sounds and smells ... to look at people whom I love, to really see them, the little lines around the eyes and the mouth, the depth of their eyes, the timbre of their voice. And to pay attention even to myself - m values and my hopes, yes, and even my fears and my tears, too - where do they come from and how do they work, and how deep and swift, in every life I meet, run the rivers of God's love.

God is found upon many, many, paths, God be praised, but not every path leads to God. Greed and cruelty lead only to dust.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

To the Person Who Brought Three Neighbors

To the person who brought three neighbors to church this past Sunday, hats off!!!

Because that’s what it’s all about!

Ask yourself: “If I’ve been a member of Covenant for more than 20 years, who invited me the first time? And if I sought out the church on my own, who made the effort to connect with me?”

Many of you will be able to answer either or both of these questions with real names of real people who connected with you and gave you “the invitation.”

It’s as simple as inviting our neighbors, friends and family-members to come with us to church. We just have to do it, and not expect “someone else” to do it. It’s not the pastor or the elders, it’s not the deacons or some committee – it’s all of us who need to be “sending out those invitations.”

And then really follow up - sit with them, go out for lunch with them afterward, talk about God and faith, if it seems right, and keep on inviting them, sitting with them, and praying for them. Stay with it!

To the person who brought three neighbors to worship, three cheers for you and then some! Keep up the good work. You are an inspiration!

Covenant on the Corner, get busy sending out those invitations!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Human Instinct

It is our instinct to want comfort without a commitment to Christ ... to have peace of mind without compassion for others ... in other words, we want Christ for ourselves, and that, of course, never works. Christ denies these petitions of ours. To change, it takes a miracle, awareness and desire.

The awareness begins in a place like this, where we consider the whole counsel of God, not just the benefits we desire, but the blessings of God, which are always transformative.

Desire begins, like someone in AA, who's sick and tired of feeling sick and tired. We begin to desire something more than the self, and so begins a search.

Miracle is simply the love of God at work - the desire for the blessings of God, to see God's face, to have all of Christ, is a petition God honors, and God enters into the deep places of mind and heart, to begin a transformation.

Nothing quick, of course. For that would be mostly unprofitable for us. It took a long time for us to build our world without Christ; it'll take time to disassemble it and rebuild it with Christ. Every day, like a refurbishing of an old home, every nail pulled, every wall torn down, is one more step toward a new home. The dismantling is as important as the rebuilding.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

The Power of Faith

Dear Genesis,

The first word from the angels to the shepherds in the dark hills: "Fear not."

I can't think of anything more important for us in these recent days when "terrorist hysteria" is growing as a result of the young man who attempted to blow up his plane.

David Brooks, New York Times, has written a fine piece on "The God that Fails" ... (click HERE to read).

Roosevelt, as the outset of WW2 said to Congress and to the nation, "The Only thing we have to fear is fear itself."

Fear IS mighty important to God, because God knows what fear does to us. From an overly-anxious parent telling a child they'll be kidnapped and killed if they talk to a stranger to a politician garnering votes, fear is a powerful tool, but one that always ends badly! Children grow up anxious and unsure of themselves to a nation easily manipulated by the worst kinds of self-interest.

Faith is crucial to the way we live our lives. The Bible says it well: "Perfect love (completely centered in Christ) casts out all fear" - 1 John 4:18. I fear that many of our leaders are not above using fear to further their own unsavory ends. 

Faith speaks to these days ... tomorrow's message, "Firm Foundation" ... to stand on Christ, in a world where everything else easily turns to jello.

May we all stand firmly with Christ our Lord!

Blessings ...