I’ve never fainted.  Or known of anyone else to either.  Usually see swooning faints in old movies or on television, but not in my experience.  However, we always have smelling salts at the churches I serve.  My sermons are not that disturbing or super duper mind-blowing, causing people to pass out.  At least, not that I know of!

Smelling salts wake up a collapsed person, bringing them to consciousness.  What’s like that in my life?  That wakes me up.  Gives insight and perspective in a mind-numbing world.  You know.  Yes, the Bible.  Go to the head of the class, whiz kid!

The longer I hang around spaceship Earth, the less I’m sure about almost anything.  What’s been rock solid fact soon becomes slimy mush fiction.  What’s considered morally right gets cast aside like old, bald tires.  Useless and dangerous.  Makes me lightheaded.  About to faint.  Break out the smelling salts!

That’s when I open my Bible to hear from God.  He never changes.  Not fazed by the latest whatever.  Can stand up to the most ghastly abuse hurled His way.  And where do I know about this great God?  Right again, Einstein!

Psalm 44:1–‘We have heard with our ears, O God; our Fathers have told us what you did in their days, in days long ago.’  Ancient Israel takes seriously its commission to pass along God’s truth to the next generation.  Word of mouth being one way.  What’s more lasting is the written record of God’s character, commands and actions.  God’s people are committed to preserving and caring for His trustworthy record, giving us a place to stand when the floor gives way.

They did a super job.  Only a few spelling errors here-and-there, but the bulk of Bible material remains letter perfect.  Not talking about a postcard from Aunt Tilly, mailed from Atlantic City’s boardwalk in 1962.  No.  Written records thousands of years old.  Meticulously transmitted by one hand to the next, from one age to another.  From scroll to book.  From billions of hard paper copies to endless digital ones.  Spot on.  Without parallel.  Second to none.

Pick up your Bible.  Get into it.  And it into you.  A holy habit.  Daily.  Without fail.  Keep at it.  Like using smelling salts, you’ll wake up to a world of Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

And so much more.  A far better world.  Truly the best!


Thank you, Lord, for truth found in the Bible.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

SIN’S REWARDS Numbers 32: 23-24

I can still hear her warnings.  My mother scares me with these–‘God’s going to get you’.  ‘Be sure your sins will find you out.’  I was a nice little boy.  A polio victim needing extra TLC!  Maybe not.  I guess I stepped over the line.  Did what I shouldn’t have.  Those words come flying at me and hit their target’s bullseye.

My mother was not a particularly religious person.  Rarely attends church as an adult.  Been to Sunday School and Christian Endeavor youth programs, but with seeming little lasting effect.  Except when needed in her arsenal of discipline with her youngest!

Doubt my mother knows she’s quoting from the Old Testament book of Numbers–‘…and you may be sure that your sin will find you out’ (Numbers 32:23).  The only Bible verse she memorizes for Christian Endeavor is ‘Jesus wept’ (John 11:35).  She’s probably not alone!

Numbers 32 is not an easy read.  Not to modern ears and eyes.  War never is.  The people of ancient Israel have battles ahead, great and fearsome ones, to gain God’s Promised Land.  Read the book of Numbers.  It’ll be in your face.  Hard to take.  Harder to fathom the sacrifices required.

Back to my mother’s warning about sin finding me out, catching me red-handed and flatfooted.  Sin doesn’t pay.  Calls us out.  Does us in.  Wreaks havoc in more ways than one.  Then spills over, corrupting future generations.  Its insidious ways poison so much and so many.  Sin will find us out.  My mother’s right.

The remedy?  Too simple for most.  For believers, its simplicity is overshadowed by the enormity of Jesus’ love and sacrifice.  Almost unimaginable yet true and trustworthy.  All our sin exposed and laid on our Savior’s shoulders.  He then takes them and tosses them far, far away.  A threat no longer.

Could forgiveness and salvation be mere pie in the sky?  Hardly.  In reality it’s the real McCoy.  On the up and up and twenty-four carat gold.  All because of Jesus.  His gifts… never earned by us.  That’s our Savior’s rewards!


Thank you, Jesus, for everything.  Amen.



How many times has the Lord saved my bacon?  Grabbed me by the hand just as I’m heading over some cliff’s edge?  Saved by heaven’s bell.  Yet, I rarely notice.  Clueless.  Things happen.  Messes work themselves out.  Lucky break.  Good karma.  Really?  Not!

Wish I could see God at work.  Wouldn’t I feel much better?  Not so fearful.  There’s that word.  Fear.  My father suffered with too many worries for his own good.  Kept him hemmed in, fulfilling few of his supposed dreams.  Some of his claustrophobic fears that I witness, I inherit.

Fear.  Shadows from the past, biting us in the here and now.  Water, under the bridge, flooding to the surface.  Its upstream sins now rush downstream, finding us out.  How about all those risks life throws at us?  We’re afraid to leave home, even though most accidents occur under its roof.  Thanks for the reminder!  Now I’m mired in a blue funk, taken down a peg or two.

What about the future?  Oy veh!  Not then.  Money problems down the road a piece.  Medical can of peas around the corner.  Kids imploding.  Marriages exploding.  Pastors running amok.  Churches splitting and dying.  Politics wrenching with horrendous hostility and division.  The future?  What’s to fear?  Come to think of it– everything including the kitchen sink.  And you know what plumbers charge!  Woe is me.

Ready for some good news?  Deuteronomy 1:29-31–‘…Do not be terrified; do not be afraid of them.  The Lord your God, who is going before you, will fight for you, as he did for you in Egypt, before your very eyes, and in the desert.  There you saw how the Lord your God carried you, as a father carries his son, all the way you went until you reached this place.’

Stop for a second.  Put on your thinking cap.  Look back.  Brainstorm about the times that God has helped you.  Count those many blessings.  Think of more.  Smell the wood burning?  Throw on another log.  Stir up the embers.

This week, when fears rear their ugly heads, I’m going to guard myself with God’s good promises, praising Him as much as I can.  At least I’ll try, as I’m far from perfect.  But He knows.  He understands.  Like a good father carrying us.

Join me?  Nothing to fear…


Thank you, Lord, for all your goodness promised to us in Jesus.  Amen.



CONTENTMENT Ecclesiastes 7

Being content.  Satisfied.  Pleased as punch.  Wonder what that looks like?  How would I know if I’ve achieved it?  Obviously, I’m clueless.  Hence the question.

I’m not content.  Not sure I want to be.  Sounds a bit like being lazy.  Satisfied with less in life; when, with some effort, more could be achieved.

I don’t want to stagnate.  Stand still.  Tread water.  A sluggish slacker.  Stale and putrid.  Moseying along like Elsie, Borden’s Sweetened Condensed Milk’s contented cow, chewing my cud!  Enough already!

Obviously, the Old Testament Book of Ecclesiastes doesn’t commend sleepyheaded blanket pressers.  Hardly.  Read it and you’ll discover that the author dives headfirst into life.  Old King Solomon makes quite a splash.  Tries this, burrows into that.  Maybe life in too much fullness!

However, he concludes that contentment has eluded him.  Being malcontent, he breathes the foul, fetid air of meaninglessness as if life is passing him by.  Ever felt that way?

Ecclesiastes 7: 13-15–‘Consider what God has done:  Who can straighten what he has made crooked?  When times are good, be happy; but when times are bad, consider: God has made the one as well as the other.  Therefore, a man cannot discover anything about his future.  In this meaningless life of mine…’  See?

Our blood, sweat and tears will not prove to be long-lasting.  We’re easily replaced.  Yesterday’s headlines rarely register in our memory banks for more than a few months.  Money-grubbers end up leaving behind every thin dime in spite of spending their lives grabbing and glomming onto mountains of moola, dough and the tallest stack of greenbacks their grubby paws can grasp at.  Contentment?  Not!

So today’s Bible verses point us away from this world.  To where?  Of course, to the Lord of all.  Like that Gospel song– ‘This world is not my home, I’m just a passin’ through’.  For believers, home is a mansion over the hilltop.  Where life will be packed to overflowing with meaning.  Best of all, we’ll be with Jesus.

God gives many promises.  But few specific guarantees.  Will you live to be a hundred?  Die before your children or grandchildren?  That your job will be effortless and well paid?  Churches rift-free?  Every day hunky-dory with gobs of peaches-and-cream to feast on?  Yeah, right.  Again, God’s promises clock in with fewer specific guarantees.

So, accept what comes.  Some things you can and must fight.  Others you dare not.  Pray for wisdom in an uncertain and untrustworthy world.

By the way, what does His level of contentment look like…to you?  Don’t put on the gas here.  Or shake a leg.  Slow down.  Apply the brakes.  Pull to the side of the road.  Chew on it for a bit.  Challenging, isn’t it?  Especially for the likes of me!



Thank you, Lord, that we can always trust you.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.