Stan* came over to my house. Earlier he sent me an email stating that he and his wife would not be attending our small group. But I wanted at least a chance to get to know him so I invited him over to chat. During the course of our conversation Stan said he and his wife were having a difficult time finding a church to attend in Colorado Springs because of theological differences. When I asked him what that meant Stan said that they did not believe Jesus was God. Therefore, church leaders were not comfortable putting them in a leadership position. He further elaborated that 95% of Christians mistakenly are taught and believe in Jesus’ deity. No wonder they were having trouble finding a church home!
Mark 6:2,3—When the Sabbath came, He began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard Him were astonished. “Where did this man get these things?” they said. “What is this wisdom given to Him, and how are these miracles performed by His hands? Isn’t this the carpenter, the son of Mary, and the brother of James, Joses, Judas, and Simon? And aren’t His sisters here with us?” So they were offended by Him.
My ranger friend Chaplain Bruce took me out prospecting not far from Pikes Peak. In our backpacks we had multiple water bottles and coconut water and we were pretty sure we would not get thirsty. What we did not count on was deviating from our plotted course or how steep some of the climb would be. By early evening, as we descended through forest, we ran out of fluids and Bruce’s legs severely cramped up. Had we gone much further the same thing would have happened to me. It is easy to get dehydrated in the dry air of Colorado. Water is life.
Carol Dweck, in her book Mindset, characterizes people with the growth mindset as those who are willing to: embrace challenges; persist in the face of setbacks; see efforts as the path to mastery; learn from criticism; and, find lessons and inspiration from the success of others. Consequently, they reach “ever-higher levels of achievement.”
Matthew 9:32-34—Just as they were going out, a demon-possessed man who was unable to speak was brought to Him. When the demon had been driven out, the man spoke. And the crowds were amazed, saying, “Nothing like this has ever been seen in Israel!” But the Pharisees said, “He drives out demons by the ruler of the demons!”
Every year about 1500 volunteers gather on December 24that Building 910 on Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs. They arrive fifteen minutes before the start of their two hour shift to receive instructions and then move to one of four conference rooms where phone lines are set up. During eleven shifts, over 134,000 calls and over 6500 emails will come in from all over the world, (mostly the U.S. and Canada), from children and adults who want to know where Santa Claus is.
Operation Guardian is an exercise designed for selected Army units to practice search and rescue, decontamination, life-saving skills, convoy movement and set up and tear down of portable equipment. I had the opportunity to watch my soldiers train in Florida and Georgia. When I arrived in Ocala my staff briefed me that there were civilians seeking admittance to our training who were spreading reports that the exercise was a staging operation to bring in foreign occupation troops and remove American freedoms.
Jesus had a meeting with His disciples in response to their questions about how they should operate after He returned to heaven. He told them that they needed to write down a vision and mission statement—this would help keep them focused. Second, it would be very wise to have a clear rule book with His stated commands so people would know what they could and could not do—much simpler and more elegant than what the Pharisees were teaching. Third they would need to get a solid 501 (c)(3) so that they would get credit with the tax collectors for their donations. Fourth, they certainly would want to set regular meetings up—preferably on Sunday mornings to differentiate themselves from Jews meeting on the Sabbath. Finally, they should call themselves Christians so they would not be confused with idol worshipers or Jews who refused to believe in Him. You can read the aforementioned discussion in the book of Machinations—a lost part of Scripture recently unearthed in Portland, Oregon. (Of course this is not true).
In the fall of 1977, I struggled mightily to get my Calculus grade from an F to a D. Worn out from a heavy academic load, I looked forward to flying to Idaho to spend the holidays with my girlfriend and my favorite aunt and uncle. Just weeks before leaving, I received a “Dear John” letter from Julie, graciously letting me know that she was seeing someone in California and wanted to break up. On top of that bad news, this was the last year that West Point had final exams after the holidays meaning I had much studying to do over the last two weeks of December. My heart was heavy and my mind was not on math. When I returned to New York I scored the lowest in the entire class on the Calculus exam, failed the course, and had to go to summer school.
Mark 15:15—Then, willing to gratify the crowd, Pilate released Barabbas to them. And after having Jesus flogged, he handed Him over to be crucified.
It was a bittersweet day. Although I earned my Expert Infantryman Badge (EIB) at Fort Benning, Georgia as a Second Lieutenant, I lost my West Point ring in the process. I have always thought it would be great to rent a metal detector and go searching for that lost treasure. The problem is, many decades later, I have no idea even what area to search!
Last week I stayed at the Crown Astor in New Orleans for a military conference. On Friday night I got almost no sleep. On the fifth floor near my room was a group of visiting university students. Evidently, the guys partnered with girls to drink and engage in loud and vulgar revelry. It saddened me to think how many parents don’t care or have no idea what their children are doing.
The earliest known discovery of humans using an adhesive is linked to spear stone flakes glued to wood with birch-bark-tar found in central Italy. In Sibudu Cavein South Africa humans used compound glues from plant gum and red ochrethousands of years ago. Similarly six thousand-year-old ceramics show evidence of adhesives made from horse teeth. Native Americans of the eastern United States used a combination of spruce gum and fat to create waterproof seams in their birch bark canoes.
Matthew 14:13—When Jesus heard about it, He withdrew from there by boat to a remote place to be alone. When the crowds heard this, they followed Him on foot from the towns.
Matthew 1:1—The historical record of Jesus Christ, the Son of David, the Son of Abraham.
Whenever I come to a section of Scripture that is a genealogy or a long list of names, my tendency is to quickly skim through it and move on. After all, why spend time reading a list of names? This year for my daily quiet time I decided to read through Scripture and include the study notes in my Holman Study Bible. I was quite blessed by what I learned about Matthew 1:1-17 which is the genealogy of Jesus Christ.
Marvin Alan Klegman was an eleven-year old Jewish boy who lived in a small two-bedroom home in Tacoma, Washington with his mom and dad, and his younger brother Kerry. Marvin was a motivated Cub Scout and honor roll student. At Lowell Elementary School he served as a crossing-guard. Marvin also worked as a paperboy. He won a Schwinn bicycle in a citywide contest by selling the most Tacoma News Tribune newspaper subscriptions.
Our garage is full of boxes and items that we will transport to Champoeg State Park. The weather forecast for Sunday is 72 degrees and cloudy—almost perfect! The kitchen is stacked with boxes of food, prepared and unprepared. Brenda, Kathleen’s sister, spent countless hours ironing tablecloths, dresses, shirts, etc. Orange and purple flower arrangements dance in their splendid array. Bridesmaids are making signs. Kathleen’s friends of countless weddings, veterans familiar in how these things go, are cooking, planning and helping us with all the logistical challenges (and I thought military exercises were complicated).
Like most Christians, we went to church this Easter Sunday. The pastor gave a message from John 20. His sermon was thoughtful and true to the Word but I left feeling something profound was missing.
Chip and Dan Heath wrote a terrific book called Switch, subtitled, How to Change Things When Change is Hard. If you are a leader or a worker in an organization undergoing change, this is necessary read. Chip and Dan make a point that self-control is an exhaustible resource. They share an experiment that proves the point. Researchers divided college students into two groups and placed them in a room with two bowls: one contained chocolate and chocolate-chip cookies while the other contained radishes. One group could only eat the cookies; the other group could only eat the radishes. The researchers then left the room to induce temptation. Fortunately, all the participants followed the rules. Next each group received a series of unsolvable puzzles. The group that ate the chocolate spent nineteen minutes on the task making 34 attempts to solve the challenge. The radish eaters gave up after only eight minutes and 19 solution attempts. Why did this latter group quit so quickly? They used up self-control by not eating the chocolate!
Scientist Palmer Bailey, “the stars and rocks guy” airs a heavenly radio segment each week called The Northern Sky. In a fresh broadcast he shared that the planet Venus, after the Moon, is the brightest natural object in the night sky and is referred to as the “evening star.” Normally we see it in the southwest. However, as Palmer tells us, recently the brightest star in the sky has not been Venus but rather Jupiter. Once every thirteen months the earth passes Jupiter in its slower, larger orbit an event called “opposition” because Jupiter appears in the eastern sky exactly the opposite direction from the setting sun.