James 2:18—But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. (ESV)
The faith versus deeds debate is a wrestle that transcends generations. Even so, I believe that in the wrestle of today’s culture, these verses could be reapplied as so: “But someone will say, “You have grace and I have holiness.” Show me your grace apart from your holiness, and I will show you my grace by my holiness.”
Marianne got up out of the driver’s seat and left our van. I wondered where she was going and was amazed at what I saw. She walked about fifty feet away to a man pulling luggage out of his car. She grabbed his suitcase rolled it to the van and lugged it up the stairs before depositing it in the luggage rack. His bag was huge and she was probably in her sixties. When he climbed into the vehicle with the rest of his gear, he seemed embarrassed that this slight, gray-haired woman carried his heaviest suitcase.
German immigrant John Roebling began building the Brooklyn Bridge in New York in 1870. In 1883 it was completed along with an amazing story of three people’s determination.
Mr. Roebling was told by bridge building experts to give up trying his impossible design. Undeterred, he talked his son Washington, also an engineer into helping him. Together they hired a crew and began work. While conducting surveys for the project, a ferry pinned John’s foot against a piling so severely injuring his toes that his foot required amputation. Then the crippled man developed a tetanus infection which led to his death!
I’m sure you have noticed that the news seems to be getting worse by the week. Tonight I ate dinner with Ken and Brenda and their sons in Charlottesville, Virginia. They were telling me about all the people who have lost jobs in the Richmond area and how thankful they are Ken still has his job. Ken said it hasn’t been this bad in this area since the early 70’s.
This evening, I’m sitting at a desk at a Residence Inn in northern Virginia. At some hour today I reached a new milestone—I turned fifty. This is a splacious moment (my word for great!) With each passing year, I get to learn new things in older ways and I’m grateful to God for the privilege.
Supervisor’s 1st Week Work Evaluation of Prospective Employees:
He walked into work and people were crying—not a good sign. The warehouse manger, not his boss, called him into his office and read him a form letter announcing that he would be let go. “Dan, your job has been eliminated.” Dan put his hand on the manager’s hand and said, “Dave, don’t make this any harder on yourself than you need to. You’re my friend.” Dave started crying. “Somebody’s going to have to escort you out of the building.”
Labor Day is a holiday celebrated in America the first Monday in September. It is unclear who first conceived of this day but for over 100 years it has served as a tribute and dedication to the social and economic achievements of American workers. Regardless of what country we live in, work is an important facet of our everyday lives.
It was a bright and hot Saturday outside Palm Springs as my family wandered through the Living Desert. Inside one of the exhibits we encountered a fascinating tunnel system full of Heterocephalus glabers—naked mole rats. These pale rodents are the only known mammals that live in a eusocial (truly social) system. All members of the group huddle together when sleeping in colonies that may consist of 20-300 creatures. Like bees, ants and termites, naked mole rats divide into classes of hierarchy. First in order is the dominant queen who may have up to five litters in a year with 1-27 newborns. Next, there are one to three breeding males followed by two to three soldiers who protect and care for the colony. Finally, there are many workers. These asexual workers exist to dig the tunnels and find food. A mole rat can live 15-20 years in captivity and has the strongest jaw muscles for a mammal its size.
Imagine being told you are headed to Iraq and you may not see your family for a year. You are trained with specific skills and given an important mission. Once you get past the emotional struggle of leaving your family you focus in on the task ahead of you. But everything changes. Instead of deploying overseas your unit ends up at Fort Lewis and you and your fellow combat engineers are assigned to work as gate guards for the installation. Meet SSG Osborne! Such was the fate he and his fellow National Guardsmen from Oregon encountered.
I sometimes look into their eyes and wonder what lies inside their head. Is the fact that virtually no one smiles a sign of emptiness? Or are they simply tired from a long day? Driving down Hwy 99W it isn’t hard to see faces of drivers traveling in the other direction because with all the traffic lights, no one moves very fast.
“Strength as One” is a great class motto. Attending my 20th West Point reunion was a fresh reminder of a unique gathering of unpretentious classmates who are a joy to be around and a blessing in so many ways. By measured statistics, the class of ’81 is special both in service to our country and in generosity. I found myself again humbled that God would allow me, a scrawny missionary kid from the Philippines, the privilege of spending four years of my life with such outstanding people.
Have you ever assembled a piece of furniture? I recently purchased a home entertainment center knowing my limited construction skills would be challenged. I’m not very skilled when it comes to building things. I’d be a natural guest for Home Improvement in what not to do! But I figured as long as I followed the excellent by-the-numbers directions and had help from my good friend Dan, I’d be fine. I worked late into the night and was quite pleased with the emerging work of art.
I rise up from my bed today with thoughts beyond attire,
To serve with every breath I take to please my Lord and Sire,
I know that obstacles may come, temptations from the liar,
But they cannot put out the Flame, my everlasting fire!
The Kahiltna glacier feeds the broad Kahiltna River that in turn is joined by the clear running water of Peter’s Creek. Where the fast-moving milky river and the rippling creek meet is a place where thousands of Silver Salmon leave their river highway from the Pacific Ocean to return home and spawn. On the northwest side of the watery marriage high above in a birch tree is an eagle’ nest. Eaglet’s cries pierce the valley as they screech for food.
The beginning of the year is a time when people in our society reflect. For many, new resolutions and goals are forged on the gold-embossed pages of a new journal. Yet as the past is closed for the door of tomorrow a timeless God is not concerned with another year. His word makes His question clear—are we loyal to Him?
Bruce Thielemann tells the story in Christus Imperator of a king long ago who organized a great race within his kingdom. All the young men in the land participated. A bag of gold was to be given to the winner, and the finish line was within the courtyard of the king's palace. During the race the runners were surprised to find in the middle of the road leading to the king's palace a great pile of rocks and stones. But they managed to scramble over it or to run around it and eventually to come to the courtyard.
Is there anything mankind cannot accomplish? Pick up a newspaper and you are likely to find an advertisement for a seminar hosted by a professional motivator who will take your life to new dimensions with his or her “can’t lose” methods. Christianity is not immune from this phenomenon. The hot message today revolves around “You can do it—and we’ll show you how!” There is a subtle danger to this approach . . . The how or what takes priority over the who!