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Blood on the Doorpost of Heaven

A Facebook friend has publicly denied the Christian faith. He's the second one in a few years' time. Another young acquaintance has also declared himself an atheist. Over the years any number of Christian leaders whom I've respected have fallen into adultery. Even my spiritually faithful friends seem to be struggling in their convictions and interpersonal relationships. My personal windows give a rather bleak picture of the Christian landscape just now . . . It is against this backdrop of temptation and disloyalty that an Old Testament law governing slavery begins to take on new meaning.

Bridges to Burn

Bridges are important in regular wars. Bridges take armies across rivers and canyons. Enemy armies try to stop each other at bridges. An army destroys the bridge before its enemy gets there. The enemy army cannot use the bridge then. They cannot attack. They cannot escape. The river or canyon stops them. Sometimes the river or canyon also stops the army that destroyed the bridge. When this happens we say they “burned their bridge behind them.”  Bridges are important in spiritual war too. We do not destroy bridges people use to cross rivers, but we need to destroy some spiritual bridges. It works like this.

Dropping Out

He had a lot to deal with, and the fact that he knew of people making good money with less education didn’t make the grind any easier. Finally, within weeks of graduation, Jack had had enough. He dropped out.

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Dying Faith

 Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom.” The man who spoke those words had incredible gall. He had just admitted he deserved to be hanging by nails from a wooden rack in public. He had just admitted he was dying because he was evil.

Dying with Dinner in Its Mouth

The winter hadn’t been kind to the local fish, and that spring a number of their carcasses came ashore for the world to see. Many fish had suffocated when thick ice prevented the air from replenishing the oxygen supply in the water. Two fish, however, had died for a different reason.

Easter Thought

The old folk hymn “Were You There?” recently reminded me of the real meaning of Easter.

Everything I Didn't Have

What is eternal life worth? Is it worth everything? Think about death. Think about Hell. Such thoughts bring to mind the day a school bully was chasing me. He grabbed my jacket. I slipped out of my jacket and kept running. I was willing to pay about any price if only I could make it safely home. When making it safely home means making it to Heaven, there is no price I wouldn’t be willing to pay. That price leads to a problem.

Forklift photo

Exciting People

I felt honored the day a little boy waved at me. He was sitting by his back door on a nice spring morning. I was across the alley running a forklift for the lumber company for which I had recently started working. Presumably, he would have waved at any adult whose attention he could claim, but then, I was a little boy once too. A man driving a forklift is exciting to a preschooler. Driving a forklift comes across as less exciting to the man driving it.

Failed Horizons   

“Dave, I want to show you something.” My flight instructor took control of the two-seat Cessna. Moments later the airplane pitched over. The sky disappeared from the windshield as we plunged earthward, spinning wildly. I felt like I was going to die as I braced against gravity. We were in what pilots call a spin. While the fear factor was real, I had asked for this very experience.  

Failing for the Lord

Are you willing to fail for the Lord? Fail for the Lord? Now wait a minute!

Fire Danger!

Anyone who has experienced winter in the northern forest knows how welcome springtime can be. The change to mild weather happens almost reluctantly, and snow flurries can occur after the first thunderstorm, but spring is still spring. The air warms. The snow melts. The soil thaws and begins to warm. The water left by the snow dries up. Trees bud. The grass turns green. The glories of a northern summer begin to assert themselves. Spring is a most welcome time in the north woods.  Spring is also a dangerous time in the north woods.

Flea Medicine

I gave my cat a dose of flea medicine today. He didn’t like it. For that matter, he didn’t like it the last time or the time before that either. As one who feared doctors and shots as a kid, I almost understand. Only, this medicine isn’t a shot. It’s not even a pill to disguise as something nice. It is simply a little tube of liquid. It is dispensed by holding the small end of the tube against his neck and squeezing the large end. His body absorbs the medicine through the skin, which in turn helps repel fleas and ticks. An observer would suspect I tortured him.


It is interesting that God doesn't call us to walk away from the desires of the flesh. He tells us to flee from them. With reference to the love of money and its related desires He says: But thou, O man of God, flee these things” (from 1 Timothy 6:11). Later He says: “Flee also youthful lusts” (from 2 Timothy 2:22). Fleeing is by nature a wild, desperate, all-or nothing activity. While it can be the result of a deliberate choice, it isn't a careful deliberate action. Fleeing sees danger and responds accordingly. Take for instance, the day I fled from the class bully . . . The civil defense siren that started blaring before we pulled out wasn't exactly reassuring either. Besides, the whole city was jumpy.

How to Have a Relationship with God

Spiritual life represents the highest level of human existence. That life, however, doesn't come from our own efforts. It must come directly from God. The spirit of the person who enters into a relationship with God receives life--the ability to actually function on a spiritual level and to live forever. The person who doesn't have this relationship is separated from God and unable to live in the spiritual sense, now or after death. Getting life from God is the most important thing any of us can ever do. Since God loves us, He is eager to give us spiritual life and the relationship that causes it as a gift. Based on the Bible, here is how you can receive God's gift of spiritual life.


Living Water

This photo obviously represents a winter view. Yes, forest growth still slows part of the stream. But look carefully. The creek still runs. A few miles to the southwest, a lake that is at least a mile wide and long lies frozen over, its ice buried in snow. A river big enough for canoes lies a few miles to the north. It is ice enshrouded. A well-known canoe river lies a few more miles to the north. It, too, is covered with ice. Yet, this little stream flows on.

My Cat's Food is Eating His Food

My cat's food is eating his food! OK, now that you're thoroughly confused, here's what's happening.


My Medals

As young boys will do, my cousin and I sometimes pretended we were men and in the military. Whoever had the latest toys influenced which branch of service we fancied ourselves part of.

One day, my cousin increased his standing in the ranks. He came up with medals. They weren’t the real thing, of course, just two pieces of gold-colored plastic fastened to colorful ribbons. They hadn’t cost so very much at the dime store, but in a world of make-believe they represented valor. The guy with medals is no longer just a warrior; he’s a warrior who has done something really good. (This story is told to illustrate a spiritual truth rather than to make a political or militaristic statement.)


I suppose I might as well confess. I haven’t always done a good job of maintaining my cars. One vehicle in particular comes to mind, a small red station wagon that I really liked. Liking a car and liking to work on it are not the same thing, however, and changing oil ranked high on the list of things I didn’t like to do. As a result, that poor car went a lot more than the normal 3,000 miles between oil changes

Noah and the Two Sides of Grace

My in-box recently displayed e-mails touching on one of Christianity's most important controversies. One e-mail asserted that grace frees us from a regulated lifestyle. The writer’s view of grace emphasizes that we cannot earn our way with God, that grace is God's goodness to the undeserving. The other electronic letter proclaimed that grace is God’s empowerment to become what He wants us to be. That writer seemed to suggest that God's grace helps us live so as to be deserving. The underlying theology is huge; and since we depend upon God's grace for salvation, we do well to come down on the right side of this dispute.

Nuclear Peanuts and Tin Can Jets

When I was about seven, I tried to set off a nuclear reaction. I didn't understand the magnitude of what I attempted, but I did try. It happened like this.

Cat on walk

Of Cat Food and Christians

In October I broke down and took my cat to the veterinarian. The law required a rabies shot. The professionals at the vet clinic expanded that one shot to include a couple other shots, treatment for fleas and ear mites I didn’t know he had, and a schedule for neutering. Adopting a stray cat gets expensive. After talking with the vet, so does feeding him.

On Growing Up Without Television

It's kind of ironic, but I watch a lot of television at work. The people I work for subscribe to cable and keep a TV in the office. When there's down time or when my duties keep me inside, I see something I have spent most of my life without.

Prom Night

It is springtime, and the school year is coming to a close in the mid-western United States. Small town public schools celebrate an old American tradition called “the prom.” For those of you in other countries, “the prom” is a party held by the local high school for students in their last two years of study. The kids dress up in formal clothing and dance.

Quitting Isn't Always Bad

I saw a slogan on a man’s T-shirt yesterday that bothered me. It said, “Rehab is for quitters.” Maybe if the man didn’t make his living selling alcoholic beverages, his shirt wouldn’t have screamed so loudly. But he does, and it did. Maybe if I didn’t spend part of my time ministering to people whose lives are being destroyed by alcohol, I could have appreciated the humor. But I do, and I didn’t. Oh, I understand our society’s disdain for “quitters.” People who start out to do something and then drop out leave lots of unhappiness in their wakes.


Christians seem fascinated with the Bible’s prophecies about the end of the earth. We greet new technology with speculation that the anti-Christ will use it to subdue the world. We watch events in Israel and the Middle-East and tell ourselves that each happening is a step toward the end. We map and remap the course to Armageddon with changing international trends. Christian novels with end-times themes become best sellers. Prophecy conferences draw large crowds. Every now and again someone even attracts widespread attention by predicting the date of Christ's return.

Seeking Death

I just tried to kill a couple houseflies. There wasn't anything wrong with the fly swatter, but I missed. My failure doesn't represent much of a second chance. Those flies were already seeking death.


When I was a schoolboy, sir was an awesome word. In my father’s stories of World War II, ordinary soldiers called the officers who commanded them, “Sir!” My southern cousins were taught to use the word when addressing their father. I both envied and pitied those cousins. I could imagine myself saying, “Sir,” but I couldn’t actually do so—it was too humbling

Spring or Rock Formation?

You are looking at a picture of Liberty Cap. This rock formation at Yellowstone National Park in the western United States stands over thirty feet tall. It’s one of the many impressive natural features in the park. Just to keep you guessing, though, Liberty Cap isn’t a rock formation. It’s a spring of water. Water? That’s correct, or at least it was.

Swimming with Piranhas

A clear-sided container held several small tropical fish. Swimming in the same tank were piranhas. Piranhas, of course, are also small tropical fish, but they were the bigger of the two species. The difference, other than size and shape, is reputation. Piranhas are known killers. They aren’t something you’d want to be in the same tank with--especially if you happened to be a smaller fish.

Tax Day

It dawned on me a short time ago that today is April 15. This date is, perhaps, the most dreaded day on the U.S. calendar.

The Abandoned Skyscraper

The building near the edge of downtown caught my eye the first time I saw it. It stood tall and narrow like the skyscrapers pictured in old books. Of course, it only stood ten stories tall. It didn’t really count as a skyscraper beside the city’s newer fifty-story buildings. It was very visibly old and decaying. A tree had sprouted and grown from a small roof on the side of the main tower. At first, the weathering letters on its side seemed to spell "Joy Tower." A closer look showed that this was the Ivy Tower. It looked like an abandoned building on that day twelve years ago.

The Beacon

Those traveling cross-country at night often see a beam of white light arching across the sky. It sweeps across the blackness, then disappears. But it reappears, flashing steadily until sunrise. This light might seem eerie, except most people know what it is. It comes from the beacon at an airport.

The Cat in the Trash Can

In the early stages of adopting my cat last summer, I realized he wouldn't be a house cat. I don't own my house, and the owner doesn't want a cat inside. Prince will have to be an outdoor cat. Eventually I built an insulated cat house from a combination of newly purchased wood and some scraps. Like the ones on the internet, it stood up on stilts with a front deck big enough for a cat to lie on. Otherwise, it was a lot like a flat-roofed dog house. Another old coat went inside for bedding. There was one problem. Prince wasn't interested in his cat house.

The Road Through the Swamp

My morning walk takes me through a swamp. It isn’t a large swamp, only a wet area along the banks of a small stream. I enjoy the swamp. Rabbits and deer shelter in its bushes. The deep grass stands heavy with dew. Tiny minnows swim in the clear, shallow brook. The standing water reflects the sky. The whole visual picture seems to call out for exploration. Yet, as I ponder the scene, I realize that I don’t want to get serious about exploring the swamp.

This Gift's for You

For a nine-year-old who wanted to be a pilot some day, this metal and plastic wonder was a necessity. I fell in love with that orange plane at first sight. . .There was a problem. I didn't have an unlimited supply of spending money. There was an even bigger problem. My father and I weren't shopping for toys for me. We were looking for a Christmas gift to take to the fourth grade Christmas party. Yes, Daddy would buy one of those beautiful treasures for one of my classmates, but he wouldn't buy it for me.

Those New Antique Locomotives

One might say that even at a very early age, the lonely prairie left me restless. An example would be my reaction to the freight trains that clattered along lonely prairie tracks. They were pulled by boxy diesel locomotives. My books, on the other hand, pictured streamlined diesels pulling the matching cars of passenger trains. The streamliners looked so modern. The clunky old prairie locomotives just plain lacked culture.

Thoughts from the Gadarene Cemetery

First, the disclaimer: I have yet to visit the holy land. I am not sitting among archeological tombs near the east shore of Galilee thinking about events that happened there long ago. Be that as it may, I have been studying the account of Jesus and the demon-possessed men who once lived in that cemetery. In comparing the records of three Gospels, I am struck by the fact that there were two demon-possessed men. Mark and Luke only tell of one. Matthew says there were two. Jesus obviously delivered both from the legion of evil spirits. Yet, the Scriptures almost ignore one of those men.

Tracks in the Woods

The summer forest is an easy place to hide. Small creatures duck out of sight in countless trees. Areas of dense underbrush shelter larger animals. As summer turns to fall and fall turns to winter, the situation seems to change. The leaves fall away revealing the heart of the forest. Then, snow comes and buries fallen leaves, old logs, stumps, and other hiding places. Somehow, a walk in the winter woods still fails to reveal much wildlife. Some creatures hibernate. Others congregate in sheltered areas. Some tunnel under the snow. The winter forest might even seem more deserted than the summer forest.

Trusting the Unseen

The training airplane’s large wing and light weight made for a rough ride in the unstable air. The Cessna 150 rocked, wobbled, and plunged through the sky. Each bounce jerked the plane from either its altitude or its course. While the turbulence hardly counted as dangerous, it gave a sixteen-year-old student pilot flying solo more challenge than he cared for. But the rough air wasn’t my worst problem that afternoon.

Yes, I Started It

I fell at work Friday. Actually, I fell on muddy gravel and put a very small hole in my left knee. But the fall and barely noticeable wound were nothing compared to the disaster I was trying to avert.

Your Car is on Fire!

We all fear sudden disaster. Whether it's a tornado dropping out of a night-time thunderstorm, an unpredicted earthquake, or a car darting across the center line, any number of things could unexpectedly ruin—or even end—our day. Even on a spiritual level, some people seem to think of the one big, unforgivable sin that would guarantee an eternity in the fires of hell. Sudden, unavoidable destruction scares us all.

This work is in the pubic domain and may be copied and distributed freely.


How to Have a Relationship with God

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