Tuesday, February 23, 2016


My friend was asked, “What are you giving up for Lent?”  Without hesitation, he quipped, “Alcohol, chocolate and three putts!”

Lent is designed to arouse contrition and then encourage our embrace of repentance. Presbyterians are not big on Lenten discipline. We like leniency! The point of contrition is to mitigate our pride, not eliminate our hope.

The philosopher, Alfred North Whitehead said, “Religion is what people do with their solitude.”
Solitude is where you have it out.
Solitude is where you decide the basic issues of life.
Solitude is where you decide how to prioritize your relationships. 
Solitude is where you decide that your life is not a possession to be hoarded but a gift to be shared.
Solitude is where you decide on self-preservation or self-sacrifice.

Such discoveries do not come easily but only after long, arduous wrestling with evil. Evil is always experienced as an intensely personal power. We are often attacked at the point of our freedom. The advice is always subtle and the same; I’ll tell you what to do with your freedom  -  sell it!  Sell out to materialism, money, sex, power, prestige, greed, lust or popularity.

The Psalmist said, “Be still and know that I am God.”

Henri Nouwen put it this way, “Compassion is the fruit of solitude.”


Tuesday, February 16, 2016

"Internal Change"

Lent is the forty-day holy season of repentance and renewal preceding Easter. Lent began last week on Ash Wednesday and will end on March 27 with Easter Sunday. It is a special period in the church year for meditation, prayer and penitential practices. The intent is to increase our understanding of Christ’s sacrifice and resurrection.

Penitential practices have included fasting and self-denial in order to enlarge our understanding of the full meaning of Holy Week.

Joan gave up coffee creamer for Lent. By the end of the tenth day, she began to love black coffee.  She said, “That’s the year I learned that it isn’t giving up things that counts. Me? I became aware that only internal change really counts.”

Lent reminds me that falling down at Jesus’ feet is my top priority. That act of humility points me to my true identity in Christ. Then, renunciation of all substitute identities – masks, facades or contrived behavior – fall into proper perspective.

The antidote to our daily bombardment of deadlines, travel, family pressure, traffic, layoffs, addictions, aging and grief - place it all at the feet of Jesus.

II Corinthians 12:9 puts it, “My grace is sufficient for you all and my strength is made perfect in weakness.”


Friday, February 5, 2016

"Six Weeks of Lent"

Six suggestions for the six weeks of Lent:

First week:    Text, email or write a note to a friend and tell that person how much you appreciate their friendship.
Second week:   Call two people daily that you have not contacted recently to catch up, say thank you
   or I’m sorry.
Third week:   Take a gift you have made or bought to a friend to whom you need to express your love.  Make it simple – a plant, a book, a pie, an apron – a tangible expression of your love.
Fourth week:  Make a list of five people for whom you will pray daily.  Include family, friends, and critics.  If they have wronged you – forgive them, and ask forgiveness if you have wronged them.
Fifth week:     Recall Christ’s suffering and pray that you might be more Christ-like in your attitudes and practices.
Sixth week:    Jesus said, “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.”  John 10:10  It is time for a celebration.  In Jesus Christ, we are practitioners of hope.  Share the joy of new life in Christ.


Tuesday, February 2, 2016

"A Disney Experience"

Linda and I really enjoy our four grandsons. When they turn five years old, they get a trip to Disney World.  Bo just turned five years old, so we took him to the Magic Kingdom. No parents. Just Bo with us.

To experience Disney’s genius through the eyes of a five year old is great fun. When the Disney bus picked us up at the Orlando Airport, he laughed out loud at the cartoon’s being played on the bus. The creative meals for children he really enjoyed. He ordered a fruit cup with his baked salmon. Not once did he pursue macaroni and cheese with chicken nuggets. He ate like a champ!

Bo never tired of visiting Big Al at the Country Jamboree and the Pirates of the Caribbean. He laughed out loud at the Philharmagic with Mickey Mouse all in 3D. He rode the carrousel, Dumbo the Flying Elephant, and the Mad Tea Party three times until his grandmother was dizzy!

It rained the whole time we were there, but that never deterred Bo. He walked out of It’s a Small World singing the song, which he had never heard before. He laughed out loud at the birds in the Tiki Room. At 8 p.m. the sky lit up with booming fireworks. To which his response to all the sensory stimulation was thrilling for his old grandfather.

The last day, still raining, we concluded our adventure at the Plaza Ice Cream Parlor. He had never experienced a coke float. Why not? His mother will never know. He polished it off including the whipped cream on top. Yes, he was kind of hyper for the next couple of hours – and I enjoyed watching it all happen. After he picked out a new Teddy Bear for himself and some gifts for his brother, he was content to head home.

I am thankful for Linda – what a great grandmother. I am thankful for four terrific grandsons. I am also thankful for God’s gift of creativity instilled in Walt Disney.