Archive | January 2015



It was so easy to tell this was a house where Death had come. There were numerous cars lining the country driveway, most with out-of-state license plates. People were coming and going, obviously bringing food and seeking to help. The elderly man who had passed away was several states removed from the place of his birth.

Not long before the viewing on the evening before the funeral, the doorbell rang. On the stoop stood two middle-aged men, dressed nicely, wearing somber expressions. I looked at their faces, and immediately said “I don’t know who you are, but you are obviously near relatives of my father!” The resemblance was amazing, to be a generation removed.

It reminded me of a time when our youngest son was less than a year old. A visitor at church had dropped off his little daughter, and entered the sanctuary. After the service I heard someone greet him, and as he spoke, he added, “I don’t know anything about that baby boy in the nursery, but I can tell you, that was his father up in the choir!” He was right.

That type of comment makes one realize that as we go into the world, calling ourselves Christians, people look at us but do not know us at all. Yet when they see our face, can they tell that we belong to God? We should have such a close relationship to Him that it shows in our face. In Acts 4:13 Peter and John were preaching, and confounding many. Luke writes, “Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated and untrained men, they marveled. And they realized that they [Peter and John] had been with Jesus.” The association was obvious in their faces.

Proverbs 13:20 reminds us how important it is that we choose our friends carefully: “He who walks with wise men will be wise, But the companion of fools will be destroyed.” It is our testimony and our reputation that is at stake when we run with fools. God is not glorified, and Christ is not honored. One apple, the Bible says, will rot the whole bag! One potato, left in that plastic bag on the floor, will soon ruin the good potatoes that it touched.

This new year has hardly begun, but it’s not too late to get a relationship with God back where it should be. If you’re afraid to set the alarm, pray that God will wake you 15 minutes early, so you can read His word before leaving for work. And when He does, since you have prayed, get up, get your coffee or Coke, and spend some time with Him.

The biggest thrill of your life should be that you hear someone say, “That man has to be a Christian–he looks just like what I’ve imagined Jesus to look like!” Wouldn’t that be something wonderful?

Father, You truly are our father. When we’ve had earthly dads who have disappointed us, we have sometimes given those attributes to You. Or when things didn’t go the way we thought, we blamed You. Help us to see through the pain and troubled times that You are a constant companion, loving and kind, doing the best for us. Help us spend so much time talking to You, Father, that we begin to look like You. In Christ Jesus, Amen

© Arnon Ayal | Dreamstime Stock Photos



The books were right there, laying on top of the piano where I had left them the afternoon before when I arrived home from school.  I distinctly remembered  having every intention of studying, but then I pulled out the piano bench to learn “The Peer Gynt Suite” by Edvard Grieg! Where had my mind been?? SAT’s would start today! Of all evenings to have gotten a little extra cramming in, last night was the one! Trig was killing me, and physics was right behind it! Sigh. Why do some people have it so easy, while others have to work so hard for a C? Not fair! Picking the books by up, I headed out the door, already feeling the noose around my neck.

The classroom wasn’t crowded, so the teacher separated us in order to cut down on the ability to cheat. There were no cell phones in those days, and calculators or open books were not allowed in the room. Also, this teacher was a hawk: he didn’t miss an eyeball drifting sideways. I looked down at the paper, and the first problem might have been in Greek. Against the rules of the test (do each one in order), I went to the next–wow! Easy! So I zipped through the pages answering the ones I could, then going back to the ones that needed more brain time. Meanwhile, the brainy students were going one by one.

A month later the trigonometry teacher stepped into the English class and asked for attention. He gave the results of those who had scored highest in all areas. Then he stopped. “In Math, although I have no idea how she did it, considering she is failing trig, Sandy Day scored the highest.” Thank you, Mr. Whatever (his name is erased from my memory bank.) (Intentionally, probably).  I knew right then I had figured out how to take tests: go quickly through the ones you know, then go back to the harder questions. Granted, there are probably rules that prohibit doing this now in the technological age, but at that time it worked well.

No one has to be a Rocket Scientist to know that life is full of tests. Only the naive think that when they get out of school, tests will be over! The test for your driver’s license, college classes, balancing checkbooks, having quarterly reviews at work, making the outgo and the income equal out–at least in some respects,–all of those and millions more are tests. It’s definitely not exaggerating to say that each day we have tests in some form or the other. If you have kids, you have testing. If you are married, you have testing.

Recently, I found a different test–one laid out in Scripture put there by the hand of God. I wasn’t looking for it, but this, still able to be called the being the beginning of a new year, is a good time to do a self-examination, or test. I was reading Psalm 15, and was immediately impacted by the question the psalmist asked in prayer: “God, who may dwell with You in Your holy place?” (My paraphrase). And then he gets his answer: anyone who lives a blameless life (wow, can anyone do that?); who walks in righteousness; who refuses to engage in conversation that is slandering to another person; who does not listen to gossip; who does not harm his neighbor; who speaks out against sin; who criticizes those who are committing the sin (that doesn’t go down well in this age of “tolerance,” does it?); who commends (and encourages) those who are faithfully following the Lord; who keeps a promise even if it ruins him; who does not extract the highest interest rate he can get by with, thereby putting a burden too heavy to bear on those he lends money to; who refuses to testify against an innocent person even if he is bribed heavily to do so—this man will stand firm forever. Whoa!! Those are the goals of someone who wants to serve God with his entire life. This obviously was not a test where one could say, “That one is easy, that one I’ll come back to, that one I’ll never figure out,” etc.!

It is easy to see that those are the standards of someone who must have a close and wonderful relationship with the Creator God! It is, as Paul writes in the book of Romans, the reason that the commandments point us to Jesus. Just looking at that list, and then seeing where you “test” out against each one of those attributes, tempts us to throw up our hands and quit trying. That’s why we need a Savior. If there were a chain with thick heavy links holding you to God, and each link was one of the commandments, or one of those characteristics in Psalm 15, how many would it take to break chain holding you to God? Only one. Someone had to pay the price for us, or no-one would be dwelling with God in that holy place!

Hallelujah, there was Someone who was able to pay that price, live up to the standard God had set, and then paid the debt that we could never pay. Yes, He lets us sin, and no, He doesn’t like it when we do. But if your child disobeys, and then is truly repentant, you are ready to forgive. So is God. Let’s try for a “Well done, good and faithful servant,” when we stand before Him, having passed His test!

O God, how we can relate to the psalmist as he cried out, “Who can abide with You?!” We see our failings–and I confess, Lord, that I am not always sorry the moment I fail You–and feel we can never be good enough.  Then I realize how badly I need Your grace, and Your forgiveness. Help me–and others–draw near to You, so that You will draw near to us. Thank You for Your grace, Lord God, and for Jesus Christ. Amen


© Simon Lawrence | Dreamstime Stock Photos