Dad Went Fishing

   OK, I just heard this from Bob while we were at a restaurant, but it’s just too funny to pass up. We don’t know where this happened, and we don’t know when… We just know it happened, and somewhere in Wyoming, there is a picture of this.
   Dad and a friend went river Trout fishing. They had traveled  out in  the rolling hills, and found a quiet place along the river. Preparations were under way. Fly fishing for Trout is no easy thing for a beginner. Dad was a beginner. He had been deep sea fishing for Drum and Barracuda, he had been fishing off the coasts of Ireland, and in beautiful lakes in Canada, and had done fine. Preparation for river Trout fly fishing included wearing some (what we call) ‘rubbers’. Actually the proper name is hip-waders. It’s what preachers wear when they are baptizing someone. Well dad figured he knew all about this, so he gingerly slipped on his waders, and tied them neatly at the waste. He forgot one thing… AIR. He had trapped air in the outfit. Anyway, he proceeds into the water, prepared for battle with the river Trout. All went well till he got out into the middle of the river, and then it happened. The air trapped in his waders started to make him float. The rocks were slippery, the current was fast, and his feet went out from under him, and he started floating down the river. Amazing things happen when dad goes fishing.


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Casting The First Stone

  Where was the man?! I mean ‘it takes two to tango’, and yet these “religious leaders” have already decided, he was not from God. They were stunned when the temple guards came back without him, saying, “No one ever spoke the way this man does” John 7:46. Their prejudice and jealousy was obvious, not interested in truth, or the One who brought it. They had to trap him, but he had somehow escaped all the other traps. This time they would put him in a position where he had either to inflame the Roman authorities or break the Law of Moses, and somehow loose the popularity he had gathered.
   Scriptures do not record  how they got this done, but perhaps they schemed with a man who knew of a woman who was unfaithful. To get her in the situation where they would come and catch her committing adultery. Who knows, but John 8:1-11 deals with this woman who is “caught in adultery”. They bring her (not the man) to trap Jesus. They knew the Law commanded that both were to be put to death, Leviticus 20:10, but they were not interested in that. They bring her to Jesus, and you can just see them all forming a cirle around the woman, and the confrontation with Jesus. “In the Law, Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” John 8:5
   Jesus bends down and begins writing in the ground with his finger. They kept on questioning him, (thinking they had him trapped), and he stood and asked them this question. “IF ANY OF YOU IS WITHOUT SIN, LET HIM BE THE FIRST TO THROW A STONE AT HER” John 8:7.  He bends down and continues writing in the ground, and while he does this, one by one the ones who brought her leave. “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” “No one, sir” she said. “Then neither do I condemn you” Jesus said. “Go now and leave your life of sin.” John 8:10-11.
   Is Jesus saying he was a sinner and that he could not have condemned her? Of course not. He knew what these religious leaders were trying to do. He knew their hearts and the heart of the woman. He does not condemn her which does not mean He condones adultery or any sin.
   Where do we go from here, the grace of God. Adultery, Jesus said, takes place in the heart of everyone who lusts after someone, Matthew 5:27-30. It takes place in the heart… Often we are more harsh on this than we are on other sins, but Jesus is not. He explains the Law on subjects like, murder, adultery, divorce, oaths, and vengeance in Matthew 5. Obviously God hates this and all sins, each having consequences, some being impossible to ‘un-do’ (like trying to unscramble an egg).
   Where does grace enter the picture? Well, grace is the picture when considering man’s sin, and the sacrifice of Jesus. This is why Jesus came, to provide the way of salvation where the life of sin can be put away. This is why you read in I Corinthians 6:9-11 “Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor male prostitutes, nor homosexual offenders, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” At first glance, you see that SLANDER is as bad as ADULTERY in the sence that both will keep one from inheriting the kingdom of God. The blood of Christ cleansed all these things and more. Obviously, when you start to pick up a stone and throw it, consider your own situation.
   Can these things be forgiven? Yes. What about Christians who sin? They are forgiven as well, by the same blood. Forgiveness is not just for the past. This does not condone abuse of grace, because that is getting close to falling away from Christ and being lost altogether. Grace simply means we receive something we don’t deserve, forgiveness. We don’t deserve it because we sin… before and after we come to Christ.
   In John 8 the leaders brought this woman to trap Jesus, but truth be told, they were as trapped as the woman was, they just refused to accept it. So are we, without Jesus. The outstanding feature of Jesus here and always, is His love for fallen man. His compassion, and concern. Jesus bent down and wrote on the ground and stood up and asked, “Where are your accusers?” According to Paul, there aren’t any, Romans 8:31-37. Praise god for His wonderful, great grace.


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What’s With The Clay Pot?


Clay Pot

“But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us” 2 Cor. 4:7

   A pot is a pot, right? Not necessarily. This one is dated 670AD, and is from Pre-Columbian times in Mexico. Probably used for water or something. It use to have decorations which can be seen if you look closely, but time and wind blown sand has done it’s work. It’s value now, we don’t really know.

   Paul, in 2 Corinthians 4:1-12 Paul speaks about a “ministry” and a “treasure” and “pots of clay”.  The treasure, the ministry of Jesus is given to us, not just to hold it. But of course to share with others. Don’t worry, the pot won’t go empty. It seems the more you share, the more you have. But there is more… because he repeats thoughts like “we do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord” and “the power is….not from ourselves”. The pot is only important as the container, it’s the content that’s important.  The power is from Jesus, living within. The “pot” may be, “hard pressed on every side”, “perplexed”, “persecuted”, “struck down”… The purpose of the pot is that “his life may be revealed in our mortal body”.

   Yes Paul spoke of himself, but the principle is clear and applies to us, that we are to “go into all the world and make disciples of every nation”. The best sermon, is truly the one we live. We are 21st century clay pots of God.


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Dear Father, Can We Talk?

   Have you ever had to try and change something on your phone service? You call, and the first thing you get is a recording of a man or a woman stating that “this is a new voice system and so they can direct your call to the right person please state why you called.” They give you several options. They ask for the number you are calling about. They repeat the number and ask is this the correct number, or they state, “oops, I didn’t understand that, can you repeat it?”Then you find out that the “lady” has transferred you to the wrong department, and you have to go through the whole thing over again, giving out your name, address and last four of your social security number. After going through that two or three times, your Christian virtue of patience is out the window.

   Well, what happens when we call on God in prayer? Happily, gratefully, David says in Psalms 86:7 ”In the day of my trouble I will call to you, for you will answer me.” It doesn’t matter about the time, Morning (Psa. 5:1-3; Mk. 1:35), Evening (Gen. 24:63), Always (Lk. 18:1; Rom. 1:10; I Thess. 5:17). Doesn’t matter where you are!!! In secret (Mt. 6:6), in bed (Psa. 63:6) , out in the open (Gen. 24:11-12), on the battlefield (Joshua 10:12-13), anywhere (I Tim. 2:8).

   We go through one man, who doesn’t ask questions, JESUS,

   ( I Tim. 2:5).  Through Jesus, direct to the Father…. and because of the Spirit who indwells us, He knows exactly what we need. WOW!


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The Rich Family In Our Church

   I’ll never forget on Sunday in 1946. I was 14, my little sister Ocy, 12, and Darlene was 16. We lived at home with our mother, and the we knew what it was like to do without.  Dad had died five years before, leaving mom with seven kids and no money. By 1946 my older brother and sister were married and had moved out.

   A month before, the preacher announced,  a special offering would be taken to help a poor family. He asked everyone to save and give sacrificially. When we got home we talked together of what we could do. We decided to buy 50 pounds of potatoes and live on them for a month. This would allow us to save $20.00. Then we turned off the electric lights as much as possible, and didn’t listen to the radio,  to save money on our electric bill.  Darlene got as many house and yard cleaning jobs as she could, and both of us babysat for everyone we could. For 15 cents we could make 3 pot holders and sell them for a dollar. We made $20.00 on pot holders.

   That month was one of the best of our lives. Every day we counted the money to see how much we had saved. At night we imagined how the poor family was going to enjoy having the money the church would give them.

   The day before the “big day”, Ocy and I walked to the grocery store and got three $20.00 bills and one $10.00 bill for our change. We ran home with more money than we had ever had in our hands. That night we could hardly sleep as we waited to go to church on Sunday.

   When the offering was taken, mom put $10.00 in the plate and each of us put in $20.00.  After church, we went home where mom surprised us with boiled eggs to eat with our fried potatoes.

   Late that afternoon, the minister came and spoke with Mom. When he left, she showed us what he gave her. It was the envelope with the money from the church, $77.00. We all just sat there and just stared at the floor. We had gone from feeling rich to feeling like we were poor.

   On Saturday, mom asked us what we wanted to do with the money. We didn’t know. We had never known we were poor. We certainly didn’t want to go back to church, but mom made us go. It was sunny, everyone was singing in church… but us.

   We had a missionary who talked about how churches in Africa made buildings out of sun-dried bricks, but they needed money to buy roofs. He said that $100.00 would put a roof on one church building.  The minister said, “Can’t we sacrifice to help these poor people?” We looked at each other and smiled for the first time in a week. Mom reached in her purse and pulled out the envelope. She passed it to Darlene. Darlene gave it to me and I handed it to Ocy, and Ocy put it in the offering. The minister counted the offering and it was just over $100.00. The missionary was excited because he had not expected that from a small church. He said, “You must have some rich people in this church.”

  Suddenly it struck us! We had given $77.00 of that “little over a $100” given. We were the rich family in the church. From that day on I have never been poor again. I know I am rich in Jesus.  (Mark 12:41-44).


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The Price Has Already Been Paid

   Just think a moment about all the bad that has been done, for whatever reason, or motive. Be it anger, jealousy, lust, greed, unnatural desires, irreverence or just down-right hate … Think about all the tears, and blood that has been shed in the name of religion or racial hatred. Think of all the wars and conflicts fought over the centuries. Think of all the pain and suffering of the born, the aborted, young people and old alike. It all comes down to one basic cause, sin.

   Few in schools of higher learning call it what it is. Those who study the workings of the mind often call it something else, maybe a sickness to be treated with pills. Yet the Bible is straight forward about it… Man’s biggest problem is sin. People laugh at it, ignore it, brag about it, and Hollywood glorifies it. Laws are passed to try and get rid of it by making it acceptable and normal.

   God’s word simply speaks of it as sin. In the original language of scriptures, it means to “miss the mark”. Doesn’t sound so bad, right? Everyone “misses the mark”, right? Even the bible says “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:23. Yet this does not take care of the problem. Never did, and never will.

   Man has tried to balance the books with God for a long time. Yet the books just don’t balance. We are forever in debt and have no way to pay it.

   The story is told of a Russian Czar who disguised himself and mingled with his soldiers. One soldier, deep in debt, had made a list of all that he owed. His loaded revolver lay beside him, but in his anxiety, he had fallen asleep. At the end of the list he had scribbled the words, “Who could pay so much?” Later he woke up and was startled to see the personal signature of the Czar, “Alexander” and his personal seal next to the question he had scribbled at the end of his list.

   If we each sat down and wrote a list of all the things we had done, in anger, hatred, jealousy, despair, lust, how long would that list be? You run a red light, and get a ticket, go down and pay the amount levied against you at to Court House, and they stamp it “Paid in full”. Ok, so how do you do that with sin? What are the wages (earned price) of sin? Paul says in Romans 6:23 “For the payoff (wages) of sin is death…”

   So what is all this about? It is about Jesus. It’s all about Jesus. He was destined to do something for mankind which he could not and cannot do for himself. He came to provide a way out of the penalty of sin. “Who could pay so much?” Paul says, “For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. (For rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person, perhaps someone might possibly dare to die). 8 But God demonstrates His own love for us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:6-8 (NET) DEATH BY CRUCIFIXION… closely portrayed in the movie “The Passion of Christ”, is hard to watch. Yet it was all for you and me, unworthy sinners.

   Sin cannot be paid for by works. Salvation is a gift, not to be treated lightly. The price paid for the gift should tell us that. Faith, repentance and immersion (Acts 2:37-39) in no way earns the gift… because it is priceless. When we obey His commands, we are surrendering to Him, and calling out to Him to save us.  Bottom line… THE PRICE HAS BEEN ALREADY PAID.


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The Bruise, The Badge, And The Christian

   Growing up was fun, but hard at times. I can’t tell you how many times I would come running in the house crying because I was cut, banged up, or bruised. I guess it is just a part of growing up. We lived in Dallas, was 12 years old and football was ‘in the air’. We had a neighborhood gang of kids (that’s back when being a part of a gang wasn’t bad) and we’d all gather at the school yard and play flag football. Flag football was looked down on because we wanted to do the real thing. We used the flags anyway because our parents wouldn’t allow the rough style of football. Then it happened… I was tackled, went down hard on my shoulder, and was hurt. I can’t figure what got pulled but the next day my shoulder was red, black and blue (almost patriotic). Of course mom forbid football for a while.

   When I went back to school and showed off my bruise during PE (Physical Education), I found I was like a celebrity. Everyone wanted to see the bruise. It was my ‘badge’. “This is kinda worth the pain”, but I was a kid then.

   Christianity is not a game, although there is some growing up to do, and Christians get ‘banged up’ in the process. It’s not easy, because the main battle is with yourself. Jesus says, “count the cost” Luke 14:25-33. Bottom line is that when a person becomes a Christian, He wants to be #1 in life. Is it worth the pain to be a Christian?  Go figure. Jesus suffered and died… was it worth it?  Salvation is priceless. Nothing takes the place of forgiveness for the sinful heart. Nothing feels better than guilt being lifted at Calvary.

   Is ‘the way’ of the Christian hard? Is it worth it? Peter said in 1 Peter 3:14-17 “But in fact , if you happen to suffer for doing what is right, you are blessed. But do not be terrified of them or be shaken.  15 But set Christ apart as Lord in your hearts and always be ready to give an answer to anyone who asks about the hope you possess.

   The Christian’s badge is not how often he attends church, or how much he gives, but how far he goes, in spite of the difficulties. Finish the ‘race’. You don’t have to be first… just finish, (2 Timothy 4:6-8).


   Hast thou no scar? On foot or side or hand?

   I hear thee sung as mighty in the land.

   I hear them hail thy bright ascendant star –

   Hast thou no scar?

   Hast thou no wound? Yet I was wounded by the archers spent –

   Leaned me against a tree to die and rent,

   Like raven beast – they compassed me. I swooned –

   Hast thou no wound?

   No wound, no scar? Yet as the Master shall the servants be.

   And pierced are the feet that follow Me. But thine are whole!

   Could he have followed very far,

   who hast no wound, no ugly scar?


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“Sticks And Stones May Break My Bones, But Words Will Never Hurt Me”

   That just is not true! We said it when we were kids to get back at someone who was calling us names. We had other sayings like, “I’m rubber, you’re glue, whatever you say bounces off me and sticks on you.”  Sometimes we would just laugh it off, or make up another name and try and out-do the name caller. Just part of growing up in those days I guess. Tell you the truth, the words, the names, all hurt.

   We aren’t made of rubber, and words don’t  bounce off… they go right to the heart. People still say things that hurt others deeply, by using cruel epithets and racial slurs, sarcasm. The “Yo mamma” jokes get a laugh, but sometimes they are just mean and rude.  Words may not break bones, but they can still hurt. “I take it back”, we used to say, but we knew then, we know now, that can’t be done. I remember mom getting out the bar of Palmolive soap, and my toothbrush, to ‘wash my mouth out; after saying something bad. I know it doesn’t ‘wash it out’ and once you say something, you can’t un-say-it? The verbal bullying that goes on in schools, is often learned at home. Columbine stands as a sad memorial to what happens as a result of ‘words’.

   “It’s just words” you say, but there is so much more. Jesus in Matthew 15:1-20 confronts the Pharisees and teachers of the law who were concerned about His disciples not washing their hands before they ate. (These were the religious ‘nit-pickers’ of the day.) Jesus accuses them of hypocrisy, because they were more concerned for external actions, than the heart. “Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you: These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men.” Then Jesus calls the crowd to him and explained… “LISTEN AND UNDERSTAND. WHAT GOES INTO A MAN’S MOUTH DOES NOT MAKE HIM ‘UNCLEAN’, BUT WHAT COMES OUT OF HIS MOUTH , THAT IS WHAT MAKES HIM ‘UNCLEAN’.”

   James says, “My dear brothers, take note of this. Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to become angry. James 1:19 “If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, deceives himself and his religion is worthless.” James 1:26. Then he speaks of the dangers of  the tongue in chapter 3, using illustrations of a horses bit, a boat rudder, fire and dangerous animals. How can it be, that with the same tongue that we praise God with, we curse man? How can we use this ‘instrument’ in prayer and adoration to God on Sunday, and use it to curse and swear, tell dirty jokes, on Monday through Saturday?

   The encouraging thing about all this is, if we clean our hearts, it will ‘wash our mouth out’. It may take time, but it will be time well spent. There are a lot of discouraged people out there, that just need a kind word, an encouragement, a sincere compliment. Try it.


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