Thursday, May 25, 2017


“Here, take a picture.”

“Okay. You want me to put it on the blog this week?”


Friends come to the family farm to pet the goats and chickens. We try to keep all members of the animal kingdom out of the pool area except for humans, cats, and dogs, but … there’s the occasional random frog … Chickie-poo, may she rest in peace in the big chicken coop in the sky, free of coyotes, hawks, and hungry pigs … Rufus the Pool Goat … and then sometimes children come walking up from the barn, each one carrying a chicken.

You get a chicken … and you get a chicken … everyone gets a chicken!

I really need to get on with writing a series of children’s books. Chickie-poo’s tale needs a fictional ending, as the reality of her demise is too violent for a G rating.


Things don’t always go the way we would like. Some would even say rarely. As a general rule in life I hate surprises, but I do like putting my music on shuffle. You end up with gems like this …

I think the official title is “Belgian Frenzy”? I’m grateful to the artist, who burned a copy of an out of print CD for my sister, complete with bonus material, to replace her aging cassette tape. Eighties Christian rap. It’s stellar.

The surprising thing lately I suppose is that there haven’t really been any surprises. I told a friend the other day I’m profoundly bored. There are stories behind that statement not for public consumption, but the phrase accurately describes my current mood.

Or, as the college girls are apparently saying these days …

“I’m profoundly bored.”


And no, I don’t want to join your network marketing company. I’m happy with the one I’m with.

I don’t particularly need anyone to fix me by knowing what I need or what I need to be doing either. I’m good.

I’m pretty sure God can handle me saying I’m profoundly bored. I mean, in this season he’s provided a big stack of books for me to read, family to look after, and interesting skies to stare at.

Also culinary skills..

And a little girl at the farm – just the other day, at a surprise party of all things – enthralled by my stories of playing in the pasture as a child.

“The electric fence was higher then, so we would scoot under it and go play. We’d pick daisies and Queen Anne’s lace for our moms. And we’d collect hickory nuts that fell off a tree up that direction. And when a tornado blew a huge tree over by the creek – and it still lived for a couple years – we’d play in there like we were in the middle of a forest. When you’re in the pasture, though, you have to watch out for the bull and you have to watch out for cow patties. Do you know what a cow patty is?”


“It’s cow poop.”

There are few things better than children’s laughter.

That book series probably needs to have a volume about the cow pasture.

For now I have more skies to stare at …

Keep looking up


Thursday, May 18, 2017

Aggressive Forgiveness

Eugene Peterson hits it out of the park again. Well, Eugene Peterson and the Apostle Paul. As I am prone to do, I flipped over to the Message version of the passage being discussed amongst ourselves at each table last night.

“But sin didn’t, and doesn’t, have a chance in competition with the aggressive forgiveness we call grace. When it’s sin versus grace, grace wins hands down. All sin can do is threaten us with death, and that’s the end of it. Grace, because God is putting everything together again through the Messiah, invites us into life—a life that goes on and on and on, world without end.”
~ Romans 5:20-21 MSG

Aggressive forgiveness! Who uses words like that!?!

Aggressive forgiveness = grace.

Some purists raise their eyebrows (or have a spazz attack) over the Message translation, reminding us all that it’s a paraphrase, not a literal translation of the original text. Okay, so it was translated phrase by phrase, passage by passage. That doesn’t turn the whole shebang into some gnostic gospel.

Here’s the deal. I was raised on King James in a small-to-medium size country church, transitioning into New International Version in my later teen years. The church’s graduation gift to all the high school seniors was a parallel KJV-NIV bible. I wore the spine out of that thing.

Today with apps on our phones we can flip at will between the five hundred kazillion English translations. And lots of non-English. I can flip over to the Toma bible friends have been working on for decades. Which I did of course, except Romans doesn’t exist yet in written form per my app, so I chose a different book just for kicks. I don’t have a clue. I doubt I’ll ever learn Toma, but you never know.

In the bible translation world and in the sphere of world missions, we talk about unreached people needing a bible translation in their “heart language”. Heart language. So maybe there’s a national standardized language, the language of commerce and higher education. In a lot of places you might not expect, that might even be English, just from colonial and/or global economy influences. But there might be many local dialects much more comfortably spoken and understood by those who grew up with them.

How are people supposed to have a fighting chance at hearing and responding to the gospel if it doesn’t exist in a form they can understand? I don’t have the stats handy, but they’re out there on how many languages have no written or even oral translation of the bible. There are many. Cell phones and sim cards have done great things for oral translations. If your tribe speaks a language that doesn’t even have a written form (oh it’s a thing), not having to create that written form and then establish a literacy program can shave years off the translation process.

So back to the Message. All translations have their issues. Ask me sometime about my favorite pet peeve in the KJV versus NIV. If you prefer the Queen’s English, have at it. NIV was a vast improvement in many ways. Much more understandable for the everyman. I feel like the Message gets at our heart language, though. That was Eugene Peterson’s intent – to make the language and the idioms and such more meaningful in today’s English.

The choo-choo of Romans 5. Our table passed the test.

Imagine if the Apostle Paul got off a plane at LAX. Do you think maybe he’d profess the gospel while speaking fluent Valley Girl?

All things to all people. While preserving the truth.

You can say the words, but are they meaningful to the audience?

We talk about grace, but I wonder if we really get it.

Or if the word “grace” is code for “Religious nut speaking. Please ignore.”

Aggressive forgiveness.

Willingly suffering a gruesome death on a cross so you don’t have to.

So you can be forgiven.

For anything and everything.

That’s pretty aggressive.

Keep looking up.

Thursday, May 11, 2017


Behold the sky today. And perhaps my mood. I told a friend the other day I had a bad attitude about something. They told me I was wrong. Perhaps. Or perhaps ... in my best Jon Lovitz voice … acting!

Speaking of bad attitudes, I’ve already unfollowed one friend this week based solely on the number of shrieky, rabid political articles popped into my newsfeed by their liking and reacting to them. Sorry, sweetheart, I couldn’t take it anymore.

The biggest surprise might be that it’s only been one friend.

Wow, people are hot.

And not in a good, Chris Evans way hot.

Maybe I should start a duct tape ministry. You know, distribute the solution to everything so people can wrap their heads in it … to keep their heads from exploding. Or at least contain the fallout. ‘Cause heads are exploding all over the place.

Such hatred. Such targeting of anyone who dares express an opposing opinion. All by people who think they know. They are just so sure they know. They know everything about everything. And they just know that anyone who doesn’t think exactly the same as them is full of hatred.

Oops, we have an update. Breaking news! The unfollows are up to two. Honestly, people, take a breath or three or eighteen and think for a minute. Is it true? Is it worth your time? Is it worth the relationships you risk by hanging your hat on it? Is it worth the rise in your blood pressure? Not everyone wants to be around Angry Chicken Little, duct-taped head or not.

I’ve seen those who claim to have a corner on the market when it comes to tolerance use the ugliest of language and tactics to attack those who disagree with them on a political issue. Sure, policy matters and ultimately can affect our daily lives. Slippery slopes are slippery. But maybe actually read things, drill down to original research instead of having a conniption over someone’s flimsy report on it, and for the love of all that is holy rewatch Schoolhouse Rock’s “I’m Just a Bill” before you declare the sky is falling.

I challenge you to step back and check your social media. Look at what you have shared. Go to your activity log (from your Facebook timeline) and see what you liked and commented on – for public posts, all your friends can see your reactions and comments. You might even be popping those articles into their newsfeeds with all your clicking. Consider the message you’re sending. For those who consider themselves followers of Jesus … do you love God and love people? All people? Do you look and sound like it?

Now on to far more important matters. Disclaimer  -- I have not drilled down to the original research article on this one, so I’m not staking my scientific credentials on it. Seriously, it is so important to check your sources because sometimes the original research article reveals something ridiculous like grand scientific conclusions based on seventeen subjects with no control group. Please. Come back when you understand scientific method. The amount of bogus science out there is disturbing and often seems to be multiplying like something in a petri dish.

But I digress.

My people, I have found the ultimate workout plan that is going to take your results up a few notches and solve all of your problems. It was reported this week that swearing may make you stronger! Just think of it … we could set up a whole chain of gyms based on the concept. Perhaps even contract with the local priest to set up a confessional at the exit. Oh the possibilities.

Perhaps the current societal climate can be summed up in one phrase. In the tradition of the artist formerly (and then again later) known as Prince, a symbol even. We’ve been digging into the book of Romans on Wednesday nights, and as we review each week, I hear the description of chapter 1 in a loud, booming movie trailer voice …

The … downward … spiral … of … human … depravity!

Human depravity!

Downward spiral!

We’re so oblivious.

In so many ways.

It all looks hopeless.

Except in light of heaven.

I think I need to read some Ecclesiastes.

Keep looking up.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Zombie Apocalypse

Zombies. Zombies everywhere.

I’ve always said in the event of a zombie apocalypse that I’m hiding behind my nephew. He read some book about zombie survival techniques, plus he is trained in the ways of tae kwon do and o-line.

Given the scale of these zombies I probably have nothing to worry about.

My three-year-old cousin overpowering zombies during the Sunday sermon.

Artist's zombie rendition. And a random limb.

Along the lines of zombies … lemmings. All humans have lemming tendencies at times. It’s true. Social media makes it super obvious. Everyone please remember to check your snopes. If we would all do this, we could be informed before we post things like asking for prayer for the US Darkhorse dealio, the toddler who nailed himself with a brad nailer, and Brad Comer’s cancer battle. Far be it from me ever to discourage anyone from praying – have at it, I’m highly in favor of prayer and practice it all the time – but, kids, all of these events occurred several years ago. Years. Brad Comer succumbed to his cancer in February 2011. It’s 2017.

Ooooh. What would zombie lemmings be like?

We interrupt our normally scheduled post for a game of …

Duck …

Duck …

Oh! Sorry, no goose. Just ducks. Well one duck I caught on camera.
Speaking of uncooperative wildlife and entities … the Sync lady! Whilst on shuffle, my aged iPod played me “Try” by Asher Book, from the movie musical “Fame”. Wanting to relive the experience a week or two later, I asked Sync lady to, “Play track Try.” She obstinately keeps playing “Thrive” by Switchfoot. Fine, “Play artist Asher Book.” She played Usher. Which is not a bad thing, except when you want to hear Asher Book. “Play album Fame” resulted in Michael W. Smith’s “The Stand”. Also not a bad thing,


Showtunes, people! And scrolling through to cue that baby up manually isn’t particularly safe while driving.


These rail cars are epic. Zoom in. You'll see.

As we continue to hurtle around the sun at whatever ridiculous speed, sometimes things get out of control. Sometimes the proverbial cliché door closes and an equally cliché window opens. Earlier this week I had a door close kind of curiously. A couple of possible reasons come to mind. Lesser mortals might be offended, but silver lining! There’s no major divine intervention here beyond the usual … and it’s not some life changing thing … let’s just call it a deux d’un coup that freed up some time and allowed me to do a Pontius Pilate washing of my hands for a bit. With a Mona Lisa smile. While I Sabbath a little.

Keep looking up.