On Seeing Skippy

I watched the birth of my granddaughter "Skippy" on the screen of a smartphone yesterday. Actually, I read the birth of my granddaughter on the screen of a smartphone yesterday.  While Kathy, my eldest daughter, and her husband Steve were enduring the marathon of the miracle, my wife MariAnne and I and Kathy's dear friend Sarah were anxiously staggering the floor of the waiting room. It was a long and far more torturous event than I had imagined. I am thankful that compared to the old days when you waited restlessly for someone to come through the door announcing "It's a boy!" or "It's a girl!", Steve was doing us a great kindness by sending us updates by text every half hour. I would then relay what I knew to my daughter, Lauren, in Honduras.
            After twenty-seven hours of the usual childbirth progression or, at times, the lack thereof, the texts took a rather serious and urgent twist. The baby's heart rate was dropping. There w…

With God in the Desert

"The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad; the desert shall rejoice and blossom like the crocus; it shall blossom abundantly and rejoice with singing... Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped, and the lame man shall leap like a deer, and the tongue of the mute will sing for joy." Isaiah 35
This morning, I sat outside and read my Bible. It was early but the sky was already blue, the sun was shining, and it was warm. The European Starlings sang and chirped as they dashed about getting food for their little ones, occasionally stopping to rest at the top of the neighbour's orange tree. That tree is laden with oranges hanging like Christmas tree ornaments. That is about all that is reminiscent of Christmas. This is a snow-free zone where winter is forbidden. Despite my allergy to bee stings, I observed, with genuine pleasure, the busyness of bees gathering nectar from blossoms atop the cactus' (cacti?). What a wonder to me that bees…

Baby Names

In a few months, my daughter and son-in-law, Kathy and Steve, are expecting their first child. To say that we are all excited about this little one's arrival is an understatement. I can't wait to meet Skippy. Yep, you heard right: Skippy! Okay, maybe that is not the name that they have chosen for their daughter. However, it is the one that I have selected. Back when they were searching for a name, I called Kathy and told them that I had come up with one. It dawned on me as I was eating my toast and peanut butter at breakfast: Skippy! All I heard was an all too familiar groan on the other end of the line. I have been informed that as well thought out as my recommendation was, it would not be the baby's name.
            I love Skippy. Even before she is born, before she has accomplished the inevitable achievements that her rich family heritage guarantees, before the Nobel Prize and the Rhodes Scholarship, I love her. Okay, admittedly, Skippy is most likely a fitting na…

Why Destroying Christian Symbols Won't Work

God wants His people to have strong encouragement. Particularly, when the mission of the church to spread the Kingdom of the Lord Jesus is met with aggressive hostility, God wants His people to know for certain that He has got this. His resolve remains unchanged. His plan will not fail. Our hope for the future is rock solid.
            The church, historically, has gone through extensive periods of hardship and opposition. Right from the get-go, it was understood that the way of Jesus was going to be radically counter to the patterns and priorities of every culture into which Christianity would be sent. We would not get a warm welcome. Our Christian mission began with these words of Jesus: "In this world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world."[1] Jesus told his disciples quite frankly, "If the world hates you, know that it hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own but because you are not of…

Carpe Diem - Squeeze the Moment

(my early morning drive) "Everyday, I will bless you and praise your name forever and ever." (Psalm145:2)

            As many of you know, my wife, MariAnne, and I have been on sabbatical and are in a period of seeking the Lord for our future. We are determined to live by faith and to trust the Lord for His direction and His provision. Learning to be obedient daily to the Lord outside of a "normal" routine continues to be a blessed discipline. One of my prayers has been to be alert and available so as to "seize the moment" to serve when God opens an opportunity for me to bless one person at a time. As you might expect, almost always, it works the other way around. God opens up opportunities to serve others and I end up leaving the conversation or meeting with my heart full of thanks. Who is serving who? Who is blessing who? Living attentively by the Spirit is like those "take your kids to work" days. God the Father is taking me, his son, to work w…

Paris and the Propaganda of Terror

If there is anything that is clear, it is that Islamic extremists know how to use the media. In a few weeks, America's largest corporations will pay 4.5 million dollars for every thirty second commercial during the grand extravaganza called the Superbowl. A few weeks later, the Superbowl will be history and the news reports will return to the stories of violence, horror, and the increasing terrorist threat facing Europe, America, Africa, and well, most of the world. What the cruel fanatics know is that every time and every place that they manage to perpetrate some heinous act, they get free air time for hours, days, and weeks on the major news networks of the world. It is free for them. Well, it only costs blood. They pay for their airtime with the lives of people in coffee shops in Australia and grocery stores in Paris. They pay for it with the supposedly expendable lives of the dupes that they have brainwashed into believing that their acts of self-destructive violence som…

Technology - I Won't Let You Down

In the summer of 2008, I attended a lecture on artificial intelligence and Christian faith at Cambridge University. At the C.S. Lewis Conference's annual Summer Institutes, Nigel Cameron of Washington's Center for Policy on Emerging Technology gave us a cursory glimpse of some of the fast-developing advancements in the field of A.I.  His primary purpose was to introduce and to explain a few of the real and challenging ethical dilemmas that these technologies were posing for researchers, academic institutions, and political bodies. For those of us who were on the outside looking in, it was almost a bit surreal. First, the technologies that were already being developed sounded like they were coming out of a sci-fi novel. It was hard to believe that we would see some of these things in our lifetime. However, we were told and we are now seeing that technology is advancing far faster than most of our imaginations. Second, and probably for the reason that the advancements seemed so…

Shark Tank Spirituality

Every once in a while, my wife and I like to watch a television show called "Shark Tank". It is a hugely popular program in which a panel of wealthy business men and women listen to the sales pitches of "budding entrepreneurs". Then, if they can be convinced of the legitimacy and potential of the presenters' ideas, they offer to invest hundreds of thousands of their own dollars into these fledgling businesses and inventions. The sharks, of course, want to do more than share their wealth and expertise. They want to make big money by partnering with the best opportunities out there.
            It is fascinating, on the one hand, to see how many creative people there are who are thinking up, patenting, and producing goods to fill the shelves of Walmart or to be sold on television shopping networks. It is also tragic to see how many clueless people risk everything that they have on some really, really, bad idea in hopes of becoming the next "success" sto…


When the Green Bay Packers got off to a shaky start to the 2014 National Football League season, veteran quarterback Aaron Rodgers had a simple message for all those panicking cheeseheads (nickname for Packers' fans, see picture above): "Five letters here just for everybody out there in Packer-land: R-E-L-A-X, Relax. We're going to be OK." Rodgers' comments seem prophetic now that the Packers have been winning in dominating fashion and Rodgers himself has suddenly become mentioned as a midseason candidate for Most Valuable Player. His words also have been repeated regularly. Humorously, a video of his words was played on the NFL network (see Rodgers remix). When the Cleveland Cavaliers stumbled out of the blocks with several losses, returning NBA star Lebron James tweeted out these words: "In the words of the great @AaronRodgers12 "RELAX"! Sometimes, people need to be told plain and clear: "Relax." In the Bible, Psalm 37 is written for tha…

Richard Sibbes quote


Jian or Jesus

This past summer, my wife, MariAnne, and I were walking along a street in Oxford England. As we passed one of the many Oxford colleges, we had to make our way around a large group of international students who were lined up along a long stone wall which stretched to the end of the block. The most clearly noticeable feature of this group was that they were all (and when I say "all", I mean "all") absorbed with their smart phones. No one was talking, laughing, or listening to one another. They may have been chatting with each other by means of texting. Who knows? However, it seemed clear that they were using the break between classes to catch up on whatever was happening online.
            It is pretty clear today that it takes no effort to fill the gaps of time in our lives with information. That information may be as shallow and mundane as Facebook posts about the weather, what people ate for breakfast, or the rantings of those "friends" who are continual…