Thursday, April 25, 2019


I Was Just Thinking About – DARKNESS.

Many people have an innate fear of darkness. There are the thoughts that someone is lurking in that darkness of something nefarious (wicked or criminal) may suddenly occur. Jesus, Himself, referenced these possibilities in John 3:19-20 (NLT), “The judgment is based on this fact: God’s light came into the world, but people loved the darkness more than the light, for their actions were evil. All who do evil hate the light and refuse to go near it for fear their sins will be exposed.”

In 1874, Mary Baker wrote the words based upon Mark 4, and referenced a physical characteristic of a fierce and dangerous storm at sea: “Master, the tempest is raging!The billows are tossing high!The sky is overshadowed with blackness,No shelter or help is nigh;Carest Thou not that we perish…?” Another Hymnwriter, Edward More (1834), expressed darkness from a spiritual perspective when he penned: “When darkness seems to hide His face…” In the 1980s, A Christian Fiction writer, Frank Peretti wrote two books – This Present Darkness and Piercing The Darkness – that captured the interest of more than 15 million people who purchased his books. A Blog worth reading is written by Terry Powell - Penetrating The Darkness -  is a former (retired) faculty member at Columbia International University. He has some keen insights that are shared about depression and the darkness one can experience at such a time.

I have written a book, somewhat transparent,  about my months of treatment for Lymphoma. When I was sedated for the insertion of a tracheotomy, I had a strange mental vision of being trapped in a cave of just stalagmites. I was in that cave trapped under heavy plastic that had been shrunken over the stalagmites. At the time, I was wanting to be free but could not escape. I was tightly trapped and could not move. I heard voices but no one willing to help me during my plight. Even though that experience is more distant as each day passes, I still have moments of “flash-back” to that moment that seems so real. Do I expect any reader to understand it? No! I have no idea what anesthesia was used but it is not an experience that one should have or desire.

One of the realities when being diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer is the possibility of death within a brief period of time. I knew there were people praying for me and who genuinely cared – but – the brevity of life and the possible abrupt ending was difficult for both thought and expression. During my Chemotherapy sessions, a question that was asked each time was: “Have you considered suicide (ending your own life)?” I was annoyed by the question and it was never a thought I entertained. There were three things that helped me during that time. 
First, Jeremiah 29:11, the Lord’s Word – “I know the plans that I have for you…that you might have a future and a hope.” 
Second, words in an anthem written by L.E. Singer and Don Wyrtzen, Finally Home: “When engulfed by the terror  Of tempestuous sea; Unknown waves before you roll…When surrounded by the blackness  Of the darkest night; O how lonely death can be…” The Refrain is:  “Just think of stepping on shore  And finding it heaven;  Of touching a hand and finding it God's; Of breathing new air and finding it celestial Of waking up in glory and finding it home.” 
Third was an old Hymn quoted above that expresses: “My hope is built on nothing lessThan Jesus’ blood and righteousness.I dare not trust the sweetest frame,But wholly trust in Jesus’ name. On Christ the solid rock I stand…” This truth is the light that pierces through the darkness of uncertainty and innate fears.

Prayerfully – Consider these things with me.

Monday, April 22, 2019


I Was Just Thinking About – VIOLENCE.

The Psalmist (David) raised an important question in Psalm 58:1-2 (NLT), “Justice—do you rulers know the meaning of the word? Do you judge the people fairly? No! You plot injustice in your hearts. You spread violence throughout the land.” Violence is an ongoing blight upon the culture of our day. There growing trends with domestic abuse; pedophilia (even perpetrated by religious leaders; wickedness and evil of every description; terrorism; etc. Jesus shared a list of some of the things that defile a person and corrupt a culture/society. In Mark 7:20-21, Jesus said: “What comes out of a person is what defiles him. For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness.”

We just passed through the Lenten Season that culminated with the crucifixion of Jesus Christ and His resurrection. A gifted wordsmith gave a brief description of what the trial and crucifixion of Jesus entailed: “No need to prolong the story. Or complicate it. Or embellish it. Or try to explain it. Or defend it. Just declare it. The facts speak for themselves. Jesus of Nazareth said He would suffer…be killed, and be raised up on the third day. Betrayed by Judas, He was seized, placed under arrest, pushed hurriedly through several trials and declared guilty…first of blasphemy, next, of treason. Alone and forsaken, He endured the torture of scourging, the humiliation of insults and mockery, and the agony of that walk to Golgotha. The horrors of crucifixion followed, leaving Him suspended for six excruciating hours… the last three of which were spent in eerie darkness that fell over the whole land. By three o'clock that afternoon He uttered His final words: Father, into Your hands I commit My spirit -Then - He died.”

While we gathered for Easter Worship and celebration – Sunrise Services and regular Worship Services – reports of violence dominated the news. In Colombo, Sri Lanka, a well-planned terrorist attack was unfolding. Four churches bombed, four hotels were likewise bombed, a bomb located at the airport was defused, hundreds of people were killed and others seriously injured. While the attacks seemed to be primarily anti-religious, the fact is that the devious, evil and wicked determination had been devised and planned in the hearts of depraved men. 

It reminded me of two Scriptures that state the obvious. First is Jeremiah 17:9-10 (NLT), “The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is? But I, the Lord, search all hearts and examine secret motives. I give all people their due rewards, according to what their actions deserve.” Second is Genesis 6:5-7 (NLT), “The Lord observed the extent of human wickedness on the earth, and he saw that everything they thought or imagined was consistently and totally evil.  So the Lord was sorry he had ever made them and put them on the earth. It broke his heart.  And the Lord said: I will wipe this human race I have created from the face of the earth.”

The one true hope that prevails is that Jesus Christ did not remain in a tomb. Three days after His crucifixion, the sealed stone was rolled away and Jesus Christ was raised from among the dead and demonstrated once and for all, First Corinthians 15:54-57 (ESV), “Death is swallowed up in victory.O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting? The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Prayerfully – Consider these things with me.

Saturday, April 20, 2019


I Was Just Thinking About – DECEPTION.

The founder of C-Span, Brian Lamb, after 40 years of observing Congress included the following in his farewell observation: “Lying is the word that I would use to describe this town. I don’t know if it will ever stop. It’s gotten worse rather than getting better, and both sides do it. You’ve got to listen very carefully to what they’re saying.”

Yesterday’s news included the most recent Gallup Poll regarding Church Membership and Attendance in 2019. The summary of the Poll indicates: “The percentage of U.S. adults who belong to a church or other religious institution has plunged by 20 percentage points over the past two decades, hitting a low of 50% last year, according to a new Gallup poll. Among major demographic groups, the biggest drops were recorded among Democrats and Hispanics. Gallup said church membership was 70% in 1999 — and close to or higher than that figure for most of the 20th century. Since 1999, the figure has fallen steadily, while the percentage of U.S. adults with no religious affiliation has jumped from 8% to 19%. Among Americans identifying with a particular religion, there was a sharp drop in church membership among Catholics — dropping from 76% to 63% over the past two decades as the church was buffeted by clergy sex-abuse scandals. Membership among Protestants dropped from 73% to 67% percent over the same period.”

Why is it that people are rejecting organized religion and regular participation in Church per se? The hackneyed response is often – “hypocrisy” on the part of the attendees and leadership. Much of that can be more true than false – but – does that make it one’s acceptable excuse – or – is that some cleverly designed ploy – deception by a spiritual force one has failed to consider? Paul offered words of caution in a twofold way. First, be aware of the spiritual forces of evil - Ephesians 6:11-12, “Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” Second, don’t get focused on secondary issues, Philippians 1:15, 18 – “…Some preach Christ from envy and rivalry…” Paul was persuaded that his focus,and ours, needs to be: “…whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice.”

Another consideration – who has the right to determine and designate who is or isn’t a hypocrite? In Matthew 23, Jesus Christ pronounces a series of woes upon hypocrites. An example is in verse 13: “But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. For you neither enter yourselves nor allow those who would enter to go in.” 

In John 8:43-45, Jesus Christ is speaking about belief and deception. He makes the distinction between truth and lies when He stated: “Why is my language not clear to you? Because you are unable to hear what I say. You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies. Yet because I tell the truth, you do not believe me!”

Our task is to represent the one who is (John 14:6), “the way, the truth and the life.” We cannot allow ourselves to become dissuaded because of extraneous factors. Jesus Christ became The once-for-all Sacrifice for our sins – was crucified, buried, resurrected and ascended into heaven – for all who will believe that eternal truth.

Prayerfully – Consider these things with me. 

Monday, April 15, 2019


I was Just Thinking About – ULTERIOR MOTIVE.

Palm Sunday is a day of great celebration in the Christian Church, It includes emphasis on Palm Branches and genuine believers and followers of Jesus Christ chanting (John 12:12-19): “Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel.” In the contemporary twenty-first century Church enthusiastically sings: “All Hail King Jesus! All hail Immanuel! King of kings; Lord of lords; Bright Morning Star! And throughout eternity I’ll sing Your praises; and forevermore, I will reign with You.” The acts and words capture the significance of that moment in the life of Jesus Christ as He proceeds to Jerusalem. 

John records the significance of the event, but he also shares a sub-plot of what is going on with some of the observers of the procession. Why had the Jews and Chief Priests come to this event? What was in their heart and mind as they came and observed? The overall context includes the great event of John 11 and the raising of Lazarus from among the dead. In the midst of a crowd that was mourning his death, Jesus summoned Lazarus to emerge from among the dead – and – Lazarus came forth.

John 12:9-11 records: the ulterior motive of some of the observers. John indicates: The large crowd of the Jews learned that Jesus and Lazarus would both be present at the celebratory procession. The text states: “They came to see Lazarus who Jesus had raised from the dead.” What was the plan of the Chief Priests? Despite the enthusiasm and chants of the crowd, the “chief priests made plans to put Lazarus to death as well as Jesus.” Why? Because of this event, “many of the Jews were going away and believing in Jesus.” This was bad for the religious groups over which the chief priests exercised their authority. The way to continue in their religious control was to kill anything and anyone who disrupted their false emphases and impacted  their religious traditions. In their mind and heart, both Jesus and Lazarus would need to be killed. This intent is mentioned once again in verses 18-19, “The reason why the crowd went to meet him was that they heard he had done this sign. So the Pharisees said to one another: You see that you are gaining nothing. Look, the world has gone after him.”

The Chief Priests and Jewish leaders would manipulate events to the point that within a very few hours and days the Hosannas would be drowned out with the demand to Crucify Him. John 19:1-7 states the changed narrative about Jesus. Pilate flogged Jesus. The soldiers put a crown of thorns on his head and draped a purple robe on Him. Then the mockingly chanted: “Hail, King of the Jews!” They struck Him with their hands. Pilate kept asserting and affirming: “I find no fault in Him…Behold, the man.” The hostile crowd was becoming frenzied and cared little about justice. “When the chief priests and the officers saw Him, they cried out – Crucify Him! Crucify Him!” Pilate then said to them one last time: “Take Him yourselves and crucify Him for I find no fault in Him.” The Jews argue their rationale: “We have a law and according to that law He ought to die because He made Himself the Son of God.” They erred in their rationale when they asserted “He made Himself the Son of God.” The fact was and is: He IS The Son of God who takes away the sin of the world.

How should the genuine Christian identify with Jesus Christ. Paul expressed it clearly in Galatians 2:20 where he stated: “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”

Prayerfully – consider these things with me! 

Friday, April 12, 2019


I Was just thinking about – TRANSPARENCY. 

A couple of Biblical truths that often come to mind include the directives in Galatians 6:2-3“Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.  For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself.”The two factors are (1) the genuine act of literally being involved and concerned about another’s need and/or hardship; and (2) the danger of thinking such a person of need and hardship is lessor, perhaps immature and insignificant because of his/her openness and transparency.

In previous posts, I made mention of and have written about “Chemo-Brain” and/or “Brain-Fog” that can be experienced by cancer patients and their chemotherapy regimen. A book I have written that will soon be published includes the following personal moments that were experienced:
During my difficulty in remembering right words and concentrating, some of the words in Psalm 37 frequently came to mind. When concerns about death and being able to speak again, the words that came to me were: “Fret not...Trust in the Lord...Commit your way to the Lord...Be still...Wait patiently for Him...” (Psalm 37). ‖try not to be critical when I indicate to you that these truths were more easily spoken in the past than they were in the immediacy of treatment. One other struggle was with the concept and practice of transparency. A downside to transparency is that it makes some construe it as a weakness of character. This also is true if one weeps as testimony is given about God’s presence and faithfulness during one’s days of medical treatment and wrestling with the possibility of death. Some people are used to building a wall around themselves and guarding against anyone knowing what is really going on internally and mentally. I often wonder how the genuine Christian can pray intelligently when the layers of veneer are all they can view with another person.”

It may be purely subjective on my part, but when I attempted to return to pulpit ministry, but it was a very emotional time. Why? Because the first diagnosis was that my tongue and voice box might have to be removed. My immediate response was that I would NOT consent to that procedure. As I stood in a pulpit and words were able to be given clearly by me, I could not prevent some weeping while I was speaking. Most people present were understanding and encouraging. But – there was also the austere, non-emotional reaction. It was a clear indication that transparency was not a part of such a one’s DNA (abbreviation for: deoxyribo-nucleic acid). Spiritually, it is good to have an alternative available to one other than the “austere Christian” – First Peter 5:7 (NLT) – “Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.”

I am blessed by the words in a Hymn written by Fanny Crosby where she shared:
Safe in the arms of Jesus,
Safe from corroding care,
Safe from the world’s temptations,
Sin cannot harm me there.
Free from the blight of sorrow,
Free from my doubts and fears;
Only a few more trials,
Only a few more tears!

It is good to remember that the love, mercy, grace, compassion and presence of The Lord who is our/my Shepherd.  HE knows and HE cares.

Prayerfully – Consider these things with me.

Friday, April 5, 2019


I Was Just Thinking About – MODIFICATION.

Modification conveys the idea there has been or will be a partial alteration taking place. Opposite to this is Intransigence where the position and posture is a refusal to agree or compromise with the suggested or pending modifications. The intransigent person is one who is inflexible. Biblical History states the dangers of any modification to that which God has declared, such as His – “Thou shalt not.” In the Garden of Eden, God wanted Adam and Eve to be intransigent, whereas the serpent wanted them to modify what God had stipulated and required.

Historically, within Church history, there have been times when the order of the day trended toward modification. The beginning of the Twentieth Century was such a time. In 1910, it resulted in the statement which indicated: “There are five fundamentals of the faith which are essential for Christianity, and upon which we agree:
(1) The Deity of our Lord Jesus Christ (John 1:1; John 20:28; Hebrews 1:8-9). 
(2)  The Virgin Birth (Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:23; Luke 1:27). 
(3) The Blood Atonement (Acts 20:28; Romans 3:25, 5:9; Ephesians 1:7; Hebrews 9:12-14). 
(4) The Bodily Resurrection (Luke 24:36-46; 1 Corinthians 15:1-4, 15:14-15). 
(5) The inerrancy of the scriptures themselves (Psalms 12:6-7; Romans 15:4; 2 Timothy 3:16-17; 2 Peter 1:20). 
And those who disagree with any of the above doctrines are not Christians at all. Rather, they are the true heretics.”

This was more or less accepted until the 1930s when liberalism and conservatism surfaced and was debated. Modifications began to be attached to the five Fundamentals. This was acute within the Presbyterian movement. Eschatological and Christian Liberty issues were viewed as fundamental to how the Church was to proceed.

In the Twenty-First Century Presbyterian Church, the debate (and passion) has expanded to issues such as: Strict Subscription; the Ordination of women to any office; flexibility and accommodation with the LGBT community; racial reparations; etc. Other denominations exist and insist upon modes of Baptism; opposition to Infant Baptism and Covenant Theology; Charismatic Gifts and their use; as well as the prevailing views on Christian Liberty issues. The bottom-line remains in terms of who is or isn’t heretical or Biblically correct or incorrect.

The Apostle Paul addressed these types of things within his ministry. He had to contend with the prevailing views of the Gospel and whether or not it was applicable to both the Jew and Gentile. He also addressed the divisions regarding charismatic gifts. He used statements such as: “If the bugle gives an indistinct sound, who will get ready for battle? So with yourselves, if with your tongue you utter speech that is not intelligible, how will anyone know what is said? For you will be speaking into the air” (First Corinthian 14:8-9).

Regarding Christian Liberty, Paul gives the enjoinder and counsel: “Let not the one who eats despise the one who abstains, and let not the one who abstains pass judgment on the one who eats, for God has welcomed him” (Romans 14:3).

Overall, Paul gives a partial listing of how a follower of Jesus Christ should live (Philippians 4:8): ”Whatever is true… honorable… just… pure… lovely…commendable - if there is any excellence…anything worthy of praise, THINK ABOUT THESE THINGS."

Prayerfully – consider these things with me. 

Thursday, April 4, 2019


I Was Just Thinking About – DECEPTION.

An old saying states: “Oh! What a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive.” It was expressed in the play by Sir Walter Scott, "Marmion". It referenced how complicated life can become when people start lying. In the play, it referred to a love triangle and how it complicated life.

Romans 1:28-31 dives a defining statement about the depraved mind of mankind: It begins with: ”doing what ought not to be done.” Obviously, deception was the key factor in the Garden of Eden when the serpent convinced Eve that God did not mean what he said about fruit from the tree of life. The serpent DECEIVED Eve and the reality of depravity began to infiltrate the human race. Paul defines it as: “They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed, and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, DECEIT, and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant, and boastful. They invent new forms of evil; they disobey their parents.  They are senseless, faithless, heartless, merciless.” The infiltration is all-encompassing and thorough.

In Jeremiah 9:5-6, Jeremiah shares the lament about God’s people and the depths to which they had sunk and the lifestyle to which they had become unchangeably accustomed: “Everyone DECEIVES his neighbor, and no one speaks the truth; they have taught their tongue to speak lies; they weary themselves committing iniquity. Heaping oppression upon oppression, and DECEIT upon DECEIT, they refuse to know me, declares the Lord. It had become something they craved to be and from which they refused to repent.

Paul also reminds us – Galatians 6:7-8 – the defining reality that each one must believe: “Do not be DECEIVED: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap.  For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.”

I raise this point about the web of deception because of a current experience, namely, my primary email account having been hacked and all on that list of names was contacted with varying appeals for “stuff” and forwarding gift card funds, etc. Microsoft has tracked it to someone in Nigeria (but not limited to that place). The hacking causes a lot of angst and untruthful appeals. The best thing anyone should do is immediately send any such email appeal as being from me into SPAM.

I received many phone calls from those who were willing to assist IF there was a genuine need. I am grateful for each contact and the expressions of concern. I also regret that some may have been bilked by the DECEPTION and DECEIVER. It reminded me of the words in Second Corinthians 2:11 about the source of evil and wickedness in this world: that Satan might not outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes.” First Peter 5:8 also reminds us: “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary/enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour (or to DECEIVE). Resist him…”

Prayerfully – consider these things with me!

Monday, April 1, 2019


I Was Just Thinking About – DARK VALLEYS.

In Psalm 23 (NKJV), David writes about the moment(s) in life when one experiences a Death Valley reality. It can occur when one is thought to be gravely ill; or when a loved one  - whether young or old – dies; or when a medical diagnosis indicates death from a malady is a distinct possibility. David expressed his concern when he stated (Psalm 23:4), “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death.” While he has earlier expressed his confidence that “The Lord is MY Shepherd…”, he is well aware of the dangers in life’s journey – enemies, uncertainties, unknowns, consequences for errors made. One Commentator states about this phrase: “through a dark and dismal valley, full of terrors and dangers…” Never-the-less, he expresses: “I will fear no evil, for You are with me.”

I have shared on other occasions that a concern when one is subjected to chemotherapy is one’s mental adjustments and responses. One Doctor visited with me briefly about “Chemo-brain” and how one’s thinking can be impacted. An Area Cancer Center just had a workshop/Seminar on the subject of “Brain-Fog.” One of the mental possibilities addressed frequently during treatment s whether or not one has contemplated suicide within the past couple of weeks. It can occur when a Stage Four diagnosis triggers mental negatives such as despair, hopelessness, giving up, depression, the sense of aloneness and/or suicide. The National Cancer Institute suggests:  Treatment with chemotherapy is a predictor of fatigue and can be exacerbated by the coexistence of pain, depression, and/or anxiety.”

How one copes with the mental challenges during treatment vary widely. The mental concerns are real and the spiritual conflict is ongoing. In my Case, I am so thankful for the number of passages of Scripture that I had memorized over the years, along with several Hymns that had been learned and referenced in most of my writings. This morning, I passed along a note to a dear person of God whose Lymphoma has returned and is being treated. The note included the words of the Hymn:

Though troubles assail and dangers affright,
Though friends should all fail and foes all unite;
Yet one thing secures us, whatever betide,
The scripture assures us, the Lord will provide.

When Satan appears to stop up our path,
And fill us with fears, we triumph by faith;
He cannot take from us, though oft he has tried,
This heart–cheering promise, the Lord will provide.

He tells us we’re weak, our hope is in vain,
The good that we seek we ne’er shall obtain,
But when such suggestions our spirits have plied,
This answer one clings to, the Lord will provide.

No strength of our own, or goodness we claim,
Yet since we have known the Savior’s great name;
In this our strong tower for safety we hide,
The Lord is our power, the Lord will provide.

One of the lessons I have learned regarding the “valley of the shadow of death” is to avoid being critical or judgmental as others pass through this valley with their burden and need. Some cannot let go of a loved one who has died. Others cut off friends and church groups preferring aloneness rather than friendships that can offer hope and comfort. It is a tough time to pass through the valley of the shadow of death. Be certain that The Shepherd is there with you. His “rod and staff” will continue to guide and comfort you as you continue your journey with Him.

Prayerfully – consider these things with me.