Archive for September, 2013

Second Thoughts

Thursday, September 26th, 2013

Today in the waning miles of our early morning bicycle ride, we were witnesses to a near tragedy.  The little fellow momentarily stopped at the side of the road to look both ways. Indeed, his parents had taught him well! Thinking all was clear he raced toward the other side. As he neared the center line, to his horror, he saw the truck speeding toward him.  After pausing for a millisecond of indecision to look back from whence he had come, he abruptly darted directly into the path of the truck. I instinctively closed my eyes.  Upon reopening them the frightened but miraculously unscathed squirrel was making his way into the safety of an open field. His adrenalin charged sprint was surely as fast as his little legs would ever carry him.

So what? What does the squirrel’s near death experience have to do with the time of day? Just this: What nearly got the squirrel killed wasn’t that he decided to cross the highway. What led him to death’s doorway was the fact that after looking and deciding he could make it, he then allowed second thoughts to take control.  In the midst of his crossing, the squirrel paused to look back and to reconsider; the second it took to look back nearly killed him.

From the Biblical account of Lot’s wife taking a backward glance and being turned into a pillar of salt to today’s incident with the squirrel, life is full of folks and lesser creatures that looked back and paid the price. I’m reminded of Davy Crockett’s motto. “Be sure you’re right and then go ahead.”  Or from a Biblical perspective: James 1:6 (NLT) “Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind.”



Caring to Check

Thursday, September 19th, 2013

While driving down West End Avenue, I noticed a runner who had stopped for traffic at an intersection; he immediately looked down at his watch. My mind flashed back to a time when I was hooked on running and how I compulsively kept track of my pace. During a jog there is no telling how often I would glance down at my watch to see how I was doing. Each outing was always a one-man competition between John.  I have a theory about folks who check their times as they run.  As a rule, they are usually doing pretty well.

A few years back I stopped opening my retirement account statements because the news was too bad to bear. Not so today;now days I open them on the way from the mailbox.

I find that I weigh myself  more  when I feel good about my weight than when I know I’m packing ‘em on.

People in 12 Step Programs who don’t attend meetings have a high rate of relapse.

My point is that, from one end of life to the other, when we stop caring to check how we are doing, usually we are not doing very well.

Something to think about


Tuesday, September 10th, 2013

Last week, when the country’s most hated man, Ariel Castro, committed suicide those of us who claim Jesus of Nazareth as our Savior and Lord were faced with a choice. How would we react?  Would there be even a tiny sliver of difference in our reactions than those who say there is no God? From what I personally heard and saw on social media the sad answer was “no”.  The responses to Castro’s death from several of my Christian friends, some of whom tend to wear their “Christianity” like those oversized “We’re number one foam fingers” can pretty much be summed up with these samplings:

 “Good, now he is in hell.”

 “Best news in long time.”

 “Burn baby burn.”

 “Too bad; I wanted him to learn first-hand what rape is like.”

 “Hope his death was slow and painful.”

 “Rather someone beat him to death.”

Given the gravity of his crimes and his spiteful ramblings at the closing of his trial, those kinds of comments are completely understandable, unless you claim to be a follower of Jesus.  Ariel Castro, with all his wickedness, was much loved by the Man who willingly died on a cross for him, at the same time that he died for the rest of us. Perhaps Jesus was more saddened by these responses of those claiming Him as Lord and Savior than he was Ariel’s suicide. Why would I say such a thing? Because He made it so clear.

Matthew 22:36-40(NIV) Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.

We may be able to quote the entire Bible chapter and verse. Perhaps we pepper our conversations with a litany of “Praise the Lords, Give Him Glories and Hallelujahs!”   But our true selves are always exposed for the world to see by how we choose to handle the second one. How did you do and do you give a rip?

Something to think about

Thank You

Thursday, September 5th, 2013

Sunday I got the following note: “John, thank you for  your part in bringing me back to God, and your friendship”. Short and sweet, but full of meaning and value. This note has special meaning because of whom wrote it. He is one of my heroes. Without him I could well be asking, “Would you like cheese on that burger?” instead of “let us pray”.    In my line of work I get lots of ”attaboys” —- a perk of being a pastor.  Lots of folks are not as fortunate; as was implicitly pointed out to me by “Sandy”.

A while back the video screens went down in the midst of our Sunday service; The following day I called the manufacture of our projectors. After holding for 42 minutes a tech rep said “Hello, I amSandy, how may I help you?” With rising blood pressure I immediately profiled, thinking to myself, you’re not Sandy, you are in India. “Sandy” isn’t even close to an Indian name, and for sure no Sandy sounds like you.

Immediately I concluded this is going to be another of those long and frustrating, pull your hair out conversations between two people who both have heavy accents and at least one of us is already in over my head. Actually, that is an understatement.  I’m not sure I know how to turn the projectors on; somebody else does that.  Anyway since I had no choice I decided to make the best of the situation. What else could I do?

As best as I could, I explained exactly what had happened; then “Sandy” asked me a few questions. To my surprise I was able to answer them. Then she said, “Mr. John I think your problem was caused by a power fluctuation, but may I put you on hold for two minutes to check my references?”  In no time she came back and said that a power fluctuation would be the only thing that would have caused the problem that I described. In less than five minutes she was able to give me an answer that I could understand and believe.  I replied, “Thanks Sandy, you did a great job”. Her immediate response was, “Oh, you made my day.  I do not  hear that very often. I’m glad that you talked to me. Thank you for being so kind”. Her reaction to my seven word “thank you” seemed way out of proportion.

How wrong I had been about Sandy. After we said our good-byes I couldn’t help but think about how excited and grateful she was when I complimented her. One of the basic needs of everyday people, whether in Nashville or Bombay, is to be accepted and affirmed.  Unfortunately, that need goes unmet more often than not.

 Something to Think About