Showing posts from November, 2007


Earlier this week I read in the Lancaster New Era that a woman whose son was killed in a police shootout back in November of 2005 had filed a wrongful death lawsuit. At one point as I read the article, I had to stop and make sure I was still reading the New Era and not the National Enquirer! I mean, here is a woman whose son was on record of desiring to kill cops and who put that desire into action by actually shooting one cop, leaving him seriously wounded AND shooting at other police officers as they sought to apprehend him. The Lancaster District Attorney's post-shooting investigation AND two other independent investigations came to the same conclusion: the police shooting of the suspect was justifiable. However, the suspect's mother is not satisfied and has therefore filed this suit. The suit names several police departments involved in the manhunt for her son AND the police officer whom her son shot! I feel for this woman's pain. I cannot imagine losing a child in thi…

Please Silence Your Cell Phones - Or Else!!!

Niagara Falls City Court Judge Robert Restaino was recently removed from his position on the bench by a New York State Commission. The Commission made their decision due to the actions of the judge in response to a cell phone that rang and interrupted one of his court sessions. The judge angrily ordered the "culprit" who allowed the interruption to come forward with the "guilty" cell phone in hand. When no one moved, he ordered all forty six people in the courtroom to jail. Once there, all were searched and herded into crowded cells. Those unable to post bail were shackled and bused to a separate jail. Restaino confessed to the state panel that he had been under stress in his personal life at the time. The judge is appealing the decision to remove him from his position.

This is just another reminder that stress causes people to do things they would not normally do. And since we live in such a stress filled world, we had better learn how to handle it. I believe one o…

Dual Identities?

People have a lot of fun with my name (at my expense!). When someone asks me my name and I answer with "John Smith" - I often get asked, "What's your real name?" "Who are you hiding from?" "Where is Pocahontas?" (By the way, the Indian princess Pocahontas never did marry John Smith. She married a Virginia tobacco plantation owner by the name of John Rolfe!)

I am sure many are glad they do not bear my name - but I must admit I, too, have experienced a lot of fun with my name over the years! So would I trade it for another? Hmm...Let me think on that.

Donald L. LaRose, however, apparently did not like his name. Twenty seven years ago he disappeared from his Indiana home and has not been seen since. The story spread that he was kidnapped by some Satanic cult that had been harassing him (he was pastoring a Baptist church at the time of his disappearance). Finally, after an intensive manhunt failed to find LaRose, an Indiana court declared him dead…

Thanksgiving Day 2007

Last week the automobile club, AAA predicted that a record 38.7 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more from home over the five days beginning today. That is a 1.6% increase over last year. Most of these trips will be by car (approximately 80%), in spite of the fact that the cost of a gallon of gasoline is up about 90 cents over last year's Thanksgiving holiday.

Why do so many people travel at Thanksgiving? I think I can answer this question, and answer it accurately with one word: "Family." Tomorrow will be my fifty-second Thanksgiving Day. All of them (at least as far back as I can remember) have been spent with family (and I am thankful for that privilege for not everyone has family). Tomorrow will be no different.
I want to go on record that this Thanksgiving Day ... and EVERY day ... I am very thankful for my family. My wife, my children, their spouses and spouses-to-be are among my life's greatest blessings. In addition, I thank God regularly for my exte…

So Just How Does God View Sin? (Part 2)

A number of years ago when I was pastoring my first church in suburban Philadelphia, I recruited some teens to help me with some clean up of the church property. The facility sat on a 12 acre tract of land of which 1/3 was wooded. Meandering through this wooded section was a small stream. One summer day I had noticed a lot of debris in the stream and thus the need for a "clean up" day. In the process of cleaning out the stream, a middle school student and I stumbled across a dead cat. It was very apparent that this cat had been dead for a quite some time. So fighting waves of nausea, we removed the body of the cat and bagged it as quickly as we could. It was down right disgusting (in fact, I am getting a little queasy just thinking about it now!).

As disgusting as that cat was in our sight back then -- our sin is so much more disgusting in God's sight. As I mentioned in my last posting, God sees sin as a breaking of his law and a missing of the mark he has established for…

So Just How Does GOD View Sin? (Part 1)

Did you ever turn the wrong way onto a one way street? It can prove to be quite exhilarating. I know, because I have done it (and more than just once!). When it comes to our view of sin, many of us are heading the wrong way on a one way street. Yesterday, I discussed a few ways that our culture view sin (which in turn often impacts how we Christians look at it). And it is NOT how God sees it!

So just how does GOD view sin? For starters, he sees sin as a breaking of his law. In Romans 2:23 we read, "You who brag about the law, do you dishonor God by breaking the law?" The Greek word translated here as "breaking" carries the idea of stepping over a boundary. So, in God's view we are LAW BREAKERS. And that includes every single one of us! (Romans 3:23 "For ALL have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.")

Now you might be thinking, "Wait a minute, John. I have never broken God's law. I am a decent person. I am not a law breaker!" That mig…

Sin According to Humanity

I know I said in my last posting that I would take a look at God's view of sin in my next posting. However, I thought before I go there, I would like to expand just a bit on how people see sin.

As I see things, the concept of sin is down right offensive to most people. Therefore man has taken sin and sought to minimize it to the point that it is such a small and insignificant entity that it does not even show up on the average person's daily radar screen. And our culture has minimized sin (and done so very effectively) in two very pronounced ways:
- We (I am using the pronoun because yes, even we Christ-followers are guilty of handling sin in this manner!) have psychologized sin. By this I mean much of what was once considered sin has now been redefined as a psychological disorder. One example of this is what is labeled "Oppositional Defiance Disorder" (ODD). The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV - published in 1994) describes this disorder…

Whatever Happened to Sin?

Over thirty years ago, psychiatrist Karl Menninger penned the following words in his book Whatever Became of Sin?: "The very word, 'sin,' which seems to have disappeared, was once a proud word. It was once a strong word, an ominous and serious word. But the word went away. It has almost disappeared - the word, along with the notion. Why? Doesn't anyone sin anymore? Doesn't anyone believe in sin?" What was true then ... is even more the case today. D.A. Carson, a widely recognized N.T. scholar commented a few years ago that the most frustrating part of doing evangelism on university campuses is that most students have no idea of sin. "They know how to sin well enough, but they have no idea of what constitutes sin."

Carson is right. Sin is rampant today. Couples live together prior to marriage and think nothing of it. People spread gossip with out any remorse. Employees call of sick and then head to the beach for the day. I could go on, citing more exa…

Coming Next Week . . .

Next week I plan to do a little blogging about a concept that is getting increasingly less exposure in the Church. And this in spite of the fact that this entity is the biggest roadblock in our journey of grace!

So when your life slows down and you are looking for something to do next week, stop by. I will try to be sure it won't be time wasted!
Thanks for stopping by . . .

The Wrong Place at the Wrong Time? Never!

Last night I talked with a couple who collided with a deer last week. Thankfully they were OK. I am not sure about the deer, but I would guess that it did not survive. As for the car, it suffered a fair amount of damage. And it just so happened that it was a brand new car (Murphy's Law 76 - If you hit a deer it will be when your car is less than a year old)!
As they related their story to me, my thoughts went back to my drive last week through the farmlands of north central Indiana. As I started out shortly after 6:00 last Thursday morning, my eyes picked up a deer crossing the road just a few yards in front of me. If I had been just a second or two sooner - I, too would have been able to moan about hitting a deer.
Deer cross roads all the time. And whenever a deer is crossing a road, it does not stop to look both ways for oncoming traffic! As a result, approximately 350,000 deer are killed each year! That is a lot of deer!!! Now is this a case of the deer (or the vehicle) simply …

Look, Grampy, at What I Found!

Kaleb Kidd was out running around chasing squirrels and having a blast. The three year old is all boy. And like many three year old boys, he likes rocks. So when he found a rather unusual looking rock, he pointed it out to his granddad. The "rock" was actually not a rock at all. Rather, Kaleb had stumbled across a tooth from the long extinct woolly mammoth (just like the woolly mammoth, Manfred (a.k.a. "Manny") from the two Ice Age movies). Wow! Can you believe that! You talk about the "find of a lifetime!" And little Kaleb is only three! He will have a hard time topping that!

But there is a find that is much more exciting than even finding a tooth from a long ago mammoth. It is the finding of eternal life. If you look at the top of my blog page, you will find the following words: Our days are like a passing cloud, a puff of steam, a melting snow flake, a fading dream. Given how quickly our days pass - what would our existence be if we did not have eternal…

Back Home .... Yeah!

Last week I travelled over 1500 miles by car and by plane in order to attend board meetings at Grace College and Seminary in Winona Lake, Indiana. It was a profitable time away (thanks to all who prayed!). But I was one very glad (and tired) soul when I pulled into my driveway at 106 Providence Place late Sunday night.

There is something about home that soothes the tired heart. I thoroughly enjoyed the "welcome home" hugs from my wife and the good night sleep I enjoyed in my own bed. Home is just plain out comfortable! It is my favorite place on the planet!
But you know, as much as I enjoy my earthly home - my heavenly home will be a gazillion times more comfortable, more enjoyable, more exceedingly wonderful! Jesus has been preparing a place for me there in His Father's house (check out the first few verses of John 14). And if you are one of HIS followers, he is also preparing a place for you! So no matter how tired you might become - no matter how much pain and heartach…