Thursday, December 29, 2022

Here's to the Good Old Days

(Originally posted December 26, 2017)

This may come as a surprise to some, but Wikipedia really does provide some useful information from time to time. Consider what I recently learned about the phrase "auld lang syne":

       "Auld Lang Syne" is a Scots poem written by Robert Burns in 1788 and set to the tune of a traditional folk song. It is well known in many countries, especially in the English-speaking world; its traditional use being to bid farewell to the old year at the stroke of midnight. By extension, it is also sung at funerals, graduations, and as a farewell or ending to other occasions. The international Scouting movement, in many countries, uses it to close jamborees and other functions.
       The song's title may be translated into standard English as "old long since", or more idiomatically, "long long ago", "days gone by", or "old times". Consequently, "For auld lang syne", as it appears in the first line of the chorus, might be loosely translated as "for (the sake of) old times".

This new understanding of what those words mean is helpful to me as I consider Daniel Fogelberg's bittersweet song, "Same Old Lang Syne". It was a 1981 hit for Fogelberg and is still played from time to time, especially here in late December. Not only is it a true story (except, reportedly, for the woman's eye color and her husband's vocation), but its wistful wishing for "days gone by" rings with truth.

Truth is...I think almost everyone can relate to the feelings evoked in this song. What if I had done this one thing differently? What if I had turned right instead of left? Is my life now the life I was meant to live? Am I satisfied?

I hope it's not a sin to feel that way from time to time, and I am overjoyed to know that Yahweh takes the sum total of our decisions, actions, and attitudes...washes them clean...and "causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose." (Romans 8:28 NASB)

Thursday, December 22, 2022

Keep Him Away in a Manger


(Originally posted December 2018)

Keep him away in a manger, no crib for a bed
I'd rather not think of the thorns 'round his head
It pains me to picture his back beaten raw
Just give me the baby, asleep on the straw

The cattle! The wise men from far, distant lands!

The little Lord Jesus who makes no demands
I love the old carols and things in that vein
Just stay in the cradle and don't make me change

Be Little Lord Christchild, I ask thee to stay

The babe in a manger forever, I pray
To die when you're perfect would be such a loss
It's far too disturbing: the blood and the cross

*  *  *  *  *  *  *

Truth is...this really is the desire of a lot of folks; enamored with the romanticism and fairytale quality of The Christmas Story, but uncomfortable with the grisly necessity of Good Friday.

Thursday, December 15, 2022

You Know That Thing About Beauty Only Being Skin Deep?


So many of us care so much about whether others consider us physically attractive. "Do they think I'm good-looking?" "Is my skin smooth?"

According to The Body, by Bill Bryson, it's kind of silly to put much energy into our outward appearance.

"The skin consists of an inner layer called the dermis and an outer epidermis. The outermost surface of the epidermis, called the stratum corneum, is made up entirely of dead cells. It is an arresting thought that all that makes you lovely is deceased. Where body meets air, we are all cadavers. These outer skin cells are replaced every month. We shed skin copiously, almost carelessly: some twenty-five thousand flakes a minute, over a million pieces every hour. Run a finger along a dusty shelf, and you are in large part clearing a path through fragments of your former self. Silently and remorselessly we turn to dust."

*  *  *  *  *  *  *

Truth is...This seems to make it even more important that God doesn't concentrate on what we look like on the outside, but on who we really are in our heart of hearts. 1 Samuel 16:7  -  "The Lord doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart." (NLT)

Thursday, December 8, 2022

Who Peter Says I Am


Our Wednesday night Bible study recently finished its journey through 1st Peter. Our M.O. is to read through a passage and make note of characteristics of God, words or ideas that are repeated or unique, and any other pattern or concept that makes an impression.

For some reason, I started making a list of what Peter said about his readers. It ended up telling me a lot about myself.

I am:

God's elect, chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to be obedient to Jesus Christ (1 Peter 1:1-2)

Born anew into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade (1 Peter 1:3-4)

Shielded by God’s power (1 Peter 1:5)

In possession of a faith that has been proven to be genuine (1 Peter 1:7)

A lover of Jesus Christ (1 Peter 1:8)

Filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy (1 Peter 1:8)

Receiving the end result of my faith, the salvation of my soul (1 Peter 1:9)

Redeemed with the precious blood of Christ from the empty way of life handed down to me from my ancestors (1 Peter 1:18-19)

Born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God (1 Peter 1:23)

One who has tasted that the Lord is good (1 Peter 2:3)

Being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood (1 Peter 2:5)

Part of a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that I may declare the praises of him who called me out of darkness into his wonderful light (1 Peter 2:9)

A receiver of mercy (1 Peter 2:10)

A foreigner and an exile (1 Peter 2:11)

Called to repay evil with blessing so that [I] may inherit a blessing (1 Peter 3:9)

Hopeful (1 Peter 3:15)

A participant in the sufferings of Christ, so that [I] may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. (1 Peter 4:13)

Called by the God of all grace to his eternal glory in Christ (1 Peter 5:10)

*  *  *  *  *  *  *

Truth is...while I am all these things, it is not because of anything I've done, but because of continuing to be soaked with Yahweh's overwhelming grace and love.

Thursday, December 1, 2022

If Only = It's Not My Fault


Have you ever felt stalled on the brink of something really good happening but needed just a little bit break your life's inertia and have everything fall into place?

The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows, by John Koenig, has a word for that:

justing n. the habit of telling yourself that just one tweak could solve all of your problems  -  if only you had the right haircut, if only you found the right group of friends, if only you made just a little more money, if only he noticed you, if only she loved you back, if only you could find the time, if only you were confident  -  which leaves you feeling perpetually on the cusp of a better life, hanging around the top of the slide waiting for one little push.

And the author's explanatory etymology of the word is almost as enlightening as the definition:

From just, only, simply, merely + jousting, a sport won by positioning the tip of your lance at just the right spot, at just the right second.

Truth is...justing is alarmingly like whining, isn't it? Or blaming? It's like placing the responsibility for my lack of personal progress squarely on the shoulders of my circumstances rather than my own inactivity and fear.

Thursday, November 24, 2022

Giving Thanks


1 Chronicles 16:34  -  Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.

Psalm 7:17  -  I will give thanks to the Lord because of his righteousness; I will sing the praises of the name of the Lord Most High.

Psalm 118:21  -  I will give you thanks, for you answered me; you have become my salvation.

1 Corinthians 15:57  -  But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

2 Corinthians 9:15  -  Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!

Colossians 3:17  -  And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

1 Thessalonians 5:18  -  Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

Revelation 7:12  -  Praise and glory and wisdom and thanks and honor and power and strength be to our God for ever and ever.

Revelation 11:17  -  We give thanks to you, Lord God Almighty, the One who is and who was, because you have taken your great power and have begun to reign.

*  *  *  *  *  *  *

Truth is...The act of giving thanks is evidence that you recognize someone has been responsible for something good in your life that you did not earn or deserve. In which case, who better to be thankful to than the One who has been responsible for the greatest good of all?

Thursday, November 17, 2022

It Doesn't HAVE To Be Science Or Faith


I recently started reading a book by a couple of Jesuit priests who work at the Vatican observatory (Guy Consolmagno and Paul Mueller). It's titled Would You Baptize an Extraterrestrial? and its first chapter gives a great analogy that explains how science and religion don't have to be at odds with each other.

One piece of background explanation: the painting that is referenced in this quote was not painted with brushstrokes of paint, but was created using a technique called pointillism, where the image was built up by adding colors dot by dot, much like the digital imaging techniques used today.

When I look at A Sunday on La Grande Jatte  -  1884, I keep flipping back and forth between seeing the whole scene, which is lots of people enjoying a beautiful day in the park, and seeing the little dots from which that scene is made up. But to me that doesn't mean the world is falling apart  -  it means that there is more than one way to see the world. One way is to see the big picture, the everyday world of common experience. Another way is to see the world as analyzed by science: a world of tiny atoms, of particles and waves, of fields of force  -  a world that can be described mathematically.

That's one way to get at relating science and faith: think of it as flipping back and forth between two different ways of seeing one and the same world. We can see the world through the eyes of science or through the eyes of faith.

When you see the world through the eyes of faith, you are often very much concerned with everyday experiences of what is right and good and beautiful. You are concerned with how your life hangs together and makes sense  -  or doesn't!

But when you see the world through the eyes of science, your concerns are different. You want to know how the world works and what it's made of, right down to its smallest pieces. The world as analyzed by science can seem disconnected from the world of everyday experience, just as the dots in Seurat's painting can seem disconnected from the larger image.

The trick is to get comfortable with the idea of flipping back and forth between two different ways of seeing. And the trick, also, is not to panic if one way of seeing omits something that the other includes, or emphasizes something that the other neglects.

So you can see this painting as a collection of dots, or you can see it as an image of people in a park. Both descriptions are true. If one of them is true, it doesn't make the other one false.

*  *  *  *  *  *  *

Truth is...and I think I may have said this before...when presented with an either/or choice, sometimes the best option is both/and.

Thursday, November 10, 2022

Whether Your Candidate Won or Lost...


In these days following the mid-term elections, let's make something abundantly clear.

Ephesians 4:31-32 (NIV)  -  Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

(NLT)  -  Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.

(Phillips)  -  Let there be no more resentment, no more anger or temper, no more violent self-assertiveness, no more slander and no more malicious remarks, Be kind to each other, be understanding. Be as ready to forgive others as God for Christ’s sake has forgiven you.

(Voice)  -  Banish bitterness, rage and anger, shouting and slander, and any and all malicious thoughts — these are poison. Instead, be kind and compassionate. Graciously forgive one another just as God has forgiven you through the Anointed, our Liberating King.

(Amplified)  -  Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor [perpetual animosity, resentment, strife, fault-finding] and slander be put away from you, along with every kind of malice [all spitefulness, verbal abuse, malevolence]. Be kind and helpful to one another, tender-hearted [compassionate, understanding], forgiving one another [readily and freely], just as God in Christ also forgave you.

(The Message)  -  Make a clean break with all cutting, backbiting, profane talk. Be gentle with one another, sensitive. Forgive one another as quickly and thoroughly as God in Christ forgave you.

*  *  *  *  *  *  *

Truth is...If you can recognize your own need for forgiveness and have gladly received it from Yahweh, how could it be possible to withhold such a blessing from anyone else?

Thursday, November 3, 2022

White Majority In The Rearview Mirror


I've got bad news for those wanting to hang on to the myth of white superiority and primacy. From Brown Is the New White by Steve Phillips:

"The country's demographic revolution over the past fifty years has given birth to a New American Majority. Progressive people of color now comprise 23 percent of all the eligible voters in America, and progressive whites account for 28 percent of all eligible voters. Together, these constituencies make up 51 percent of the country's citizen voting-age population, and that majority is getting bigger every single day. ...

"The New American Majority is growing larger every single day (every minute, actually). Each day, the size of the U.S. population increases by more than 8,000 people, and nearly 90 percent of that growth consists of people of color. To understand this startling reality, one must look at the rate of births and deaths, and the rise in immigration.

"In terms of births, as of 2011, the majority of babies born in America (50.4 percent) are now people of color. A baby is born every seven seconds, resulting in 12,343 births per day. At the other end of the age spectrum, the racial composition of the over-65 segment of the popula­tion is quite different. Because of centuries of racially exclusionary im­migration policies, the total U.S. population was nearly 90 percent white as recently as 1950. As a result, the current over-65 population is 78 percent white. Using that figure to estimate the ra­cial breakdown of the country's deaths -- which occur at a rate of 6,646 per day (once every thirteen seconds) -- it's clear that while a majority of births are people of color, deaths are overwhelmingly white.

"What this means for net population growth, then, is that the white birth number of 6,048 new babies each day (49 percent of the babies born every day) are largely canceled out by the 5,204 white deaths ev­ery day. For people of color, the 6,295 daily births (51 percent of all births) are only reduced by 1,442 deaths, leaving a net increase of 4,853 people of color every day.

"And then there are the immigration numbers. Implied, feared, but unstated in America's heated immigration debate is a remarkable pop­ulation statistic -- more than 90 percent of all immigrants to America are people of color. In terms of legal immigration alone, 2,618 people are added to the U.S. population each day, nearly all of them people of color (reflecting the reality that most of the people outside of the United States are people of color). When those numbers are added to the net increase from births and deaths for people of color, the bottom line is that each and every day, 7,261 people of color are added to the U.S. population, in contrast to the white growth of 1,053 people."

*  *  *  *  *  *  *

Truth is...It's way past time for "red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in His sight" to make it into the hearts of adults and not just Sunday School children.

Thursday, October 27, 2022

The Truth Behind John Belushi's Final Flight


The uncontrollable end of John Belushi, as described by his agent, Bernie Brillstein, in Where Did I Go Right?

"One day in early March 1982, I flew with John Belushi from Los An­geles to Martha's Vineyard in a private jet. We had it all to ourselves. He was thirty-three. I was fifty-one. The accommodations were first class and we should have been having the time of our lives. We weren't. In fact, John Belushi no longer had a life. He was stretched out across two cramped seats in the tiny jet, wrapped up in a body bag. Our destination was his funeral.

"Everybody loved John Belushi. The problem was that he didn't love himself enough to believe he had value in the world and that he wasn't indestructible. As John's TV, then movie, career took off, and his fame grew, so did his inability to control his appetites. After he left Saturday Night Live, his life lost the discipline having weekly responsibilities im­posed, and his erratic behavior became more frequent. Total strangers gave him drugs just to get close, to be cool to tell their friends they'd done it. And John consumed it all. It wasn't just an over-large lust for life; he was trying to fill a hole inside. If God hadn't created drugs, John would have found something else to abuse. Lorne and I thought Belushi craved love and acceptance. I could identify with that. I wanted the same things; we all do. But instead of using drugs, I became a personal manager.

"Belushi could be, and often was, a great guy. The rest of the time, as he careened toward the end he was either crashed out or out of control. Those who cared about him would say, 'You're hurting yourself and the people who love you,' but he'd just try to charm his way past the warnings. When I pushed him too hard to straighten up, he'd tell me to back off.

"There's nothing more painful than watching a man you love de­stroy himself. I don't know why it happens. I'm not a psychologist, though sometimes in my job I have to act like one. I suppose there are as many reasons as there are people who [mess] up: Fear of success. Fear of failure. Fear of being a fake. Feelings of worthlessness. A need for love. Arrogance. Narcissism. They're played out with drink, infidelity, drugs, domestic violence, and other weird behaviors that are hard to imagine. Even performers who aren't screwed up sometimes act this way, so it's hard to tell what's going to happen or how serious it is -- until it's some­times too late."

*  *  *  *  *  *  *

Truth is...Whatever your fear or source of pain or lack of self-esteem causes you to do that distracts you from recognizing God's unquenchable love for you, get rid of it now, before your own "it's sometimes too late" moment catches you off guard.

Thursday, October 20, 2022

Avoid Viral Infections by Attending Church


Church involvement can be good for your health.

According to Social Intelligence: The Science of Human Relationships by Daniel Goleman, staying generally healthy can come down to living life on a peaceful, even keel.

Peaceful Easy Feeling

"[Meet] Sheldon Cohen, a psychologist at Carnegie Mellon University, who has intentionally given colds to hundreds of people. Not that Cohen has a malicious streak -- it's all in the interest of science. Under meticulously controlled conditions, he systematically exposes volunteers to a rhinovirus that causes the common cold. About a third of people exposed to the virus develop the full panoply of symptoms, while the rest walk away with nary a sniffle. The controlled conditions allow him to determine why. His methods are exacting. ...

"We know that low levels of vitamin C, smoking and sleeping poorly all increase the likelihood of infection. The question is, can a stressful relationship be added to that list? Cohen's answer: definitely. Cohen assigns precise numerical values to the factors that make one person come down with a cold while another stays healthy. Those with an ongoing personal conflict were 2.5 times as likely as the others to get a cold, putting rocky relationships in the same causal range as vitamin C deficiency and poor sleep. (Smoking, the most damaging unhealthy habit, made people three times more likely to succumb.) Conflicts that lasted a month or longer boosted susceptibility, but an occasional argument presented no health hazard. ...

"While perpetual arguments are bad for our health, isolating ourselves is worse. Compared to those with a rich web of social connections, those with the fewest close relationships were 4.2 times more likely to come down with a cold, making loneliness riskier than smoking. The more we socialize the less susceptible to colds we become. This idea seems counterintuitive: don't we increase the likelihood of being exposed to a cold virus the more people we interact with? Sure. But vibrant social connections boost our good moods and limit our negative ones, suppressing cortisol and enhancing immune function under stress. Relationships themselves seem to protect us from risk of exposure to the very cold virus they pose."

*  *  *  *  *  *  *

Truth is...if you were paying attention, you'll realize that we won't receive the implied health benefits by merely attending worship services. The real boost to our immune system comes from being involved and cultivating meaningful relationships. You know...not just going to church, but actually being the church.

Thursday, October 13, 2022

Time to Notice the Normal


The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows, by John Koenig, not only has short definitions of brand new words, but also includes short essays expounding on things we non-poets seldom contemplate. One of those essays is so perfectly phrased, I can't even think about commenting on it without making sure you've actually read it. Here then, are the paragraphs that follow the definition of maru mori: the heartbreaking simplicity of ordinary things.

Cat in window

Most living things don't need to remind themselves that life is precious. They simply pass the time. An old cat can sit in the window of a bookstore, whiling away the hours as people wander through. Blinking calmly, breathing in and out, idly watching a van being unloaded across the street, without thinking too much about anything. And that's alright. It's not such a bad way to live.

So much of life is spent this way, in ordinary time. There's no grand struggle, no sacraments, no epiphanies. Just simple domesticity, captured in little images, here and there. All the cheap little objects. The jittering rattle of an oscillating fan; a pair of toothbrushes waiting in a cup by the sink. There's the ragged squeal of an old screen door, the dry electronic screech of a receipt being printed, the ambient roar of someone showering upstairs. And the feeling of pulling on a pair of wool socks on a winter morning and peeling them off at the end of the day. These are sensations that pass without a second thought. So much of it is barely worth noting.

But in a couple hundred years, this world will turn over to a completely different cast of characters. They won't look back and wonder who won the battles or when. Instead, they'll try to imagine how we lived day to day, gathering precious artifacts of the world as it once was, in all its heartbreaking little details. They'll look for the doodles left behind in the margins of our textbooks, and the dandelions pressed in the pages. They'll try to imagine how our clothes felt on our bodies, and what we ate for lunch on a typical day, and what it might've cost. They'll wonder about our superstitions, the weird little memes and phrases and jokes we liked to tell, the pop songs we hummed mindlessly to ourselves. They'll try to imagine how it must've felt to stand on a street corner, looking around at the architecture, hearing old cars rumbling by. The smell in the air. What ketchup must have tasted like.

We rarely think to hold on to that part of life. We don't build statues of ordinary people. We don't leave behind little plaques to commemorate the milestones of ordinary time:


But it all still happened. All those cheap and disposable experiences are no less real than anything in our history books, no less sacred than anything in our hymnals.- Perhaps we should try keeping our eyes open while we pray, and look for the meaning in the things right in front of us: in the sound of Tic Tacs rattling in a box, the throbbing ache of hiccups, and the punky smell that lingers on your hands after doing the dishes. Each is itself a kind of meditation, a reminder of what is real.

We need these silly little things to fill out our lives, even if they don't mean all that much. If only to remind us that the stakes were never all that high in the first place. It's not always life-and-death. Sometimes it's just life  -  and that's alright.

*  *  *  *  *  *  *

Truth is...I'm not sure how all this fits or conflicts with any particular theology, but I do know our lives will be measurably sweeter and richer and fuller the more we recognize and appreciate that we are...indeed...standing on holy ground; that the world is a wondrous place; that to live is a great adventure.

Thursday, October 6, 2022

Licotic Hand Luke


John Koenig's The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows has invented a word for me to use when describing how I feel sometimes when talking about the facts and logic that support my faith.

It comes from the Old English licode (it pleased [you]) + psychotic, and is pronounced lahy-kot-ic.

licotic adj. anxiously excited to introduce a friend to something you think is amazing  -  a classic album, a favorite restaurant, a TV show they're lucky enough to watch for the very first time  -  which prompts you to continually poll their face waiting for the inevitable rush of awe, only to cringe when you discover all the work's flaws shining through for the very first time.

I admit to having this exact emotion when treating a group of high-school-aged boys to their first exposure to the cinematic experience known as Cool Hand Luke. I was excited to introduce them to Paul Newman at his finest, but soon realized that taken as a whole, the film is kind of depressing.

I also admit to having something close to this emotion when sharing a bit of apologetics with one of my atheist friends and realizing they are not as impressed with it as I am.

I suppose it's very difficult, if not entirely impossible, to recreate in someone else your personal reactions and feelings...whether about faith or films or food or even if something is funny or not.

*  *  *  *  *  *  *

Truth is...You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink.

Thursday, September 29, 2022

Calvin & Hobbes' Unintentional Commentary on Matthew 18:6


Bill Watterson's Calvin & Hobbes sometimes inspires me to be a better person. Consider the following Sunday strip that takes us through a typical day in the life of Calvin.

We begin with a rude literal awakening...followed by another intellectual one.

Then, a trio of gruffness...

Followed up with the denial of some simple pleasures...

And capped off with a sad realization.

*  *  *  *  *  *  *

Truth is...I am called to be a purveyor of hope, not a dispenser of censure and limitations. May my contribution to someone's day bring about a smile instead of a sad sigh.

Thursday, September 22, 2022

Feeling Crabby?


If you've ever found yourself trapped by your wrong choices, and then attacked by someone who you thought should be a comrade, this selection from Life Between the Tides by Adam Nicolson may feel a little familiar.

I put a small crab trap in, baited with bacon. Within a few minutes, a green crab was maneuvering towards it, from about four yards away, the smell communicated through the water. It was big, about three inches across, and walked directly towards the trap and then up over its netting, soon finding the inward-reaching, cone-shaped mouth that led towards the bacon. The crab paused there for a good minute, as if questioning the idea of entering this strange, food-rich, unaccustomed place. Was it a trap?

The smell of bacon must have overcome the wariness and it pushed further in. Six minutes after I had first seen it moving, the crab had fallen down into the trap's belly where it would get to the bacon but from which there was no escape. As it started to couch and hold the bait, two other crabs could be seen approaching from the far side of the pool. The first went past the entrance and in under the trap to the point where it was next to the crab that was already in there. The two of them began to grapple with each other through the net, one with access to the food but trapped, the other with no bacon but free.

The third, a little pale green one, bundled itself fast across the floor of the pool. Without pause, a fool rushing in, it flipped down into the trap already occupied by its bigger rival. Perceiving the entrance of the small pale crab, the older one neglected its rival outside and turned towards the newcomer.

Carefully it stirred its bronzy legs, each joint glowing orange like a set of eyes, and greeted the intruder. The drama lasted a few minutes. The little crab retreated to a corner and held its pitiable pale, lime-green claws up towards the enemy. The big crab picked up the little one in a claw and walked back sideways with it down into the depths of the trap, past the bacon, to a point at the far end where the little crab was held there in its attacker's pincers while the young crab's legs flicked and stirred at its undoing.

*  *  *  *  *  *  *

Truth is...when lust for what we want overrides our common sense, we needn't be surprised that anyone else as foolish as ourselves would be adversarial. "Honor among thieves" is a myth.

Thursday, September 15, 2022

Pearls Before Swine On Forgiveness


Stephan Pastis' long-running comic strip, Pearls Before Swine, recently ran three panels that clearly pronounced a truth about forgiveness that I've spent several blog entries trying to make clear.

We begin with Rat's vengeful goal.

Then we see how Pig is affected by Rat's efforts.

Finally, Goat uses sarcasm to bring the point home.

*  *  *  *  *  *  *

Truth is...when Jesus tells us to forgive one another and love our enemies and all that, it really is in our best interest, not just some highfalutin grasp at moral superiority.

Thursday, September 8, 2022

If This Doesn't Break Your Heart...


I became aware of a grief-inducing statistic the other day.

Because of my years of speaking in high school health classes on behalf of Amnion Pregnancy Center, I am on a mailing list that gets sent the state's annual abortion report. In this year's report, there are plenty of tables and graphs that could start a person ranting and raving, but I want to share with you one that practically broke my heart.

For each of the abortions performed in Minnesota, a record is kept of how many previous abortions that person has gone through. The numbers surprised me...and maybe shocked would be a better word.

Just to make sure you're understanding this table, there were 6,015 first-time abortions performed in Minnesota during the 12 months being reported on. There were also 2,335 abortions performed where the woman had had one previous abortion.

That isn't the shocking part.

Go down further and let the realization hit you that for 88 women who had abortions last year, it was their sixth one. For 21 women, last year marked their tenth...or more.

Truth is...This doesn't make me want to jump on a soapbox or urge anyone to vote one way or another. This makes me want to wrap my arms around these women and pray for Yahweh to shower them with comfort and grace.

Thursday, September 1, 2022

Feel the Love


And now we come to the final tune(except for a short reprise of the title song) on Love Song's groundbreaking Jesus Music album, Love Song. It's a fitting conclusion as it gently tries to "seal the deal" by inviting the listener to experience all the benefits of faith the album has been singing about.

Save the sadness for another time
Save the words for a song that rhymes
Save the crying for the ones who've lied
Who've missed all the meaning
And their souls have died

Save the doubting for the morning sun
Bringing daylight where there once was none
Feel the warmth that each new day can bring
By believing, by receiving Him

Feel the love
Feel the love

Save the heartaches for the yesterdays
Now's the time to change our foolish ways
Feel the love the Son of God can bring
By believing, by receiving Him

Feel the love
Feel the love
(Chuck Girard)

*  *  *  *  *  *  *

Truth is...Accepting Jesus as savior and lord isn't all rosebuds and lollipops, and yet the essence of it all really is as simple as receiving the truth that Yahweh loves you.

Thursday, August 25, 2022

A Brand New Song


Four of the Psalms instruct those who love God to sing a new song. Isaiah 42:10 repeats the command. Two times in the book of Revelation, heavenly worshipers are said to be singing a new song.

The group, Love Song, took those Scriptures seriously...and literally.

Sing unto the heavens with a brand new song
The one that we've been hearing's been a hit too long
The lyrics sound confused as if they don't belong
So sing unto the Lord and sing with feeling

And sing a song of love
And sing a song of gladness
Much too long our music
Has been filled, filled with sadness

Sing unto the heavens with a brand new song
Sing unto the Lamb with voices clear and strong
Tell a world that's waited now for much too long
All the truths that God has been revealing

And sing a song of praise
And sing a song of gladness
Much too long our music
Has been filled, filled with sadness
(Chuck Girard - Fred Field)

*  *  *  *  *  *  *

Truth is...Our world today could certainly use more love and gladness. May our lives be songs of praise that counteract the sadness and discord that permeates so much of the current culture.

Thursday, August 18, 2022

And the Wind Was Low


The ninth song on the album, Love Song, is a slow, quiet testimony of Chuck Girard's baptism. He sings of what was happening around him and within him and through him as he committed his life to the Lordship of Jesus.

And the wind was low
And He brought me to the water
I felt His hand and joy began
And there was meaning

And the sky was blue
And He gave me His assurance
I then began to understand
The blessed meaning

Oh Creator, your perfect wisdom

And the wind grew still
And he touched me with the power
Then came the fire, the strong desire
To really serve Him

And the tears were joy
And He listened as I sang to Him
I bowed my head, He gently said
I was forgiven

Oh Creator, your perfect promise
(Chuck Girard)

*  *  *  *  *  *  *

Truth is...We don't have to be a preacher or a singer or a writer, but each of us is called to be a witness; to simply "go and tell what the Lord has done for you." (Luke 8:39)

Thursday, August 11, 2022

Let Us Be One


One of the biggest barriers to non-believers becoming believers is when they look at Christians and see them in conflict with each other...often over things that really don't matter.

Our mutual acceptance by Yahweh because of Jesus, as evidenced by the Holy Spirit's presence and power in our lives, ought to draw us toward each other instead of being separated by our opinions on church structure or worship styles.

And yes, Love Song had a song about that.

Lord, don't let me strive against my brother
I'm so tired of it, don't want to do it no more
Lord, don't let us fight against each other
Let us be one in you

Lord, give us love for one another
In what we say, yes, in what we do
Lord, teach us to build up one another
Let us be one in you

For your sake let us learn to wait on the Spirit's move
We know that the hour is so late and you'll be coming soon

Let us be one in you
Let us be one

Lord, let us rest up in your Spirit
Knowing full well that we're in your hands
Oh, God, open up our hearts so we can hear it
Let us be one in you
Let us be one
(Tommy Coomes)

*  *  *  *  *  *  *

Truth is...Jesus had a prayer about it, found in the 17th chapter of John: "My prayer is not for [these current disciples] alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me."

Thursday, August 4, 2022

Front Seat, Back Seat


Most people are pretty big fans of making their own decisions and running their own lives. We like to think we're in control and are capable of driving our own destinies.

But if we're following the roadmaps of our own selfishness, chances are high we are bound for some serious mishaps.

Look Ma! I'm adulting!

Chuck Girard and Tommy Coomes, of the band Love Song, had experienced plenty of navigational errors that were remedied when they committed their lives to the leadership of Jesus...something they sang about in the country tune, "Front Seat, Back Seat."

I was a-runnin' from my Master
And I tried out every new thing I could find
But my life turned into one disaster
Without the Lord, I almost blew my mind

I was sittin' in the front seat
Tryin' really hard to be the driver
Thinkin' I was makin' real good time
But always windin' up the late arriver

But now I been tryin' out the back seat
And I find it is a very great relief
Now I'm ridin' in the back seat
And I'm leavin' all the drivin' to the Chief

I went barrelin' out full speed ahead
I went a 'runnin' every stop sign that I'd see
Thinkin' I'd give the Lord a shortcut
But I found out He don't need no help from me

I was sittin' in the front seat
Tryin' really hard to be the driver
(But it sure didn't work)
Thinkin' I was makin' real good time
But always windin' up the late arriver

But now I been tryin' out the back seat
And I find it is a very great relief
Now I'm ridin' in the back seat
And I'm leavin' all the drivin' to the Chief
(Tommy Coomes - Chuck Girard)

*  *  *  *  *  *  *

Truth is...Becoming a believer doesn't automatically solve all our problems. There's definitely a learning curve. But when we straighten out who's really the most qualified to be in charge, we start heading in the right direction.

Thursday, July 28, 2022

Welcome Back


The sixth song on Love Song's debut album is "Welcome Back." It is a soft ballad directed toward those who once were believers, have stepped away from the faith, and are now feeling the love of Jesus drawing them back to belief.


Welcome back to the things that you once believed in
Welcome back to what you knew was right from the start
All you had to do was to be what you always wanted to be
Welcome back to the love that is in your heart

I know that you thought you could turn your back
And no one could see in your mind
But I can see that you know better now
You never were the untruthful kind
Yeah, and I'm so happy now to welcome you back

Sometimes you just don't know what you're missin'
'Til you leave it for a while
Woooh-Welcome back
Welcome back
Welcome back (Welcome back to Jesus)
Chuck Girard

*  *  *  *  *  *  *

Truth is...Just like the prodigal son's father, Yahweh is always willing to welcome a person back into his loving arms. There is no such thing as being beyond the reach of forgiveness.

Thursday, July 21, 2022



For the young hippies who listened to the album Love Song when it was first released in 1972, their search for meaning and truth and freedom was real.

The group that made that album was also called Love Song and they had recently found the source of all the answers. All they wanted to do was tell their friends what they had found.


Jesus is the One that makes me never, ever want to spend another day without Him
Jesus is the One who shows me every time I turn around that I could never doubt Him
Jesus is the One that makes me want to shout the news above the rooftops
Shout the joyful news and let the people know that Jesus is the Lord!

Jesus is the One who changes slowly, all the evil things that dwell so deep inside me
Jesus is the One who cares forever, never let me down and never failed to guide me
Jesus is the One that makes me want to shout the news above the rooftops
Come on, let's shout the joyful news, and let the people know that Jesus is the Lord!
He's the Lord!

He'll do the same for you! (He'll give you freedom)
He's reaching out for you! (He'll give you freedom)
He's the only One who's true! (He'll give you freedom)
He'll set you free...

All He wants to do is to show you His love
and to comfort you
All you gotta do is take Him at His word
(Chuck Girard)

*  *  *  *  *  *  *

Truth is...Hippies weren't, and aren't, the only ones desiring a sense of meaning and freedom from guilt. In the words of another song, "All the world over, so easy to see; people everywhere just wanna be free." The good news is, Jesus is still the answer.

To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
John 8:31-32