Friday, May 30, 2014


The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department has a statement of Core Values. Ask any deputy, they can easily recite it for you. The first line of the Core Values states, “I commit myself to honorably perform my duties.” The concept of honor is, sadly, considered out-of-date these days. In truth, it has always been in short supply. It is human nature to seek to divert responsibility from oneself.

Honor is not pride. Legitimate pride is founded on honor. Honor is not duty. Commitment to duty comes only with a concept of personal honor. Honor cannot be imposed externally. It is a choice. Once made, it provides an internal anchor that holds one firm in shifting circumstances.

Honor is a personal commitment to do what is right. It shows the correct path to take when your personal safety or reputation might tempt you to do what is less than right. Honor is what makes you stand up and take the heat when you deserve it.

Honor is the hard way. It is much easier to go-with-the-flow, but a person of honor does what is right, not what is easy. Personal honor is actually an anomaly. It is human nature to put yourself first, to shift blame. Honor is something higher than self-interest. A healthy society could not exist apart from the exercise of personal honor. Yet, honor is not merely a ‘good idea.’ “Hey, why don’t we have honor, then we can have society?” It is a calling to go above and beyond what is natural. In that sense, it is a divine calling. God’s call to “be holy for I am holy,” is a call to honor. In one sense, that call is impossible. In another, it is a call to rise above the self and do what is right; simply because it is right.

Leviticus 20:26  “Thus you are to be holy to Me, for I the Lord am holy; and I have set you apart from the peoples to be Mine.” 1 Peter 1:16 “it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”

Monday, January 27, 2014


This post has absolutely NO social or spiritual redeeming value. I'm just feeling silly today.

10. Born To Be Mild

9.  Doctor My Eyes (and Ears, and stomach, and Back)

8.  I know Its Only Muzak, but I Like It

7.  Aint No Burrito Mild Enough

6.  After Midday

5.  Classical Gas

4.  Dedicated To the One I… Can’t Remember

3.  Moan-y Moan-y

2.  Lookin’ Out My Front Door (At The Kids Trampling My Lawn)

And the Number One Song for People My Age… Knock-Knock-Knockin’ on the Bathroom Door.

Monday, January 6, 2014


Does God have a sense of humor? I think so. After all, we are created in his image and likeness. Since God is Spirit, image and likeness refer to personality and abilities. Humor is as much a part of the human condition as altruism or creativity.

There are jokes in the Bible too. Most people miss them because they think religious things must be stuffy and dull. When Jesus talked about people gagging at a gnat but swallowing a camel, that was a joke not a spiritual description. My favorite joke in the Bible is found in Genesis 11, concerning the Tower of Babel. The people boldly declare, "let us build a tower who's top reaches into the heavens." God's response? "Let's go DOWN and see this thing."

I received a lesson in God's sense of humor when I was a young pastor. A woman came to church for counsel. She was distressed because her mother was sleeping with her husband. Today, this is a depressingly common occurrence, but thirty years ago in a small town it was scandal. I counseled the woman for months. I even talked to the husband and mother to no avail.

One day I was shopping at the grocery store. Mindlessly whistling a tune I pushed my cart down the aisles. As I perused the deli counter I felt eyes on me. Looking up, I found the wayward mother and husband starring daggers at me. I gave them a "whatever" look and moved on. I purchased my groceries and moved to the car. Standing over the open trunk I suddenly froze, a goofy grin on my face. I realized what I had been whistling in the store; Simon and Garfunkles "Mrs. Robinson."

Tell me God doesn't have a sense of humor.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013


This is one of my favorite Christmas videos. A beautifully rendered version of an old English carol by Sting. I think I like it primarily because it is unexpected.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013


I'm hearing from a lot of Christian parents who think the idea of Santa Claus is baad. They think it is their duty before God to shield their children from this cultural fantasy. Not only is it an evil, worldly myth, children must then endure the trauma of finding out their parents lied to them about St. Nick. These parents are taking steps to ensure that the Santa hoax is expunged from the Christian record.

...Yeah. As Dr. Bill Hendricks my theology professor used to caution us; don't get your exercise jumping to conclusions. I think it is rash, perhaps even harmful, to deny for our children  something their friends and classmates are celebrating. But that is the least of my reasons for standing up for the Jolly Fat man. The original Nicolas of Myra was a Christian bishop in the fourth century.  His benevolent gifts and actions are the basis of the Santa myth. Saint Nicolas, in one form or another, is recognized and loved around the world. Even the Godless, communistic Soviets couldn't stamp him out. Far from denying him, we ought to celebrate Nicolas as a Christian hero. His life should be emulated, not excoriated. 

Don't get me wrong, I understand the problem. The modern world of consumerism has taken old Nicolas hostage and made him over in its own image. Like a red velvet glove over a gold-plated fist, Santa Claus has become the sock puppet mouthpiece for every kind of greed and selfishness. That's true. It's been true for generations. It's not like we have to agree with it, or slavishly buy what the advertisers are selling us.

Okay, but what about the fact that Christmas is about Jesus, not Santa. We should not allow our children's affections to be subverted away from the true Reason for the Season. Okay, I'll stipulate the last two statements. I agree. But there is something fundamental that's being missed here. Trashing Santa ignores the developmental realities of childhood. Children learn through play and fantasy. You think an imaginary Santa is bad? I assume that means your children do not have Batman or Merida pajamas. Oh, and I'm sure you don't let them waste time playing with toys either. It's just Navigators Discipleship courses from the age of three, right? You know what I'm saying is true. Be careful of stifling your child's imagination and creativity.

The Santa story teaches children about generosity and giving to others. You say Jesus teaches that too? Sure, but we still teach our kids about King David, Zacchaeus and George Washington. That argument is shallow. Children fantasize about tangible things to help them understand the intangible.

Dr. Hendricks related a story to his students from his first pastorate. A Woman in his congregation told him how she scolded her grandson for having an imaginary friend. "You don't have an invisible friend," she chided. "There's no such thing." Later, they sat down to lunch. After saying grace, she looked up to see her grandson studying her face. "Who are you talking to grandma?"


Post Script: Be honest, were you REALLY devastated and traumatized when you discovered the truth about Santa Claus? I doubt it. Fantasy play is like that.

Sunday, December 8, 2013


Have you ever wondered why God is willing to use people who are less than perfect?

It’s simple. He doesn’t have any other kind to work with.

Friday, December 6, 2013


Christmas imagery is filled with Heavenly Choirs musically heralding the Savior's birth. One problem with that: it never happened. There is zero evidence that angels sing. I know, I know, I'm trampling all over your cherished childhood memories. Tough. It's simply not found in scripture.

But wait, what about the Heavenly choir at Bethlehem? There was none. Matthew's Gospel talks about the Magi, but no angels. It's Luke 2:8-12 that tells us about the angels:
"And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel SAID to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and SAYING,
   “Glory to God in the highest heaven,
   and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests

Then the angels left and went back to heaven.


Well, okay... What about IN HEAVEN? Ah, ha! like in Revelation. Nope. Sorry. In the great picture of worship around the heavenly throne of Revelation 4, the angels before God SAY, "Holy, Holy, Holy." 
In chapter 5, "...many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand. They encircled the throne and the living creatures and the elders. 12 In a loud voice they were SAYING: “Worthy is the Lamb."

Why? Why don't angels sing? I think it's because singing--music--is an inherently human action. Animals exist in the completely earthy realm. Angels exist in the purely spiritual realm. Humans are amphibians; we exist in both worlds at once. Music moves us; to joy, sorrow, sometimes to tears. We don't just play or sing music; we FEEL it. I don't believe angels truly comprehend music.

So, sorry I had to break your heart. But I take theology seriously. I take the same stand on other "doctrines of men" that have no foundation in scripture, as well.

IMPORTANT NOTE: I am speaking from a Biblical perspective. If you are an unbeliever, feel free to indulge your imagination. For those of you who claim to accept the Bible as God's Word, knock it off

Sunday, November 3, 2013


Jesus selected twelve men he would train over the three years of his ministry. He did not choose Priests or Rabbis. Nor did he choose Generals, or Kings. He chose ordinary working men to carry the Gospel message to the world. It’s still true today; God uses ordinary people to do his work.


Sunday, October 27, 2013



Among America's Founding Fathers why does the name of Benjamen Franklin stand out? I mean, he didn't defeat the British Army, like Washington. He didn't compose the Declaration of Independence, like Jefferson. Other than womanizing around France just what did Benny do? Think about it. Of all the names appended to that famous declaration, I'll bet the only one you're sure of is John Hancock. All the others have faded into the mists of time. So why do we remember Franklin?

I figure he had the greatest Press Agent in history. None of his myriad disasters were ever held against him. Every time he flopped face-first into the mud he came up smelling of roses. Don't believe me? Ha! That's because you are just another in the long line of suckers taken in by Franklin's Press Agent. Allow me to adduce some evidence.

First; Poor Richard's Almanac. Franklin wrote and edited that scandalous rag. I mean, c'mon! Aren't there already billions of poor people in the world? Do we really need an "Almanac for Dummies" to HELP people get poor? Hardly. But Benny's Press Agent made sure this piece of yellow journalism went down in history as some sort of great literature.

B; Franklin's Electric Kite. What a monstrous toy that was. "Here son, look what I got for your birthday. Why don't you go out and fly it in this storm? Be sure to hold on to the key!" ...And you thought lawn darts were dangerous. But does Franklin get any blame? Never. Why, he's a great American Inventor; that's what he is. Again, good press saves a shoddy reputation.

But the absolute cruelest invention Franklin ever foisted upon the young republic was Daylight Savings Time.
This evil concept still causes untold misery across these United States. Oh, sure; everybody loves Fall Back. Set your clocks back one hour and deceive your body. You can even stay up late and squander that extra hour. The next morning you'll wake up feeling great. Your body will thank you for "sleeping in." And you'll continue to enjoy that great feeling as your body grows accustomed to this luxury... Like a diver sinking deeper into the rapturous ocean depths. Ahh, the peaceful sleep of the long winter months.

Then Spring arrives. It's a time of rejoicing. Winter's icy grip begins to thaw and the world is fertile and green once more. Skip, tra-la! Yeah, but don't forget Mister Franklin's ticking time bomb. Like a diver coming to the surface without decompression, you suddenly lose an hour of sleep. Horror! Your body writhes in agony. "Why, oh why, are you doing this to me?" It's like Guido the Enforcer shows up at your door and beats those wonderful winter months of slumber out of your body.

Phooey! It's all a cruel joke, and I'm not looking forward to starting the cycle again this week. You may hail Benjamin Franklin as one of our greatest Founding fathers. I think his Press Agent just did a great job of image-building on an historic blunderer.