Will you be happy in that little place in the mountains?

Will you be happy in that little place in the mountains?

A friend of mine put a picture of a rustic little house in the mountains on Facebook.  The little place could have sprung straight from a Thomas Kinkaide or Currier and Ives type photo.

And I could see myself living there, walking around all day wearing blue jeans and a flannel shirt, chopping wood, killing squirrels (bears are too mean) and living life as it was meant to be lived.

It makes you kind of weepy just thinking about it.

Only problem is: I’ve found that rustic places are often more fun to look at than to live in. Continue reading

Humbled In Order To Be Exalted?

How would you like to be in an airplane flying at 20,000 feet when the pilot says, “We are now going to climb to our cruising altitude of 32,000 feet.” Fine to this point.

Then you look out the window and the plane is pointed downwards. An optical illusion? Who knows, but it looks like you’re going down to 15,000 feet, then five thousand, then boom!

And you open your eyes and you’re cruising at 30,000 feet.

“There’s got to be an easier way to do this,” you think.

In this world you don’t get down to get up; you don’t go left to get to the right side of a thing. In God’s Kingdom, though, things go exactly the opposite of this world (because we’re a mirror-image of his reality and a mirror image reflects left as right).

Christ Jesus:
Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death—
even death on a cross!

Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2:5-11 NIV)

Who would have thought that the Cross was the way to glory? What mama tells her son, “Listen, boys if you want to be good and remembered as someone important and famous in a good way, you’ve gotta rob, murder, rape and destroy. People will really like you, then. They’ll hang you.”

Maybe the mama of the Dalton gang did that, but the rest of the mamas probably encouraged their sons to be the president or the boss, and to accomplish great things so that they would be respected and admired.

So, who would have imagined that the way to eternal glory for the Son of God would pass by the ignominy and horror of the Cross? Who would have imagined the promises God made to Joseph would first pass through the prison or that the anointing of David to be king would be confirmed by years of running and hiding in caves?

Just to remind you, don’t be so quick to think that God has forgotten you if you feel like you’re being crucified. My experience is that the promises of God have to die before they can live.

“Listen carefully: Unless a grain of wheat is buried in the ground, dead to the world, it is never any more than a grain of wheat. But if it is buried, it sprouts and reproduces itself many times over.” (John 12:24, The Message)

You may feel like you’re crashing today, but don’t be surprised if you don’t eventually end up cruising at 32,000 feet. God’s Kingdom marches to a different drummer.

“Check your list one more time. Is there any impossible thing in the works?” —by Steve May, author, speaker, preacher

Sheepherder of the Autobahn

To see a few pictures of the adventure described below, click on this link:

I thought you might be interested to learn that I’ve started a second career on the side. I’ve become a sheepherder. But not just any kind of sheepherder—I herd sheep on the autobahn in Germany.

Let me explain.

The last two weeks we were in Luxembourg filling in for a pastor on vacation, and taking advantage of our presence there to visit some of our old haunts. When we lived in the Grand Duchy, we loved to slip across the border into Germany and follow the Moselle river up to the city of Cochem. The Moselle follows a picturesque valley of vineyards, forests, and well-tended villages and cities, some with buildings dating back a half millennium or more. Makes me feel as if I’m in a storybook.

This time we decided to go directly to Cochem, spend the night, and follow the river back the next day. So that’s how we found ourselves hurtling up the autobahn, when suddenly traffic slowed, then stopped. What was the problem? As we looked ahead on the road we were shocked to see a little flock of sheep that had wandered onto our two lanes. A few seconds more and there would have been lamb chops flying in all directions (probably hubcaps and fenders as well).

Now they were huddling together in fear as traffic came to a halt just in front of them. I passed and pulled off to the side to help a few others who tried to herd them back towards the guardrail. That was no problem. The problem was that the fleecy airheads didn’t seem to grasp that they could bend down just a little and pass underneath, just as they had done to enter the dangerous area.

Sprechen sie deutsch?

One of my fellow shepherds was telephoning and she jabbered something to me in German. I have an extensive German vocabulary. It consists of “Jah!” and I usually say it a lot while shaking my head “yes” when I’m in Germany. No, actually I can do a bit better than that. I think she was calling the police and asking me what the closest town was. “Jah!”

Finally, though, the deed was done and our hairy intruders passed to the other side of the rail. I felt like “Babe.”

“Well done, pig.”

You know what amazed me? It was the lack of complaint of the huge traffic jam of people who waited patiently while we “Little Bo Peeped” the sheep out of the road. No honking. No yelling. No signs of impatience. There just seemed to be a lot of compassion for those poor, lost sheep. But I ask you, were those sheep so worthy of compassion?

A bit farther up the autobahn we saw a huge herd of sheep in a field next to the road on the other side. That was probably where our little varmints came from. I tried to imagine what had happened. “Hey guys. We’re never going to find anything fresh to eat here,” a rare leader among them might have said. “There’s thousands of us. And these others keep tromping on my grass. It’s kind of stomach turning when you try to eat it. I’m getting out of here.”

“Are you sure it’s alright?” blink nine other sheep nearby who hear him. “Sure, I saw a gap that leads to the best pastures you could ever dream of back up yonder. Come on follow me. Let’s get out of here while no one is looking.”

“Well, if you say so …”

So there go ten sheep, slinking away from the multitude. Sneak, sneak. “Baaaaaah!” “Shut up!” Sneak, sneak, sneak. “Baaaah!” “Be quiet.”

Until finally they pass through an opening under the autobahn and end up, you know where. I ask you, did they really deserve our compassion?j

When we finally arrived in Cochem, I saw a tourist bus that was evidently lost and had tried to turn into a narrow street. Traffic was partially blocked and at least two of the motorists gave the harried bus driver an impatient, “hoooonk!” as they made their way around him. “People have more compassion for sheep than they do for each other,” I remarked to my wife.

Unfortunately that’s true. I read an article in the paper this week and the columnist talked about the cruel way some animals are kept in a tiny cage before they are slaughtered for our tables. I agreed but couldn’t help but think that this same man would favor taking the lives of unborn babies. Hmmm…

Some men’s hearts are touched when they see a lady crying from frustration in a movie but they explode in anger when their own wife weeps. Some ladies are ready to give their favorite movie stars a second chance but they don’t extend the same favor to the person that they’ve pledged to live their lives with. Some people are all smiles to those they work with and all frowns to those they live with.

We suffer from selective compassion. I’m glad God isn’t like that, aren’t you? He wants to express His character through us:

“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.” (Ephesians 4: 31-32, The Message).

“So, chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline. Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense. Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you. And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It’s your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it.” (Col. 3:12-14, The Message).

If you live that way you’ll be smarter than a sheep.


“We look at our watches; God looks at the calendar.” Andy Stanley

Paris Redlights

Traffic lights are sneaky critters.

There must be a million of them in Paris and most of them glow a brilliant green—until I get close to them, that is. Then they maliciously turn red just before I arrive. I can imagine an alert that goes through the whole traffic system of this city and its suburbs when I get in my car, “Porter vient de quitter la maison.” (Porter just left his house).

All the traffic lights on my projected route rub their hands in anticipation.

I see a light in the distance sporting a cheery green countenance. My foot pushes a bit harder on the accelerator. “Stay, don’t turn …” I command silently as the light continues to wear it’s positive face. “Stay … stay (almost there) …staaaay …. Ai yi yi. No!” It changes just before I arrive and all the lights in the area giggle happily.


The other night I decided to count the traffic lights coming back from the church and to note the number which were red. I figured it would be something like 99% of a million.

Well … there are 55 stop lights between church and where I live–39 of them were green. That’s not normal, though. They knew what I was doing and they conspired because they knew I was going to tell you the results. I mean, ten of the first eleven lights were green! Don’t you smell a rat somewhere?

I’ve got to admit, though, as frustrating as life can be with traffic lights it would be horrible without them.

Life Without Redlights

One morning when we lived in Luxembourg, I came to a major intersection near a place called the “Glacis” and the lights weren’t working. A convention of husbands in a maternity shop couldn’t have been more confused than the twisted gaggle of cars trying to get through.

Traffic stood nearly still. One or two hardy motorists tried to direct the honking mass through the intersection. I had to admit that a red light would have been welcome.

Life is like that isn’t it? Some wise-guy once commented, “Everything that’s fun is either fattening or sinful!” Does it ever seem to you that the Lord is like a traffic cop, shrilling whistle in his mouth, hand raised in an eternal “stop” gesture?

If God has told us not to do something, there is a reason. He wants the best for us and he knows how we are made. Good sense urges us to acknowledge that His laws are right. For instance, the Lord forbids adultery. Is that to torture someone when he “falls in love” with someone he’s not married to? Or is it to protect others close to him from having their hearts torn in two when he acts out his egotistical cravings? Maybe God wants to teach us to keep our word with others, and keep our word to Him, because adultery cowardly crushes some solemn covenants.

The Lord has prohibited stealing among his people. Any idea why? Lies, disrespect to parents, vulgar language, jealousy, pride, all forms of dishonesty, dealings in the occult, backstabbing, and gossip—the Lord tells us to stay away from all these.

To Protect Us
Do you think these red-lights are there to hurt us–or to protect us and those around us?

No one likes to stop, but the world wouldn’t work very well without rules. God created the universe and he set everything in motion. He knows how it’s supposed to function, so maybe we ought to obey Him. There are heavy “fines” for those who run God’s red-lights.

“Don’t be misled: No one makes a fool of God. What a person plants, he will harvest. The person who plants selfishness, ignoring the needs of others—ignoring God!—harvests a crop of weeds. All he’ll have to show for his life is weeds! But the one who plants in response to God, letting God’s Spirit do the growth work in him, harvests a crop of real life, eternal life.” (Gal. 6: 7, 8 The Message)

I’m still not happy, though, when I’m fiddling time away in front of a light. Do you realize that if I stop 20 times going to church and twenty times back, that’s forty stops? Figure just 30 seconds each time, that’s twenty minutes. Multiply that by three times a week that I drive in for church … hmmm, let’s see … an hour a week twiddling my thumbs in front of redlights! Times 50 weeks (two off for vacation) — that’s 50 hours a year. What? 50 hours !

Sputter, sputter, sputter…red lights!