Thursday, September 9, 2021




1.  If you want to put off accepting that you are old, avoid mirrors.

2.  Wear comfortable shoes.  Always.  No matter what they look like.

3.  Talk to yourself, especially when you need good advice about things like what to wear or what to eat or what movie to watch on Netflix.

4.  ALWAYS hold handrails when going up or down stairs. (Yes, you can fall upstairs.)

5.  Offer to take a grandkid out to eat if you want to chat. Also offer to give them rides when they need them. (NB, enjoy this while you can because it will not be as effective after they learn to drive.)

6.  Be very careful not to offend your friends by calling them “old folks” even if you think of them that way.

7.  Do something constructive every day before you read or watch TV. This is how you avoid feeling guilty when you sit down.

8.  Go to bed early and get up early. Your best sleep comes before midnight.

9.  Go out to run errands early in the morning, before all the young ones wake up and get in your way.

10. Buy things in small containers. You will be able to use them up before they spoil and they will be easier to lift.

11. Put things you use often at waist level and, whenever possible, in plain sight.

12. To avoid unnecessary tripping, be very careful around cats.

13. Use a nightlight on the path to the bathroom.

14. If you live alone, put a baseball bat under your bed and make a plan to use it in case of emergency. (NB: you will rarely need to activate this plan but it will make you feel safer to have one.)

15. Write lists of things you need to remember and try to remember where the lists are.

16. Do only one thing at a time to maximize the pleasure of the experience: do not eat and watch TV at the same time; do not play spider solitaire while engaging in small talk with a friend on the phone; do not cook things on the stove and walk away to do something else (for obvious reasons).

17. As much as lieth in you, discover and use whatever communication application the people you love will notice. Update this info regularly for maximum effectiveness.

18. Find a comfortable pace and think, move, and live in that rhythm. This will lower your blood pressure, help you avoid accidents, and allow you to smell the flowers along the way.

19. Pray without ceasing. At this stage of life you need that more than ever. (Actually, that’s not quite true. Prayer has always been essential, but now you are wise enough to realize that.)

20. Enjoy memories and anticipate heaven, but discipline yourself to live in the present moment.

Otherwise you will miss those lovely flowers along the way.

Friday, August 6, 2021


Today, for my quiet time, I am reading an ancient text, written over 2500 years ago, on the topic of conspiracy theories. Apparently, there was a plethora of them buzzing around when Isaiah wrote His diatribe, about and to, the rebellious nation of Israel just before they were conquered by stronger enemies and their people were disbursed into the far corners of the known world.


This is an ancient story, but it seems unnervingly relevant to us living in North America today.


I should not be surprised. This whole ancient collection of books that make up our Bible constantly surprises me with its contemporary relevance.


This may be because the Bible is full of stories that unflinchingly portray human nature, which seems not to have changed a bit since the beginning of time. But the Book portrays more than human nature. It also shows the nature of the God who created human beings and cares, deeply and doggedly, about them.


Isaiah’s book is a commentary on what God’s rebellious people were going through and would continue to go through if they didn’t smarten up and listen. 


Israel was surrounded by enemies and they were so confused that they didn’t know where to start attacking. They were not even sure who was an enemy and who was not. Hence the theories.  And they probably squabbled among themselves over the theories instead of sitting back, recognizing the problem, and reaching out for the solution.


In chapter 8, Isaiah tries to tell them both the problem and the solution. The problem is that they are putting confidence in their own ability to solve the problem instead of recognizing their inability to do that and looking to their Creator to help them.


God is angry.  At everyone.  At His chosen representatives on earth and also at their enemies. Things are in turmoil and His message, through Isaiah, begins with a classic literary example of verbal irony. *


God says:   Make an uproar and be broken in pieces, O you peoples [rage, raise the war cry, do your worst, and be utterly dismayed]! Give ear, all you [enemies] of far countries. Gird yourselves [for war] and be thrown into consternation! Gird yourselves, and be utterly dismayed! (vs. 9, 10)


Then Isaiah says, “For the Lord spoke thus to me with His strong hand [upon me], and warned and instructed me not to walk in the way of this people, saying,” Do not call conspiracy [or hard, or holy] all that this people will call conspiracy [or hard, or holy]; neither be in fear of what they fear, nor [make others afraid and] in dread.


The Lord of hosts—regard Him as holy and honor His holy name [by regarding Him as your only hope of safety] and let Him be your fear and let him be your dread [lest you offend Him by your fear of man and distrust of Him]. (vs. 12, 13)


Isaiah goes on to say, about this loving, angry, holy God, And He shall be a sanctuary [a sacred and indestructible asylum to those who reverently fear and trust in Him]; but He shall be a Stone of Stumbling and a Rock of Offense to both the houses of Israel, a trap and a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem.] And many among them shall stumble thereon; and they shall fall and be broken and be snared and taken. (vs. 14, 15)


Alas, the Israelites didn’t get it. They were too busy formulating and espousing conspiracy theories, none of which involved or even considered the activities of the God of the universe—the indestructible asylum. So they went into exile.  


It feels like we’re all in exile these days. Disoriented, confused, anxious--afraid of anything and everything. We are literally at loose ends.


But there is an answer.  It’s the one God gave the Israelites (and us) in another of those ancient books that have been passed down to us today.


Proverbs 3:1-6 says:   My son, forget not my law or teaching, but let your heart keep my commandments; for length of days and years of a life [worth living] and tranquility [inward and outward and continuing through old age till death], these shall they add to you. 


Let not mercy and kindness [shutting out all hatred and selfishness] and truth [shutting out all deliberate hypocrisy or falsehood] forsake you; bind them about your neck, write them upon the tablet of your heart.


So shall you find favor, good understanding and high esteem in the sight [or judgment] of God and man.


Lean on, trust in, and be confident in the Lord with all your heart and mind and do not rely on your own insight or understanding.  In all your ways know, recognize, and acknowledge Him, and He will direct and make straight and plain your paths. 


Be not wise in your own eyes; reverently fear and worship the Lord and turn [entirely] away from evil.


It shall be health to your nerves and sinews, and marrow and moistening to your bones.


The only answer to our human angst, today as it always has been, is to attach ourselves to the One firm foundation—the only Rock that will not move underneath us, ever. 


*All verses are taken from the Amplified translation of the Bible.

Saturday, June 19, 2021

Chess, Spider Solitaire and the Rubix Cube, or Deep thoughts on the meaning of the universe.


In this blog post I am going to digress, for a moment, from a pursuit of the meaning of my life in order to pursue the meaning of the universe.


I realize that's quite a leap--one might even say a significant one--but I can't help but feel there might be a connection between the two in the end. 


My pursuit of the meaning of the universe came about the other day while I was pondering the meaning of my life and playing spider solitaire while I waited for inspiration.  I began to ask myself, "What do chess, spider solitaire and the Rubix cube have in common?" 


There might be several things those games have in common, but the one that struck me is that they are all concerned with putting things in their proper places--getting things to their perfect final homes.  Finding meaning, order and purpose, you might say.


But even more than the pursuit of that ultimate goal, the solutions in all of these puzzles require--yes, require--that things be put in wrong positions before they can work their way toward the proper places. And this is a great frustration.


It is very hard for me to deliberately put things where they don't belong. I am so impatient.  When I see a Ten of Clubs that can easily be placed on a Jack of the same suit, my fingers immediately want to put it there. 


Never mind that the card has to be placed on a Jack of Diamonds temporarily in order to uncover an Ace of Spades, so the Ace of Spades can be put on the Two of Spades, in order to open up a vacancy in the piles of cards that will give me more maneuverability, which will, in turn, eventually allow me to get that Ten of Clubs on the Jack of Clubs where it belongs.


I have to commit what feels like intellectual suicide to move a bishop next to a powerful knight, even though I know it will be safe there, because the rules of the game won't allow the knight to pounce in that direction.


And the Rubix cube.  Don't even make me go there.  The mess I have to make in order to put the colors together in the end drives me crazy. I don't do Rubix for that reason. It's not worth the mental anguish in my well-ordered mind.


But it has occurred to me that these games, and the strategies necessary to win them, are great metaphors for the complex development of human history. For reasons too numerous to recount here, I am convinced of the existence of a "Grand Chess Player" who not only stands outside the universe, but who created it in the first place.


It makes a strange kind of sense to me that this Grand Master is playing the game, according to precise rules He has also created, not only for His pleasure, but also for ours--for the pleasure of us creatures who have been created, in another strange sense, in His image.  


In other words, He has planned and created it all for a purpose.  

What if we have been created for pleasure? 

For our pleasure and for His. 

For the pleasure of playing the game, but more importantly, for the pleasure of the fellowship--the companionship that we experience during the playing.


This is wonderfully mind-blowing: to see human history as one giant chess game, played out on the board of planet earth, in which an innumerable number of moves have been, and are being made by each of the billions of humans who have lived here over the centuries, in concert with counter-moves being played by the Creator, who sees every possible iteration and knows how the game will finally be won, by Him, for the benefit of everyone who chooses to play the game in partnership with Him.


An even more mind-blowing idea, however, is that the Creator of the game, the board, and the humans, chose to make those humans free agents, capable of choosing what moves they want to make, with no regard for, or awareness of, the Grand Design--humans who once were clued into the Grand Design but lost their understanding when they decided they would rather play by their own rules instead of the rules of the Grand Designer.


Well, we have not quite lost all of that awareness. Humans do still have some idea of the Grand Design.  They see it in the stars, in the intricate interactions between genes and cells and chemicals and Carbon that make up an infinite variety of life forms living on the great game board, which in itself exhibits order and design.  We see the design, but not the purpose.


Well, not quite again. There are useful hints as to the purpose, if not in the miracles of the natural world, then in the supernatural miracles, one of which is the miraculous preservation, in words, of the revelation of purpose--the rules of the game, so to speak--that we call the Bible.


This Book is amazing.  I've spent almost 70 years reading and studying it and I still can't get enough. It's as if the words are alive and speaking aloud into my spirit.


At the same time the meaning is often elusive, which only drives me to dig deeper. It's like scuba diving in the tropics. You want to go as far as your equipment and your body will allow, even as you realize there are depths you will not be physically able to discover.


A superficial reading of this Great Book is deceptive. At first read, the stories and teachings and insights just don't make sense. It's as if you have to layer some of them over others, where they obviously don't belong, in order to uncover clues to greater understanding.


Much of the Book is simply an historical narrative--a history of the human race.  As such, it, too, doesn't seem to make sense.  Everything humans have put anywhere seems always to end up in the wrong place. 


How can anyone make any sense of David, the great Jewish King and biblical song writer, committing the worst kind of sin imaginable, and then--wait for it--being forgiven when he is repentant? 


Or King Saul, David's predecessor, who was put on the throne by the Grand Master, then deposed almost immediately, simply for the error of being too impatient with the time it was taking his opponent--the Great Master, Himself--to make His next move?


Mystery beyond mystery.  No wonder the Book is often abandoned by bewildered readers before they even get a start on plumbing its depths. We are too impatient to look behind the confusing, often irrational moves of the players for an underlying strategy. 


And we are offended when the strategy sometimes requires pawns to be sacrificed in order to achieve the final victory.  

(Why do I have to give up my dreams in order to fulfill dreams the Creator has for me?)


Why do knights need to be placed uncomfortably close to bishops on their way to the front?

(Why do I have to put up with that annoying co-worker, or that annoying spouse?)


Why do queens have to fall because they have inadvertently been moved into the line of fire of a forgotten rook or, even more frustrating, been placed in a position that allows them to be eliminated by a pawn in a simple one-space move?

(Why can't you always rescue me from the consequences of my worst stupid mistakes?)


But those are the rules, and we are taught that they have to be obeyed if the whole game is to make any sense at all in the end.


And what if, from high enough above the chessboard, with a bird's eye view, the whole thing actually does make sense? 


In school we learn history taught by human historians. It's a two-dimensional understanding of the narrative. The story is recorded in documents that have been compiled from a few primary, and a lot of secondary, sources, analyzed and interpreted and constantly revised by many human minds over the centuries in an attempt to make some sense of the meaning of it all.


But what if the Bible gives us a three-dimensional view of human history? What if it adds another layer of meaning? What if, as it claims to do, the Bible gives us the Creator's perspective on human history and the meaning of the universe? 


If there's even a chance that it does, it would make sense to pay more careful attention to the Book, wouldn't it?


Because if the Bible really is what it claims to be--the Creator's revelation of Himself to the human beings He has created in His image--then nothing--absolutely nothing--could be a more important intellectual pursuit than this one.


Thursday, June 10, 2021

First World Problems


 I have a First World problem: I have lost my TV remote. I've looked everywhere--around the house, in the garage (which is so cluttered it could easily be there without my seeing it) and even in the garden shed, where I spent some time yesterday. I'm concerned about this because if there is a way to watch TV without using the remote I have no idea what it is.


My sister suggested looking in the fridge where she found hers the other day.  I did that, out of desperation, even though I couldn't imagine myself being quite that ditzy (my sister is a blond, after all), but it wasn't there either.


My best friend suggested the loss might be a case of divine intervention. I know she's kidding, sort of, but I have to admit that thought had occurred to me. I have been more or less addicted to the TV lately. It's an easy go-to antidote for COVID ennui.


It also occurs to me that boredom, itself, might be a First World Problem.


It might not be at the top of the list of problems in India, for example, where masses of people are anxiously helpless in the face of COVID, or in parts of Africa, where civil wars constantly create a rather pressing kind of tension and excitement, or in Iran where you can be executed for converting from Islam to Christianity.


But in my world, boredom attacks whenever I have nothing to do, and, as I've mentioned in my previous two posts, I struggle with an overwhelming feeling that I always have to be DOING something.  Simply "being" without "doing" is difficult for me.


Interestingly, John Comer has some challenging things to say about boredom in his book, The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry.  For some reason he connects hurry with boredom, and I think he might be right to do so.  He points out how quickly we hurry to eliminate boredom in our lives, especially in this digital age when distractions are literally at our fingertips. And he suggests that trying to eliminate boredom with distractions is not the proper approach.


Instead of avoiding times of boredom, he recommends the spiritual practice of Silence. Practicing silence requires us to quit fighting against inactivity. When we do that, we create an empty space in our hearts that God can fill with good things.  Things that would pass right over our heads when we are busy doing less refreshing things.


It's not surprising that boredom seems to be a universal human problem today, at least in our part of the world where the basic needs of human survival are more accessible than in other places.  Everyone seems to be running from anxiety of one kind or another. I believe a general, overarching angst hovers over any society that is not grounded in a positive worldview, and ours certainly is not.


So I'm thinking about it lately--asking why and how boredom happens. Were we created to experience boredom? Or is boredom a symptom of a deeper problem we were not created to experience? And more to the point, what should we do with boredom?


Comer tells us Christians that we are to imitate Jesus--to follow Him--to mimic his ways of living.  We're called to do this because we believe He lived the way human beings were created to live.


I am pretty sure Jesus was never bored.  It just doesn't seem like He would be.  So why not?  If I want to live like He lived then I need to understand how He did this.


In my next post I will continue this topic, and suggest, for your consideration, one cure for boredom based on how Jesus lived.   

There may be a couple of others.  If so, there will be more posts.  We'll see how far we can go with this topic.

Sunday, June 6, 2021

What On Earth Am I Here For?

Reading further in my March 24th journal entry:


Today it seems like I am reaching a climax in my search for what I am supposed to be doing instead of just killing time.  It's like I need answers to this question so badly I will (finally) quit trying to escape into activities, or mental distractions, and confront Him a final time for the answer.


I have spent the morning sorting through some books to put in the church library. I had been fasting, but I finally heated my coffee and fixed some breakfast. As I sat eating and looking out the window, I told the Lord (or was He telling me?) that I had done all I could to settle this issue of what I needed to be doing. 


I suspect He was thinking that it was about time.  (Please excuse the pun.)


I have been reading in John 15 about Jesus being the vine and us being the branches. It seemed God wanted to remind me that it was HE who chose me, for fruit-bearing, whatever that looks like.


This thought seemed to take the onus off of me for figuring out what I should be doing, so I just kind of gave up on hearing what I was supposed to do next. Then I went back to my book sorting.


The next book on the pile was Secrets of the Vine by Bruce Wilkinson. I had started this book before and left a bookmark at the beginning of the chapter, "More of God, More With God." In it the author shares his journey at the point where, though his ministry is thriving, he has lost his excitement with it and has to figure out why.


He says, "Does any of my story ring true for you? . . .You have a good amount of fruit Yes, I have seen God working through me in many ways lately . . .you feel caught between two opposing tensions--an increasing desire to produce an even better yield and decreasing fulfillment in the fruit you are already producing."


He goes on to say, "You are ready for that fourth basket, the one so full of luscious grapes that it is overflowing. Yet you feel frustrated, defeated, and in danger of losing the harvest of a lifetime. And you have no idea what to do." Yup. that's me for sure.


Then he gets to the point: "His purpose is not that you will do more FOR Him but that you will choose to be more WITH Him." To be more WITH Him?


I'm not totally clear where this idea will take me but it seems I have to re-adjust my focus. Out of a great love for Him--one that He has planted in my heart--I have longed to do FOR Him--to fulfill the purposes for which He chose me. But maybe that longing has outstripped my desire just to be WITH Him?


Maybe the simple truth is that whatever I do FOR Him has to come out of my simply abiding IN Him. This means I have to transfer my trust from me, and what I can DO, to Him, and WHO HE IS.


I will have to think about this.

Saturday, June 5, 2021

On Killing Time

 I've decided to start blogging some of my journal entries here.


I'm a bit nervous about this, because when I journal I often go so deeply into my thinking that I wonder if what I say will make sense to anyone else. Or even to me in the end. Am I just musing myself into some wasteland of random thoughts that I will one day read over, scratch my head and wonder where I was coming from?


But lately some of my entries have made a little bit of sense and even helped me enter deeper into my walk with God, so I will share those with you, my reader.  Feel free to pick and choose. If there is anything that resonates with you, take it, and just leave the rest.


This March (2021) I began a new journal. It has been a strange year, immediately following the last strange year: two years like no other this generation has ever experienced, all over the globe. If nothing else, COVID has stopped the world in its tracks. It has forced us to slow down, give up, and take stock of our lives.


The slowing down, giving up, and taking stock has actually been a good by-product of this plague experience for me. It has opened up some new avenues in my spiritual journey.


Here's my March 24th entry:


It's near the end of Spring Break and I am spending my time doing nothing. At the beginning of the break I was going from one form of activity to the next--from Netflix to reading to Facebook to household chores and back to Netflix again. But more and more I have been feeling led to let those things all go and do nothing. This is very hard for me. It has been a struggle.


I am driven by the need to perform and produce. I "need" to always be doing something. I'm surprised Maslow didn't put this one on his pyramid of human needs. I think this may be a common experience for us all.


So a week and a half of this struggle to embrace nothingness has gone past. On Wednesday of the second week, with only a few days of Spring Break to go, I am finally, reluctantly coming to the conclusion that, for some reason, God wants me to quit just doing stuff. Useless stuff.


I have been asking God the whole time to tell me what useful stuff He wants me to do. I feel I'm at a crossroads in my life's journey right now and my next task is unclear. It's been frustrating because I haven't heard anything from Him.


Can you relate? What has your COVID experience been like in this regard? 


More of my experience in tomorrow's post. I don't want to exhaust you with reading today.


Saturday, May 8, 2021

Ways To Peace #2

My previous post talked about how to find peace in the middle of the mess of our lives, but it didn't really answer the "how to" part of the title!

That post talks about the fear that drives us, especially in this anxious day and age, and claims that God does not mean for us to live in fear. This post will give you the promised 10 ways I have found to conquer fear in my life.

Sometimes anxiety comes over us without an obvious reason. We have no idea why. Perhaps a little hint of a fear creeps into our thinking sideways, as an afterthought, or a quiet suggestion, and before we catch it and pluck it out, it has grown into an anxious worry.

A while ago I struggled with an unexplainable cloud of anxiety and heaviness. I have no idea why. There was no logical reason for this disruption to my normal state of restful trust in a good God.

My circumstances had not changed. And He had certainly not changed. I was well cared for, as usual. He had carried me through my whole life without once stumbling or hesitating, and He has promised He will carry my to the end of my life on this earth, and beyond. I had no reason to fear. My anxiety was a waste of time and, once I noticed it was bothering me, I wanted it gone.

I know by experience that if I can look up--if I can get only a glimpse of His lovely face, the anxiety will disappear and the peace and joy that I'm supposed to be experiencing will come back. It always does. So I experimented with ways to look up.

Here are ten practices I've discovered that gradually brought me out of a place of extreme anxiety into a place of peace. It is no accident that most of them emphasize the importance of that central book in the Good Book, the Book of Psalms:

1. Find the "Do not fear" verses. Those 365 verses that say "Do Not Fear" are God's encouragements to us to look up. So the first thing we can do to overcome our anxiety is turn to His Book. Use a concordance, or a website like Got or Bible Gateway.

But don't just find them. . .

2. Read through the DNF verses. When you are anxious, read these "DNF" verses, one by one, slowly, until you come to one that speaks expressly to you. You will know when that happens because that particular verse will immediately relieve you of your fear. It's God getting up and personal with you.

3. Memorize the DNF verses. Obviously, using the verses works better if you have them memorized. If you don't, choose one and repeat it over and over (including the address) until you can say it by heart, in the deep, dark of night. Then start learning another one, by heart.

4. Read the anxious Psalms--ones that express fear and pain and doubt--and realize that you are not alone. Anxiety is part of the (unredeemed) human condition and has been since the Fall of Man. Often simply expressing your anxiety in God's presence relieves it. And when you don't have words--when you are too anxious to even think--reading the Psalmist's poetic expression of his anxiety will give voice to your inner pain.

5. Read any of the Psalms. Start anywhere in the Book and read one poem after the other, until you find peace settling into your soul. David wrote half of the Psalms and he had a gift of bringing relief from anxiety. That's why King Saul would call him in to play for him whenever he felt oppressed by the evil one. Most of the Psalms that we know David wrote are at the beginning of the Book.

Speaking of the evil one. . .

6. Speak Truth into the face of your enemy. Read the enemy psalms. Many of the Psalms pronounce victory over our enemies, and our biggest enemy--the one who loves to see us smothered in anxiety--is actually God's enemy, the Devil. He hates us because we are loved by the God he hates. Reading--no, praying--the "enemy Psalms" is powerful spiritual warfare. It brings Truth to light, and when Truth comes, oppression and darkness cannot stay.

7. Read the first verse or two of every Psalm, starting at the beginning. Most of the Psalms begin with praise to God. This is good heart medicine. Repeated praise reinforces the Truth of ultimate victory in our lives. It will lift our hearts and open them to the ultimate reality, which is all good.

8. Spend much concentrated time reading other books of the Bible as well. The Psalms are not the only places to find comfort and reassurance in the Bible. Every one of the 66 books, even though most of them record disastrous events in our past human history, has a message of hope and ultimate victory if we are willing to embrace it. Romans 8, John 14, and the Book of Job (taken as a whole) are three great examples of encouraging and uplifting passages that speak Truth into our lives.

9. Listen to uplifting music. Find calming or reassuring worship songs that you like and play, listen and sing them to yourself. When one particular one brings you special peace, meditate on that one all day long. Here's a link to a great selection.  If you don't know where to find them, a youtube site like Hillsong Worship is a good place to start.

10. Ask a friend to pray for you. This last suggestion is a good one too. Don't overlook it. Call a friend, let them know you are struggling and ask them to look to God for help on your behalf. Ask them to pray, right then, out loud. Hearing someone else say what you want to say but cannot will help to activate your faith, and God has promised that when we call He will answer.

You don't have to adopt all of these practices.  Adopt the ones that appeal to you, or work for you.  But be sure to pick at least one of the Scripture ones.  I have no apologies for repeating how important Scripture is to our mental well being. 

Christians believe the Bible is God's Word, supernaturally inspired to tell us what Truth really is. It has been the gold standard of Truth for well over 2000 years, surviving every vacillating "wind of doctrine" put forth by human beings--reflecting whatever contemporary cultural mindset currently captures the attention of the masses.

And a firm Truth foundation is ultimately the only cure for anxiety. That kind of foundation must be grounded in something, or Someone, outside the realm of space and time. In our space and time world, nothing will last forever, but outside this realm of four dimensions is a reality that is everlasting.

Christians believe Jesus was talking about that kind of foundation when He told the parable of the two houses--one built on a rock and one built on the sand. (Matthew 7:24-27)

Jesus, Himself, is our Rock. A life grounded in Him is one that will never be shaken by the storms of life. Because He bought eternity for us by His death on the cross, a person who chooses to commit their life to Him will live happily ever after.

Yes. Such a life is not a fairy tale when it's grounded in Truth!

By the way, I assume you know that the words underlined in this post are linked to their websites.  They are clickable.  So click away! And be blessed.