blog posts

Reaching Out

Photo by  Alexander Lam  on  Unsplash

As I mentioned in an earlier post on Thinking Out Loud, I’ve been posting to a few online publications on Medium. Here are posts and Bible studies I’ve revised, edited, and reformatted from previous posts on Word-Strong for the publication Koinonia.

Take some time to read, think, and respond if you’d like. Thanks for reading!


How is a Spark of Faith Ignited in a Person’s Heart?

What does it take for a person to become a believer in God? Is it a certain understanding?

How is a spark of faith ignited in a person’s heart?

I don’t know of one specific answer. In fact, when you ask a hundred different people how they came to believe, you may get a hundred different answers.

If you ask a theologian, he may give you one specific answer. But if you ask several different theologians and philosophers, you’ll get a gaggle of answers. Read more…


Photo by  Jon Tyson  on  Unsplash

Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

The Word of God in Person

My own darkness

The opening verses of the Gospel of John are important and significant to me. Though I believed in the existence of God from my youth, I had a nebulous, vague sense of God.

Throughout my teen and college years, I wandered in the darkness of my ignorance and whatever the world around me had to offer. Read more…


Photo by  Melissa Askew  on  Unsplash

How Acceptance of God Brings Acceptance and Inclusion

When does life begin — at conception or birth?

Before 1973, the obvious answer would be at conception but the Roe v Wade Supreme Court decision changed that in America. That decision may have changed people’s opinions but it didn’t change basic biology.

In Asia, age is generally determined by conception and the lunar calendar. For centuries and centuries in the rest of the world and biologically, conception is seen as the beginning of life.


Stop Trying So Hard to Be a Good Christian!

Bob Newhart has a hilarious comedy skit as a psychiatrist. His therapy is a simple, two-word solution for problems — “Stop it!” If you’ve never seen it, click on this link–Stop it! for a good laugh, but keep reading!

If only solving life’s problems were that simple—to just stop doing something. Well, in some ways it is. But many difficulties in life continue to trouble us. But why?

Why don’t we just stop doing not-such-good things in order to start doing better things? Read more…

Catching Up!

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Since I’m working on a couple of book projects and other things, I thought it good to catch y’all up with some posts I’ve done in Medium including two haiku poems (my first attempts).

Enjoy and thanks for reading!


© Ed Henderson Photos (IG– ed_henderson619)

© Ed Henderson Photos (IG– ed_henderson619)

Starry Wonder

A child’s wonder

lost in nighttime starry gaze

endless universe

https://medium.com/@tkbeyond/starry-gaze-4f162167d911


Out of the Ashes

Beauty for ashes, gladness instead of mourning

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denny-muller-1260019-unsplash.jpg

Fire!

“Sir, Ma’am…fire!” We popped out of bed disoriented and pumped with adrenalin. In the early morning darkness, somewhere around 4 am, Susan and I ran out of our room and saw the fire’s glow at the other end of the building where 24 children under our care slept soundly.

I grabbed the fire extinguisher as I ran to the back bedroom and began spraying at the flames. I could almost hear the fire laugh out loud at my feeble attempt to put it out.

I threw the emptied extinguisher on the floor and helped grab the babies in cribs closest to the fire. It was chaotic…intense heat…overwhelming.

We brought the babies and children out to the lawn in front of our building. As I ran back to rescue more children, I could hear the circuit breakers popping and cracking as sparks lit up our kitchen area.

My wife cried out with desperation, “Leanna!” Our teenaged daughter was trapped in her upstairs bedroom. “Go! I’ll keep getting the others!”

Susan dashed up the stairs. As she took hold of the doorknob, she cried out in anguish to our daughter over the roar of the flames and as the doorknob seared her hand.

They stumbled and crawled down the stairs through the smoke to where we gathered the children on the lawn.

A wrenching reality

As we counted the children and staff, a sickening realization wrenched our gut. We hadn’t gotten all the children out!

As Susan started to run back in, the intensity of the heat and spectacle of flames made it clear—no one else could be rescued. As she cried out, “My babies!” I restrained my wife from a desperate attempt to save those missing.

Some of our staff woke three of the older children but they fell back asleep. Two of the babies were consumed by the fire before we could reach them. We were stunned and in shock—mesmerized by the raging fire and tragic reality.

Thankfully, someone—a neighbor, a friend? We don’t know. But they backed the only vehicle we owned away from the building. It was an old car built to hold six to eight people.

We piled ourselves into and onto the car—nineteen babies and children and a few staff and our family.

As we drove into the darkness of the early morning, the firetruck arrived—too late to be of any help but to douse the twisted ruins of our children’s home.

As we drove out our driveway, dodging the firetruck and weaving through the onlooking neighbors, we headed to the only place of refuge we knew. All we had was each other and what we wore to bed.

We were stunned and in shock — mesmerized by the raging fire and tragic reality

Continue reading… Out of the Ashes


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raquel-pedrotti-775921-unsplash.jpg

Refreshed

fresh spring wildflowers

splashes of color refresh

reviving my soul

https://medium.com/haiku-hub/refreshed-92dbf48641b6


A Maligned Gift and Enduring Memorial

What do you have to offer Jesus?

Mary-anoints-Jesus Julius-Schnorr-von-Carolsfeld / Photo thanks to–  povcrystal.blogspot.com

Mary-anoints-Jesus Julius-Schnorr-von-Carolsfeld / Photo thanks to– povcrystal.blogspot.com

I read two posts a while ago about kindness and it got me thinking about how we may have differing personal views on kindness. This personal view involves our motives and intents — how and why we value kindness and perhaps what we consider as kindness.

A simple story found in three of the four gospels — Matthew, Mark, and John — reveals at least two different views on kindness. It also reveals the heart and character of two people — known for very different reasons.

I’ll give a synopsis of the story below but you can read it for yourself here — Matt 26:6–13Mark 14:3–9John 12:2–8.

A story of two hearts

Following the Lord’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem, at the beginning of the week and before the Passover Feast, a woman named Mary comes to anoint Jesus with an expensive ointment as He reclines at a meal given in His honor.

Lazarus, whom Jesus raised from the dead only a short while before this, reclined at the table with Jesus at the home of Simon the leper. Martha, the sister of Lazarus, is busy serving the guests as her sister Mary anoints Jesus with fragrant spikenard.

As the fragrance of the oil filled the room, it prompted a complaint and caused some dissension.

Why the complaint?

It was seen as a waste of money. Who complained? None other than Judas who would soon betray Jesus — the focus of this act of pure love.

Mary understood who Jesus was and expressed her love and devotion by sitting at the feet of Jesus as her sister Martha served. Once again, her devotion to Jesus caused some dissension. This time with her sister, Martha, who complained to Jesus about her workload because of Mary (Luke 10:38–42).

When Mary poured her oil on Jesus, it was an expression of love, a picture of true worship.

It’s as if she poured her soul out to honor Jesus. It was true kindness.

Continue reading… A Maligned Gift and Enduring Memorial


Spiritual Talk

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Can someone really hear God speak?

When you hear people say things like, “The Lord told me…,” do you wonder how this happens or if they really hear from God?

Do they have some mystical connection with God or are they just hearing voices? Or, is this just some spiritual sounding talk?

I’m really skeptical of anyone who says to me, “The Lord told me to tell you….” And yet, throughout the Bible, we read of God speaking to people.

This is a test…

Years ago, when I took courses to be certified as a substance abuse counselor, I needed to take the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI). Several questions dealt with hearing voices and God speaking.

The clinical bias of the test was that if you heard God speak, or heard any other voices, your mental stability was in question.

Since I understood this, I carefully picked my way through the test. And if you’re wondering — yes, I passed the test and my courses.

So, how is it possible to hear God’s voice and be in your right mind?

Continue reading… Spiritual Talk


3 Approaches to Cultural Shifts

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Finding a better way to approach cultural change

Culture is dynamic. Fluid. Fickle. Culture changes over time. Sometimes with extreme pendular swings. Popular culture is reflective of shared beliefs, values, and social norms.

Each swing of culture has its own trends like currents within an ocean or sea. These trends are movements within the larger cultural context.

People tend to respond in one of three general ways to pendular swings in culture — to reject, embrace, or engage each swing. Only one of these approaches is effective in bringing helpful change or productive dialogue.

These pendular swings have one fixed point — human nature.

Though these swings may be wide or wild extremes, it all pivots on self — our basic nature. Not our identity but our being — our innate essence which centers around self-preservation.

Cultural swings have one fixed point — human nature


Continue reading… 3 Approaches to cultural shifts

Hunkering Down!

Sometimes our plans get interrupted by life, and sometimes it's a weather interruption. Because we live so close to the coast (5 blocks from the beach), we evacuated to our son's home inland a ways.

We did our best to set things in order and get as much off the ground as we could, but how do you prepare for 100+ miles/hour winds and the potential of several feet of storm surge?

I'm writing this while we've got power, so we'll see how our home fares in the next few days as hurricane Matthew spins through our area.