"So," they say, "nobody's perfect!"
But the Vinedresser won't buy that.
Given the opportunity, He will trim the unproductive suckers and shape the branches so each one will bask in Sonlight.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

A Rebuke for Grandpa

Tonight I experienced how God can turn my stupidity into solid gold for his purpose. The three Hines kids' bickering and meanness seem to have become steadily worse over the past few days. Two hours after they were sent to bed we still heard arguing from their downstairs bedrooms. I thought if I went down to pray with them they might settle down, but it didn't work out that way. When I witnessed their gleeful disobedience I kinda snapped, and told them how disappointed I was with them because of their blaming, lying, bullying, and generally hateful behavior toward one another. Not satisfied with that scathing rebuke, I told them that even though I had come down to pray with them, that I wasn't going to waste my breath because they didn't seem to care what God, their parents or I think about their behavior.

When I told their parents what I had said, Neal told me he didn't agree with the message I communicated to them, that they could easily misconstrue what I said as having given up on them. He was afraid they would conclude that God could also give up on them and ignore their prayers.

I was shocked by that take on my little lecture to the kids, and could see how he was right. Immediately, he called them all upstairs to have a family conference about it. He handled it brilliantly, asking each of the kids if they really wanted an unhappy family life, and explaining for the n-th time that each is responsible only for his or her own behavior, and that trying to force one another to toe the line creates only bitterness and destructive conflict in the family. Though the three bore generally hangdog expressions, Evi the middle child first seemed to express sincere regret and made gestures of reconciliation toward her elder sister.

Then Neal asked if I wanted to add anything. Feeling perfectly crestfallen, I hadn't intended to chew on my foot anymore, but I tried to speak honestly with them. I told them that what I had said was from my frustration at their behavior, and not from my heart, but that I really loved them more than I could ever say. I said I was deeply sorry for saying what I had, and wanted them to always come to me for prayer, comfort and help anytime. Then I asked them to gather around and I thanked God for already forgiving me for what I had said in anger, and asked him for his love to flow through each one of us so we'd love not just our family, but everyone he sent our way. I asked God to help keep me from loosing my temper again, and each of them said it was okay and they understood how I might speak from my anger instead from my heart.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Not Any More

Tonight I needed to share a movie with Nancy, a movie about abandonment, and adoption. You see, a wonderful couple adopted Nancy as an infant, and I was privileged to meet her father once before he died. Then, too soon, she died as well.
Nancy was hurt, twice, by her birth mother; once when her parents told her that another woman had birthed her, and again, years later, when that woman refused to allow Nancy to know her.
And I can’t share that movie with Nancy. Not any more.
I know full well Nancy is now in her Savior’s loving arms, and he has answered all her questions completely, in ways I can’t begin to understand.
But I can’t share that movie, or anything else with Nancy. Not any more.
Her loving Savior has fulfilled all her needs, dreams and desires, so she no longer needs anything I can give her. Not any more.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Why the Perplexity?

Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. (1 John 4:15 ESV)
… for God did so love the world, that His Son--the only begotten--He gave, that every one who is believing in him may not perish, but may have life age-during. (John 3:16 YLT)

Quite frankly, our English translations of John 3:16 are nonsense!
Let’s try on a less orthodox translation of John 3:16; For God demonstrated his loving-kindness toward that for which he was responsible by act of creation, such that he delivered up his sole, humanly perceptible expression in order that all placing belief on him not perish, but hold life without end. (Thompson’s Literal Paraphrase) 
Think about it. What is a musk-ox, but the offspring of another musk-ox? What is an aardvark, but the offspring of another aardvark? What is Newt, but the offspring of another Gingrich? What is Jesus, but God’s only-begotten Son? As man begets man, so God begat God-the-Son. Jesus never favored us with a detailed explanation of how he, in his identity with God-the-Father, could be his own Son, even though God is eternal, as is his Son Jesus.
Confused and confounded? Join the club. God never said we would fully understand his nature, but he did say, So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ. (Romans 10:17 ESV)
If amoeba were rational, could they interpret man's motivations? If ants were rational, could they apprehend human family size? If flies were rational, could they grasp man's revulsion at seeing maggots consuming a human body? Man is rational—more or less—but our understanding God's nature is just as unlikely as finding an intellectual bug.
Mankind seems compelled to theorize, theologize and philosophize, but it's all simply speculation. We know what God's Holy Spirit shows us through his word, and that is all we have. If we find God’s word perplexing, we need to trust him more.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Today's Our Daily Bread suggests Christ-followers make great neighbors. No, that's not Joe Stowell's exact message, but one effect of living according to the Scripture passage he refers to, or for that matter, the entire New Testament. As in all areas of life, we need balance to truly demonstrate Christ's love with our lives. We're to live separated from the world's values, not isolated from the very world to which he ordered us to minister his gospel.
An example is "stepping fancy," or dancing, which some Christian sects forbid as sinful. Yet, the Contra Dance I participated in the other evening involved people from five to seventy-five years of age. It was a fun, wholesome, family activity providing music, exercise, and socialization. And opportunity to share Christ's wonderful news with our neighbors.
That's where balance steps in; while that dance might have presented witnessing opportunities, it was mainly a fun, family time. Even though we rightly feel an urgency about introducing folks to our Savior, we should, as Paul told us in Colossians 4:5, walk in wisdom toward those who do not share our faith, while redeeming the time we spend with them.
Simply stated, most outsiders are put off by our love- motivated desperation to see them saved, viewing it as a crass desire to score conversions. We can't help how our neighbors react to others' Bible-thumping, but we can certainly persevere in loving them to Christ.

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Pray Without Seeking

The casual reader might glance over the above title and think, “Just another piece about prayer,” and continue scanning titles, or grab a snack, go to the bathroom, and then switch on the TV. Hopefully, the TV isn’t in the bathroom, ‘cause that would bespeak a serious addiction—a topic for another time.
Said title can’t be a typo, ‘cause ceasing and seeking aren’t remotely similar, and even my fingers couldn’t go that far wrong. It isn’t even due to my faulty grasp of the Bible—this time.
Pray Without Seeking is what I often do when I’m attempting to obey 1 Thessalonians 5:17. The reader won't find a formula for prayer here, nor even rules for prayer, but simply the mindset one needs for prayer.

Confession Time

I plead guilty to the charge of not maintaining an excellent, or even an adequate, prayer-life. Oh, I often think about God, frequently in terms of praise and thanksgiving. In fact, I’ve never gotten over marveling at the infinite privilege of knowing and talking to God through my Lord Jesus.
My personal prayer-failure lies in consistently resisting the urge to barrage heaven with intercession for my own needs, or those of others. And in that failure, I miss the most excellent blessing of loving others, and even myself, through obeying God’s command to intercede in prayer.
It’s not that I don’t care enough, or even that my hectic schedule(right!) prevents me from doing it. While it’s no excuse for failing to intercede, my reason for that failure is my unquenchable thought process analyzes prayer to death—literally! So now you know one of my most pressing prayer requests, that I will pray with the faith of a child, in full confidence of my Lord’s love and faithfulness.
But please, do not pray without seeking, which yanks me back to my original topic.

What Is Prayer Without Seeking?

Most of us can rattle off a prayer when we need to. Some of us can even do it with style. However, what fraction of our selves do we actually put into the prayer? And, do we really know whom we hope to bestir with our praying?
Big Ears
First, God actually listens to our prayers. But how can that be, with all the millions of folks who might approach the Throne of Grace at any one moment?
If that question concerns you, it’s safe to conclude you don’t truly know God. And that’s something that should concern you. It’s also something you can remedy right now, by admitting you don’t know him, and that you are a sinner with no hope of impressing God with your most excellent personhood. God’s prophet Isaiah said it best:
We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment. We all fade like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away. (Isaiah 64:6 ESV)
If that includes all of us, what’s the big deal? He won’t send us all to hell, will he? Since God established the laws of the spirit, he will apply them without bias. And one of his first spiritual laws is,
For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:23 ESV)
We all love gifts, but as we sing at Christmas time, he knows when we’ve been naughty or nice(God, not Santa), and everyone outside of Christ is on the naughty list.
But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it-- the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. (Romans 3:21-24 ESV)
While God listens to our prayers, he also pays attention to the authority with which we pray. Jesus told us,
Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father. Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.  (John 14:12-14 ESV)
Tragically, some Christians believe the above words of Christ give them authority to ask for anything. That is, after all, what Jesus said. But that isn’t all he said, and God’s truth lies not in excerpts from Scripture, but in the whole of Scripture. So, to give a better idea of God’s teachings about prayer, take a look at some other passages that involve prayer. You will, of course, take each one at face value—initially, as that is our human way. Then read it again, praying over it, for the Author’s unique truth for you. If he doesn’t speak to you through it, you’re not listening. So do it again...
Truly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, 'Be taken up and thrown into the sea,' and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses. (Mark 11:23-25 ESV)
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:4-7 ESV)
Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving. (Colossians 4:2 ESV)
Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind. Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing. For "Whoever desires to love life and see good days, let him keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit; let him turn away from evil and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayer. But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil. (1 Peter 3:8-12 ESV)
Please be assured, you already have God’s full attention.

So then, why seek?

We fallen human beings naturally keep ourselves firmly affixed to the throne at the center of our lives. When we give our lives to God through Christ Jesus, we graciously invite him to have a seat next to us, so we can screen his input and assign it the proper priority. If we try to pray with that attitude, we assure ourselves the sensation of our entreaties bouncing off the ceiling to no effect.
Approach the Throne of Grace? Yeah, right! More like reproach the Throne of Grace. If a friend invites you over and then sits glued to the computer or TV’s entertainments, how welcome do you feel? Sure, you try to understand his preoccupation. After all, you’re an entertainment addict as well. But Jesus died for you, accepting the Jews’ ridicule and the Romans’ torture, shedding his pure blood to fully restore you to his Father.

Time now for reflection.

We must ask ourselves if what we really seek, above all else, is peace with God. If that is not the case, sitting in church and Sunday school, dropping money into the offering plate, and talking all religious-like is purely a waste of time, both for ourselves and for God’s people who are trying to minister to us.
Hitching ourselves to Christ-followers only drags them down without lifting us up. There is no second-hand salvation or heaven by osmosis; each of us must personally invest our lives in Christ’s holiness, for when we stand before him at the Judgment, only his holiness will shield us from God’s wrath.
Pray, yes! But pray first for one mind and heart with Christ Jesus. Then, if we still want all that stuff we ask for, seek again!

Friday, November 04, 2011

CFBA review of The Thirteenth Demon by Bruce Hennigan

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
The 13th Demon
Realms (October 4, 2011)
Bruce Hennigan

While personal crises prevented me from reading far into Mr. Hennigan's book, I do have a general impression: Mr. Hennigan, you need to fire your editor and find someone who knows what he or she is doing. Based on the book's blurb and other authors' impressions, however, I will finish reading The 13th Demon, hoping they weren't overly charitable.


Bruce Hennigan was born and raised in the isolated countryside of Shreveport, La., a place full of possibilities for the active mind of a young boy. The fertile imagination he cultivated while playing deep in the Louisiana woods would lead to a lifelong love of creative writing.

In 2006, Hennigan pursued the Certified Apologetic Instructor Certificate from the North American Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention. He has become a frequent speaker at regional and state events on apologetics and his strong point is in making these sometimes hard to understand issues easily approachable for the average Christian. Hennigan’s experience in apologetics inspired him to write his new novel, The 13th Demon: Altar of the Spiral Eye, a supernatural Christian thriller that combines science and faith. Now, combining his love for apologetics and his love for the art of writing, Hennigan is pursuing a career as the “Michael Crichton” of Christian fiction building powerful, fast paced stories around the truths of Christian apologetics.

Hennigan currently resides in Shreveport with his wife and daughter. He continues to write and to practice radiology at the Willis Knighton Health Care System. He has secured Jeff Jernigan of Hidden Value Group (www.hiddenvaluegroup.com) as his literary agent and has signed a five book deal with the Realms imprint of Charisma Media for “The Chronicles of Jonathan Steel”.


When Jonathan Steel wakes up on a beach in a raging thunderstorm, naked, beaten, and bleeding, he has no idea who he is or how he got there. But just as he starts to make progress in his slow journey to recovery, tragedy strikes again, taking everything in his new life that he has come to love and rely on.
Filled with rage and a thirst for revenge, he searches the countryside for the entity responsible—an entity called only the Thirteenth Demon. His quest brings him to Lakeside, Louisiana, and a small country church where evil is in control and strange writing on the walls, blood-soaked floors, and red-eyed spiders have appeared in the sanctuary.

As he faces the final confrontation with an evil presence that has pursued him all of his life, he must choose between helping the people he loves or destroying the thirteenth demon.

If you would like to read the first chapter of The 13th Demon, go HERE.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011


Popeye had an affinity for Olive Oyl, and canned spinach—If he wanted to beat Bluto!
As a kid, I was quite the Popeye fan, which fit my self-inflicted identity as a card carrying Weird-Oh. As an adult, I became a fan of another hero who identified himself with almost the same words Popeye used, and I became even more of a Weird-Oh. My later-days hero? “I am who I am” is his name.
How does that make me weird?
The short answer is, “It goes with the territory.”
You see, from nearly the beginning of time, those who tried to honor the Creator were thought to be a bit … off. Imagine the reception Noah received when he tried to tell his neighbors a storm was brewing. And that’s fairly typical of the reaction the rest of God’s prophets received when they carried his message to the people.
Unreservedly following God has never been popular; witness the reception Jesus, and later, his followers, received first at the hands of the religious Jews, then the Romans, and later the Muslims, the Romanist Inquisitors, the Nazis, the Communists, and even today’s secularists.
If that were not enough, many who align themselves with modern Christendom compromise Christ’s gospel message in the name of Diversity. According to those folks, Jesus didn’t really mean, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6) Seems God’s eternal truth isn’t inclusive enough for them.
As a certifiable Weird-Oh, my advice for church-goers is to quit playing Religion, and get serious about obeying the Christ we worship on the Lord’s Day. If we truly follow Him, real, Holy Spirit revival will come to God’s church, and we’ll finish turning the world upside down(Acts 17:6), as the first-century believers began doing.
Like Popeye and his spinach, if we don’t have God’s Holy Spirit in us, we’ll never defeat this world’s bully and his minions. But if we obey God … well … who needs spinach?