August 9th, 2018
Recently I was invited to join the Harvard Loser’s Club. This is an exclusive club, very exclusive. It is populated by Harvard alumni whose income is near or below the poverty line.
Truthfully, though, while my income is no doubt in the lower end of my graduating class, I am not a loser. Dull, or nerdy, maybe, I am sure my wife Karen would say. But not a loser. I would love to attend the “Dull Men’s Club” that meets regularly in Pembrake, MA, south of Boston (Wall Street Journal, July 20, 2012, p. 1). They discuss such interesting subjects: Attendees have studied park benches around the world; leaf raking techniques. In one meeting they debated for 2.5 hours the best way to put toilet paper on the roll, over or under. Now that is an arresting subject! Sure interests me!
The problem is that losers and dullards have a tendency to define themselves according to what they are not, by what they don’t have rather than what they have. I call this a grievance mentality.
In 2018, we must be careful not to define ourselves according to what we are not, by what we do not have, by what we dislike rather than what we like. Let me explain.
Many social movements begin with a righteous cause but over time develop a grievance mentality against their opponents. For instance, the Civil Rights movement began in sincerity and earnestness that was righteous and good. It checked the unbridled racism that was polluting our nation. But eventually, African-American Professor Shelby Steele in White Guilt argues, progress was slowed and then stopped by two things: African-American fears of whites and white guilt feelings that brought change in the socio-political realm but changed no hearts.
One reviewer explained:
The author [Shelby Steele] frames his book around a drive up the California coast during which he pondered the Bill Clinton–Monica Lewinsky affair. Why is it, he asks himself, that President Eisenhower would have been drummed out of office for a sex scandal like Clinton’s, while Clinton would certainly have been impeached if he had used the racial slur Eisenhower allegedly employed on the golf course? The answer, Steele asserts, is a fundamental change in American culture. The success of the civil-rights movement in the 1960s showed that America’s power structure lacked moral authority. For white Americans, the only way to regain that authority has been to “disassociate” from racism, which Steele says is now more frowned upon than adultery. The result has whites straining to appear benevolent toward blacks, while African-American leaders take advantage of “white guilt” to gain handouts such as affirmative action. Steele, who made the same points in his National Book Critics Circle award-winner The Content of Our Character (1990), contends that white liberals see blacks for their skin color instead of their individuality. (“Most of today’s conservatives,” he contends, “sound like Martin Luther King in 1963.”) Black leaders, on the other hand, fail to call upon African-Americans to exercise personal responsibility. Steele has some noteworthy insights into the ways blacks and whites relate, but his arguments suffer from his tendency to establish and then gleefully demolish straw men and from his sweeping generalizations based on personal experiences. Steele claims, for example, that the racial discrimination he encountered as a child did little to harm his self-image and then applies his experience to all blacks. This is the same form of argument he finds offensive in others.
Will we define ourselves as a rejection of other educational movements or will we embrace the iconoclastic future God has called us to grasp? We must be careful to avoid all roots of bitterness as we examine our future. There are great dangers in forming and maintaining a cultural movement based on dislikes and anger rather than approbation and affirmation of new possibilities. We are children of the living God! We are not afraid of any world view, any sociological theory, any scientific theory. We choose to define ourselves by what we are—not by what we are not.
For Such a Time family, we are redeemed by the blood of the Lamb! We are more than conquerors in Christ.  Like Paul I define myself as being “in Christ.” I am not a loser and neither are you! I will conduct myself as the Child of the Living God that I am. I define myself by what I am; not by what I am not.


June 5th, 2018
Peter Edward Rose Sr. (born April 14, 1941), also known by his nickname “Charlie Hustle”, is an American former professional baseball player and manager. Rose played in Major League Baseball (MLB) from 1963 to 1986, and managed from 1984 to 1989. Rose was a switch hitter and is the all-time MLB leader in hits (4,256), games played (3,562), at-bats (14,053), singles (3,215), and outs (10,328). He won three World Series rings, three batting titles, one Most Valuable Player Award, two Gold Gloves, and the Rookie of the Year Award, and also made 17 All-Star appearances at an unequaled five positions (second baseman, left fielder, right fielder, third baseman, and first baseman). Rose won both of his Gold Gloves when he was an outfielder, in 1969 and 1970. Had he not been banned from baseball, Pete Rose’s name could have been on the writers’ ballot beginning in 1992 and ending in 2006. He never made it. However, even though Rose was ineligible for Baseball Hall of Fame, he was inducted into the Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame in 2016. Cincinnati newspapers wrote, that Pete Rose—who illegally gambled on professional sports—should be eligible because “in light of the steroid scandal his crime does not seem so bad now.” Interesting argument–isn’t it? Sin that was bad in the past is not so bad today. Fasten your seat belts, saints. We are in for a Post-Modernism ride!
Post-Modernism is a term used to describe Western culture that emerged since 1990. Post-Modernism, according to social analyst Walter Truett Anderson, is an anti-science movement that emerged at the end of the Cold War. To Post-Modernism, reality is always subjective. It invites people to define their own reality. As the Beatles sang:
You don’t need me to show the way, love
Why do I always have to say “love”
C’mon (C’mon), c’mon (C’mon), c’mon (C’mon), c’mon (C’mon)
Please please me, whoa yeah, like I please you
Anderson, in his book Reality Isn’t What It Used To Be (San Francisco HarperCollins, 1990. 288p) describes six stories competing in Postmodern era: 1) Western myth of progress; 2) Marxism and Revolution; 3) Christian Fundamentalism; 4) Islamic Fundamentalism; 5) Green; 6) New Age. I would add one more: Christian home school evangelicalism. Post-Modernism diverges, like romanticism does, from a notion that reality occurs from empiricism (Aristotle) or from knowledge (Plato).
To this hopeless generation history is not sacred; it is merely utilitarian.   It is not didactic; it helps make them feel better.  The modern psychologist B.F. Skinner, for instance, disdains history and gives m & m’s to monkeys.  We have no actions–only fate driving us.  We are rudderless.  The fact is we Christians know, however, that God is in absolute control of history.  We need to teach our children to be tirelessly hopeful.  We need to make sure that we are not mawkish!  We can easily do so by speaking the Truth found in the Word of God in places of deception.
One of the greatest problems in Post-Modernism is confusion about individual responsibility.  It was Freud who told us that feelings of guilt were a sign not of vice, but of virtue.  That our problems stemmed from our mothers, not from our sin.
Finally, last week I conducted a funeral for a great lady, Gladys, who is the quintessential anti-Enlightenment, anti-Post-Modern saint. When she was 26 her husband was injured at work. For the rest of his life she cared for her beloved. He was basically a vegetable. She fed him, she bathed him. For 25 more years. She did everything for him. No complaints. No identity crisis. She just did it. When I asked her why she did not put him in a nursing home I was startled by her answer. “Never considered it,” she smiled, “He is my husband and I made a vow that I shall always keep.”
We stand squarely in the way of Post-Modernism. We reject the notion that reality is subjectively defined by each individual. No, Jesus Christ is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Period. We do what we do for His pleasure and we share that pleasure. That is why we do what we do.

December 8th, 2017

In the backyard of my childhood home in the Arkansas Delta is a forty foot pine tree. A few days before Christmas 1958, next to an in-ground concrete pond of mongrel fish bred from dime store gold fish and leftover fishing minnows, my Dad, who was not yet 30, planted three pine trees.

One died the following winter, during our neighborhood football game—heartlessly crushed under an eight-year-old Dallas Cowboys’ sneaker. Our yard man massacred another the next summer. But one still stands.

Many times since 1958 I visited that pine tree. Its deciduous beauty might inspire you, but it reminds me of my 49-year-old father in the last moments of his life gasping for breath, in mortal agony and pain.  Terrible things happened to that man before he died.  Things he did not deserve. While that hearty pine tree remains unscathed by beetle bug or rusty fungi.

Sticky, brown, ageless, unphased even by the coldest Arkansas winter, the pine tree still quietly stands, smirking and haughty. It was birthed 25 years after my dad was born and has lived 35 years after he died. It conflicts my soul because at a much too young an age I realized that there is mortal pain that obviates all notions of goodness.

Flaunting its immortality, the venerable tree postures itself in silent mockery of the rest of us who are struggling to deal with the many vicissitudes of life. I wish that pine was dead too. As it overshadows my old backyard, robbing all other life of light and sustenance, so also it overshadows me.

I see my simple, caring, innocent father, whose cosmology extended no farther than suppertime, kneeling and gently placing that ungrateful pine tree into the dark, rich Delta loam.  Lovingly pouring water among its selfish, grasping roots, he squats in silent hopeful expectation. He thought he would see that tree tower above our farmhouse. Surely he did.

That tree gives me painful thoughts of what was and will never be again. What might have been but was not. What I want but cannot have. He never met three of my children.  He will never know any of his great-grandchildren. I still ask him questions, “How do I do this?” Or “How did you feel when you did that?” I needed him. I really did. But he was not there.

He is not here when I need him now.  Even today I reach for the phone to tell him something, to ask him something. Dad did not die a beautiful death. There was no Hallmark moment in that story. Dangling on a myriad of IV tubes, gasping for breath, he suffocated on his own fluids. As God or cancer or whatever it is that cruelly, slowly, torturously stole life from Dad, I similarly would like to kill that tree—slowly painfully stripping it of life until every evil, uncaring, nasty pine cone and needle joins my poor dad in his grave.

“But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, I bring you good News of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you…” (Luke 2:10)

The Christ child has come to give us life and hope! A Savior has been born to you…to those of us who wake up Christmas morning and nearly pick up a telephone to phone a deceased loved one to tell him/her about his/her grandchild’s first Christmas morning, this is good news.

To those of us who roll over Christmas morning and reach for an absent spouse, the angels bring good news indeed. To those of us who despair on Christmas Eve as we peer into the bright lights of our Christmas tree and only feel the absence of a loved one, the coming of the Christ child is real, much needed hope.

Let the ancient pine trees in our lives grow, and grow, and grow! We are not afraid. Someday I hope to show that old pine tree to my grandchildren, dad’s great-great grandchildren. To tell them about Christmas’s that once were and shall be again. About their great grandfather and great grandmother and all the faithful saints who loved Jesus Christ and are waiting for them in Heaven. Let the pine trees cover the sky! Let their arms reach beyond the world until they fill our souls, for, you see, we fear not. Our Savior has come.

Merry Christmas!


November 23rd, 2017
When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion,
we were like those who dreamed.
Our mouths were filled with laughter,
our tongues with songs of joy.
Then it was said among the nations,
“The Lord has done great things for them.”
The Lord has done great things for us,
and we are filled with joy.
Restore our fortunes, Lord,
like streams in the Negev.

It is a heart-wrenching psalm–the speaker is obviously a farmer who is struggling to make ends meet. Every year, the harvest is iffy and year after year he barely makes it.  One thing he must do, though, is save the seed barley or wheat.  He can eat some of his crop, but he dare not eat all of it–or he will not have anything to plant next year. Perhaps his children are hungry, some even may die. But he holds on to the seed, to the dream. He must. Or the dream dies.

So the farmer suffers, watches his family suffer, but he holds on to the seed. Waiting. Watching. Hoping. Believing.

And then, finally, it is spring! Water fills the Negev and Palestinian hills with fresh, new, vigorous growth.  The wait is over!

Those who sow with tears
will reap with songs of joy.
Those who go out weeping,
carrying seed to sow,
will return with songs of joy,
carrying sheaves with them.

Then with tears of joy, of remembrance, and of hope, the farmer plants again! He suffers in the winter because he believes in the harvest. Those who sow with tears . . .

This Thanksgiving season we are still waiting. Waiting for that long-delayed but inevitable harvest that surely will come soon. We must just keep working hard, holding the seed in our hand until that time of bountiful blessing comes, until our Lord comes!


November 18th, 2017

Admission to competitive universities has been the subject of numerous movies, including Risky Business, Paper Chase, Love Story, and, a movie my wife Karen and I saw this weekend, Admissions. While I do not recommend any of the aforementioned movies (especially Risky Business), they often highlight some of the difficulties connected with college admission.

In the movie — starring Tina Fey and Paul Rudd — Princeton University’s admissions office seems woefully behind the times when it comes to technology, with applicant records kept in folders (orange of course). Admission or rejection is accompanied by a dramatic checking of a box (or in one case where an admissions officer is angry at an applicant’s false claim, stamping the rejection twice on the folder). Princeton’s admissions dean (played by Wallace Shawn) is traumatized by a drop from No. 1 to No. 2 in the U.S. News & World Report rankings (when the only rankings indignity real-life Princeton suffers is being tied for the top spot with Harvard University).

Of course very few of us are going to go to Harvard or Princeton—although it is not as hard as you might think—both universities favor homeschool students and offer generous financial aid packages—but I want to highlight a few things I observed in the movie that are true.

  1. While I would never denigrate the ACT, it is not as prestigious a college admission exam as the SAT. Prestigious colleges prefer the SAT and ordinary/good colleges give larger financial aid packages to students who take the SAT and score high. My advice: Take both.
  2. Consider accumulating AP credits instead of CLEP credits. The former are far more prestigious. I still have openings in my AP classes. Visit and click on “Distance Learning.”
  3. If you opt to ignore the SAT and ACT—which is the only legitimate college admission test for the best colleges– and do something like College Plus, you jeopardize your financial possibilities and admission to prestigious graduate schools. Pray about it.
  4. College admission officers look at the essay portion of the ACT & SAT in lieu or in addition to the college admission essay. You should really, then, give a lot of attention to both.
  5. Choose the 5 colleges you would attend and apply. I recommend having 2 “long shot” choices, 2 “possible,” and two “in the bag” choices. Visit all 5 if you can. Arrange for interviews.
  6. Do not think about financial aid until you are accepted. Apply to a college—any college you feel God is calling you to—and then apply for financial aid if you are accepted. NEVER pay an independent agency to find financial aid or scholarships for you. The admitting college will help you gratis.
  7. Know the difference between early action & early decision. Early decision plans are binding — a student who is accepted as an ED applicant must attend the college. Early action plans are nonbinding — students receive an early response to their application but do not have to commit to the college until the normal reply date of May 1. Therefore, apply to one early decision school and many other (5?) early action schools. After all, early action/early decision applicants have a much better chance to be accepted and to receive scholarships than regular admission students.

If you find the above insights helpful, feel free to visit Consider inviting me to conduct an SAT/ACT/College Admission Seminar for your COOP, school, or group. SAT/ACT Seminar. I will conduct an ACT/SAT seminar for you at a time that meets your schedule. Since I am a grader for the SAT many new insights are fresh in my mind. I will administrate a real SAT /ACT, evaluate the SAT/ACT score, and offer specific test-taking strategies. Parents attend the seminar free! Contact me directly if you are interested, or 814 479 7710.

I am also presenting a college admission workshop on I would love to have you join me!

November 14th, 2017

By the time that you read this blog, I will have evaluated over 1500 SAT essays. I personally evaluated 2-3% of all the October essays. I am a fast and, I wish, a more accurate grader. I am paid per hour according to accuracy and productivity. So you should listen to me! My advice is not based on online wisdom or hypothetical anecdotes – I do the real thing!

I work for Pearsons/CollegeBoard and evaluate SAT essays for them. English teachers with attitude all over America are grabbing a cup of tea and trying their best to evaluate what is, by all estimations, a very subjective assignment.

The SAT and ACT, college admission tests, are approximately three hours long—three hours and fifty minutes if you write the optional essay. The essay portion is given at the beginning of the test. The score is factored into the writing section.

The SAT and the ACT essay are critical components of the college admission portfolio and students ignore them at their own risk.

For one thing, it is no small comfort to admission officers to see that students can actually write and, at the same time, SAT/ACT essays allow students to showcase their writing skills.

At the same time, many colleges purchase SAT/ACT essays as an addendum to the anxiety ridden college application essay. In other words, not trusting students to submit an honest, clean appraisal of their writing abilities in 650 words, colleges revert to using the spontaneous SAT/ACT essay. After all, colleges can be certain that no one assisted students in these creations!
Therefore, the SAT/ACT essay is critical. Students, you simply must take it.

Each SAT Essay consists of one passage between 650 and 750 words that you will read and then respond to. You will have 50 minutes to complete the SAT Essay.

The purpose of the new SAT Essay is to assess your ability to analyze an author’s argument. It is not merely a paraphrase of his/her argument. To write a strong essay, you will need to focus on how the author uses evidence, reasoning, and other rhetorical techniques to build an argument and make it convincing. Three components are evaluated: Reading, Analysis, and Writing. A perfect score is 4 plus 4 plus 4, or 12 times 2 (since there are two different graders), or 24 total.

The essay task will be the same in every test. What will change is the reading selection you’ll be asked to analyze. If you are familiar with the Essay prompt ahead of time – and understand exactly what your task is – you will save time on Test Day and write a stronger essay.

If you are interested in talking more about the SAT/ACT essay join me for an online webinar/discussion @ 1PM EST, Tuesday, November 28, 2017, e-mail for an invitation. During this webinar I will give you more specific writing strategies and I will be available to answer any of your other questions.

Know the Time

October 23rd, 2017

Come,” they say, “let us destroy them as a nation, that the name of Israel be remembered no more” (Ps 83:4). When Karen and I (mostly Karen) began homeschooling in the 1980s, we did not much think about grand things. We mostly simply wanted to arrive on time to mid-week church just one time. That was particularly embarrassing since I was the pastor and leader of the Bible study. Just once. Never happened.

Yet, in the midst of controlled chaos (that you all know so well), there was a sonorous hope that empowered us. We were doing the right thing, we knew it, teaching our children. We were making a difference. Those were the days!

In retrospect, we were living the end of an age. Camelot was disappearing. The end of the Christian era. The post-Christian era was about to begin.

Know the time!

When our children were younger we raised 4-H Suffolk sheep. Sturdy fences surrounded 10 acres of alfalfa pasture and bubbling spring water. With maximum temperatures of 80 degrees in the summer, Suffolk Sheep frolicked and procreated with security and joy. However, in the Laurel Highlands of Pennsylvania, like so many other places, nefarious coyotes, even inquisitive black bears, and packs of wild dogs wandered down from distant woodlands and meadows. An old shepherd warned us, “The fences are not to keep the sheep in but to keep the critters out.” He was right. Angry, ravenous predators lurked outside our green pastures. Electric fence reinforced with barbed wire keep predators out and helpless sheep in.

In case you haven’t noticed, the fences are down. The enemy is rallying against the People of God.

I do not fear though. And either should you! He is more than able to defeat our enemies! “Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready” (Rev 19:7). “I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband” (Rev 21:2).

Know the time!

The Kingdom of God will always be a place of conflict in the world. In the long run, it is really no contest at all.

Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
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 2:9-11)

Your children, all of us, will not merely survive, exist. We shall take back what is rightfully His. We shall be more than conquerors in Christ Jesus!

Your students will infiltrate the university, the courthouse, the government building, the world. Cleverly disguised as lawyers, physicians, university professors, engineers these dynamic young Christians—your children—will turn the tide of history. I know it.

In summary, there has been a season of peace for followers of Christ in the western, European and Asian world. But know that a season of persecution is to come. The fences are down. “However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name” (1 Peter 4:16-17).

What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written:

“For your sake we face death all day long;
we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:31-37)

Know the time!

The Giver

September 30th, 2017

The Giver is a 1993 American young adult dystopian novel by Lois Lowry. The society has eliminated pain and strife by converting to “Sameness”, a plan that has also eradicated imagination. The Community lacks any color, memory, climate, or terrain, all in an effort to preserve structure, order, and a true sense of equality beyond personal individuality.

As I prepare for my World Communion sermon tomorrow (October 1) it feels like I serve in a colorless, memoryless world, that has forgotten who it is, and, therefore what it must do. I find myself serving communion to a world, and, to a lesser extent, a congregation, that is modest in its expectations, limited in its energy, tentative in its hope. In other words, we lack any color, memory, climate, or terrain, all in an effort to preserve structure, order, and a true sense of equality beyond personal individuality.

Therefore, as I prepare my pastoral sermon, I realize that, tomorrow at least, I will need to be a prophet, not a pastor:

“The prophet engages in futuring fantasy. The prophet does not ask if the vision can be implemented, for questions of implementation are of no consequence until the vision can be imagined. The imagination must come before the implementation. Our culture is competent to implement almost anything and to imagine almost nothing. The same consciousness that makes it possible to implement anything and everything is the one that shrinks imagination because imagination is a danger. Thus every totalitarian regime is frightened of the artist. It is the vocation of the prophet to keep alive the ministry of imagination, to keep on conjuring and proposing futures alternative to the single one the king wants to urge as the only thinkable one.” Walter Brueggemann, The Prophetic Imagination

Our world has lost hope because they cannot imagine a different world from the dystopian world in which they imagine they live. They live in a world of sameness where hope is an aberration because they cannot imagine a world any different from their world. It would be absurd to do so. It would be fanciful to do so. “Hope, on one hand, is an absurdity too embarrassing to speak about, for it flies in the face of all those claims we have been told are facts. Hope is the refusal to accept the reading of reality which is the majority opinion; and one does that only at great political and existential risk. On the other hand, hope is subversive, for it limits the grandiose pretensions of the present, daring to announce that the present to which we have all made commitments is now called into question. . .”

So what I intend to do tomorrow is to put on my prophetic hat and offer an alternative reality. I will make the bold claim that Christ is the Giver. This bold assertion will be difficult for my congregation to accept. We are upper middle-class Presbyterians; we are the givers. But if this thing is going to work tomorrow, this communion-thing, it really has to be the Lord’s Supper and He alone is the Giver. We have to accept His grace. We have to stand again at the foot of the cross and accept the gift we could not earn, did not deserve, but is given to us anyway. “The cross is the assurance that effective prophetic criticism is done not by an outsider but always by one who must embrace the grief, enter into the death, and know the pain of the criticized one.”

Tomorrow, then, we gather to blow the hopelessness of the world apart! We will make claims that are powered by the imagination.   We dare to hope that we can change, indeed, that our whole world can change. We will begin with the astounding truth that our God loves us, our Savior died for us, our Holy Spirit empowers us. We will color our world with hope. We will leave that place tomorrow with renewed expectation. Bold assertions. Bold hope. A new tomorrow! Let us begin . . . “On the night that our Lord was betrayed . . . He took bread.”


September 29th, 2017

At a church meeting/breakfast this morning I was faced with an ontological dilemma: what do I order for breakfast?

I am being trite, even disrespectful you think.  Well, listen . . .

I am on a diet. Really. The kind of diet that disallows all carbohydrates. Potatoes, toast (even, healthy whole grain toast), and everything sweet, are history!

Which is why I faced an ontological (relating to the basic nature of things, beginnings) dilemma this morning.

The first crisis: I could do what I liked.  My surrogate conscience (my wife Karen) was absent.  I knew full well that my church comrades would willingly, with no judgment attached, join me as co-conspirators. It is a confession of faith among Presbyterian men, indeed, the eleventh commandment, “thy shall not tell thy brother’s wife what thee and thy comrade ate at the men’s breakfast.” Oh we don’t lie but half-truths have evolved into a perfidious science. When asked what we ate we respond, “Oh it was health” or “It was not as bad as usual.” And then we quickly change the subject, “Honey, your hair looks beautiful today” or something like it.  I hope my readers will appreciate my raw honesty, and will not, ontologically, condemn me. So I could have sinned today and eaten what I liked . . . but I didn’t. I will tell you why I didn’t in a minute.

The second crisis: my brother-in-Christ Jeff, who is not on a diet, ordered a double hash brown order “to make up, Pastor, for what you are not eating.”  Of course, Jeff was doing no such thing—eating my portion to make up for what I was not eating—he was being mean. Spiteful. Disrespectful. Ontologically, he forgot my high and lofty role in his church! For a few moments I wished to be an Episcopalian or Roman Catholic priest, full of hierarchical power, but, alas, I was captured by a dilemma: I thoroughly embrace the notion of the “priesthood of all believers” so Jeff, fortuitously, escaped clergy wrath and I smiled and with great frustration sprinkled more hot sauce on my unappetizing American cheese omelet.

The last crisis: in the midst of a plethora of choices—indeed, my life is normally full of choices—500 plus television choices, 18 different menu items—Belgian waffles, blueberry pancakes, Texas toast sandwich—sigh, I now had one choice: Eggs and bacon or sausage. And I was not enjoying the feeling.

So I ate my breakfast, without sin and guile. I did so with a smile and joy in my heart (sort of). I will take my ½ pound of weight loss this week and smile. I do it to please my wife, to improve my health, etc. But I also do it for love.

And here is the point of this blog—eating this breakfast is sort of like my walk of faith. I do it because I love God and I want to please Him and I want to . . . well that is about it: I love Him.  I do not wish to trivialize the grace of God by suggesting it is remotely related to my diet—but human motivation, in the face of so many choices, in the face of so much temptation, when push comes to shove, comes down to love. Not fear. Not manipulation. But love. God so loved the world that He sent His only begotten Son—That is pretty well the reason I obey God’s commandments. He will love me anyway—I do not embrace a performance-based religion—my Savior died on the cross for my sins because He loved me and willingly chose to do it.

So think of these ontological things . . . and pass the hot sauce. . .

“Now” to me has become a wonderful thing.

September 20th, 2017
I greeted the sun this morning on the crest of the hill behind my 1880ish Mennonite built farm. The foundation allegedly was part of an earlier structure, probably built in the middle 1700s.
I walked on this hill today to greet the sun and also to wrap myself in history. It is on this hill where I remind myself that I am part of something much bigger than my farm, much bigger than my lifetime. From this hill Algonquians braves, perspicuous German settlers, and now this old campaigner greet the dawn. I know my God liveth when I stand on this hill. Behind me is an old wagon trail. An earlier Mennonite tenant threw perfectly sculptured sandstone rocks that I have built stone walls to support perennial flowers and thriving holly bushes. At this point, at this  confluence seven springs join to provide my family with the sweetest, cleanest mountain water that a person could hope to experience. I hear the bubbling overflow from my spring house. Whitetail deer, bear, rabbits, and other critters, are even now gathering to enjoy its bounteousness. No wonder Native Americans fought for this land!
I peer over the horizon.  From this place, or nearby, hay chewing squint eyed dairy farmers peered at the smoke from the Flight 93 site only eight miles away. “Yep,” my neighbor observed, “Them A-Rabs are attacking us.”  Even then I wondered what a terrorist had against our old abandoned strip mining fields.
There was 16 years ago and this is now. “Now” to me has become a wonderful thing.  I am as young (at heart) and full of fight as I was then, when America struck the first blow for freedom, on that beautiful autumn morning in early September. 

No, I am as young as any man alive, at any time. As I am reminded as I serve the Lord’s Supper, I (we) join a cloud of witnesses who celebrate and proclaim the goodness and mercy of our God! I remember again, that I am alive, will always be alive. Not in some smoky pantheistic karma, but in the presence of our Almighty God. In the pens, in the memory of my students, I, and all those who serve one another in Christ, who call Him Savior, shall live. This is not a therapeutic moment; it is a historical moment. An affirmation of the Creator who knows all, the only path to the destination where I am heading someday. 
September 11 has always been meaningful for me.  On September 11, 1975 I fell asleep at the wheel of my Fiat 128, hit a bridge, and spent the next year recovering in hospitals (2.5 months) and physical therapy (9 months). In feverish pain I suffered through Luis Tiant’s near victory in the 1975 series. Knowing I was soon to live in Cambridge, MA, I felt obligated to support the home time. I was discouraged, to be sure. Seemed like God had abandoned me! Here I was going to seminary to serve Him, and pow, look were I landed! And then I remember that my delayed Harvard debut meant that I met my beloved wife, Karen, my life partner of 40 years (so far) and mother of my (our) four children. She is sleeping now, even as I write this blog.  I reach for her in prayer as I peer down into our bedroom window. Even for the hour or so I will be away from her, until she joins me for breakfast (and cooks it too, I might add!), I will miss her.
Yes, I digress  but let me end it by saying, continuing to say, that I am as young and hopeful and full of energy as I have ever me.  No, I have more energy, the way old Caleb looked at the high country and asked only to be granted the privilege to defeat God’s enemies (Joshua 14). I stand again, this morning, look! I see the sun rising . . . its rays are accentuated, not dissipated, by golden and red sugar maples autumn leaves. Brothers and sisters, the promise is as real and alive as ever. “The land on which your feet have walked will be your inheritance and that of your children forever, because you have followed the Lord my God wholeheartedly!” (vs. 9).
Let’s roll! Let us take back what is rightfully ours, what belongs to our God. The thistle and the vine, the hill and the flat lands, this is our land.  It is our time. Let us bow down together and thank almighty God that we have been so blessed to be alive, to see the coming of His glory! The vindication of His Word!