Leap Year“Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? Tell me, if you understand. Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know! Who stretched a measuring line across it? Job 38:4-5


My Grandmother Birdie Mae Rollins was born on February 29, 1872. Because she only had a birthday every four years, the family joked that Birdie got married at age three, and had her eight children when she was four, four and a half, five, five and a half, six, six and half, seven and seven and a half.


A year is defined as the time it takes for the Earth to orbit around the sun once. It takes the Earth about 365  ¼  days to make one entire orbit around the sun (a day is one rotation around the Earth’s axis). By adding one extra day about every four years, the Earth is in the same point of its orbit at the same time of the calendar year each year. I often wonder what God thinks of these human contrivances. It must amuse God that we as humans have to be so “organized” in His world, which is already perfectly organized and has been since He declared it all “good.”


In the book named for him, Job found his friends had lots of ideas about why he was suffering, but in the end the truth revealed itself. God had “allowed” Satan to mess with Job because God knew Job would never renounce Him.  Most of us would hope we’d never be put to the test the way Job was, but can any of us truly say we understand God’s intentions? The Lord told the prophet Isaiah, “My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways.” So while we as humans can easily justify our attempts to organize this world, let’s all remember just Who put it all into orbit in the first place.


Creator God, we marvel at Your works, which are too magnificent for us to understand. Grant us a peace in which we can simply worship You for all You have created, without having to alter it in some way to suit our human purposes. Amen


Plastic Bottles FloatingThe earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it. Psalm 24:1


Over a decade ago, Subaru became the first car manufacturer to achieve zero landfill. “It wasn’t easy,” says an advertisement I saw recently. “Doing the right thing rarely is.” Because of what Subaru has learned in eliminating waste in their plants and businesses, the company now shares their expertise with the National Park Service and the National Parks Conservation Association, as they “work together toward the goal of making our irreplaceable national treasures zero landfill as well.” The ad copy ends with these words: “Loving the earth means understanding you can’t throw anything away, because there is no ‘away.’”


What about the “things” beyond the normal “recyclables” God has offered for my use here in this life?  Every single thing on this earth and in this life is a gift from God. Do I spend my time wisely? Not in the frenzied manner of a person driven to cram as much work/play/accumulation of “stuff” as possible into each day. But as a person mindful of what God would have me do with my time. Instead of being “driven,” do I allow myself to be “led” by the Holy Spirit into my next best effort which will most benefit God’s kingdom? Or do I squander much of my time on activities which don’t contribute one iota to God wants me to do?


And what about my “talents?” Do I share my gifts freely with others, in such a way as to make a difference in others’ lives? What good is my skill in communication if I do not give away that skill in the pursuit of helping others interconnect in meaningful ways? Even simple skills like making a delicious meat can be translated into service for others.


The choice is up to me, every single moment of every single day: will I use my time, energy and talent only for myself and perhaps those closest to me? Will I live a self-serving life and just “throw away” the precious gifts God has bestowed on me?  I choose not to be that wasteful person for as long as I live on this earth. To those who do squander the resources God has given them, I say, “NO A-WAY!”


Father of All Good Gifts, help us to see how precious Your resources are, and help us to conserve them for as long as You loan them to us. Amen


Moses Ten CommandmentsThe Lord said to Moses, “Say to the Israelites: ‘Do not eat any of the fat of cattle, sheep or goats.’” Leviticus 7:22-23


This year, I am reading through the entire Bible. I have a little guide that tells me to read certain text in the Old and the New Testament, and hopefully, by year’s end, I will have reached the end of Malachi and Revelation. I greatly prefer reading the New Testament over the Old, especially the books of Exodus and Leviticus. I cannot understand how Moses and Aaron could keep all of God’s “rules” straight, much less expect the Israelites to follow them perfectly as well. Although I might do well not to eat the fat of animals, I would be in big trouble if I had to adhere to all these precepts today.


For example, Exodus 23:19 warns, “Do not boil a young goat in its mother’s milk.” Well, darn, I just saw that recipe on the Food Network, and now I can’t make it tonight! Or what about the unfortunate guy who has made the poor choice to contact leprosy? Leviticus 14 outlines all the rituals that must be carried out by and for the diseased person, including a “guilt offering.” I’ll bet my insurance would cancel me in a heartbeat if they knew it was a sin to get sick. In fact, Exodus 34:7 tells us that our kids and grandkids aren’t going to get very far in life either because our sins will “visit” them and wreck their lives too.


I realize things were different during Old Testament times, and although I’m poking a little fun at these exhaustive rituals, I know God had a plan. I am so grateful to Him that His plan eventually led to Jesus coming to live on earth as both man and God. He was willing to die for my sins and prove His divinity by rising from the tomb on Easter morning.


During this Lenten season, many “give something up” as a way of atoning for their shortcomings. This year, I’m giving up myself, as wholly as I am able, every day, to my Lord Who knows all about me and what is best for me. And I know he’s not going to ask me not to boil a young goat in its mother’s milk.


Lord of the Ages, thank You for Your abiding mercies and loving kindness poured out every day. Amen


Alive and KickinSuddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everyone’s chains came loose. Acts 16:25


Do you believe in second chances? Ken Wydro and Vi Higginsen of the Mama Foundation for the Arts certainly do. They were behind the development of Alive! The Musical, a production featuring men and women, ages 55 to 74 years old, each of whom have a song to sing and a story to tell the world. As Harlem World Magazine reported in an article in May, 2014, this dynamic musical will change everything you ever thought about people coming back from hard times. Many of the stories are hard to hear, especially when the hearer realizes how much strength it took for each of them to tell that story to a live audience. And the songs? They aren’t randomly chosen. Each performer carefully selects a tune that expresses how he or she feels about that second chance that came along, against all odds, by the grace of God.


Matthew Burke was abandoned at two and a half weeks old, left apparently by his birth mother in a hallway. Matthew became a number. “That’s my life,” he says, “a number.” Throughout his life and some unwise decisions, Matthew conjured up a vision of this mother who walked away from her infant. He even gave his unknown mother a name. When the time came to sing “his” song, he chose “Georgia On My Mind,” which he sings for the woman who brought him into this world. As he performs this song, he acknowledges that life doesn’t always go the way we planned, but we can still realize our dreams if we don’t give up.


As Harlem World Magazine puts it, “Alive! The Musical has a message for people of all ages. Even if you didn’t follow the path that the world says you should have it is never too late.” If your life has served up difficult times and unfortunate happenings, rejoice that you are still alive. Ask God to show the way to your second (or third or fourth) chance.


O God, You never give up on us. When we feel like we are at the end of the line, pen our eyes to see what You would have us do next. Amen


XfilesThen you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free. John 8:32


“I want to believe,” says Fox Mulder, played by David Duchovney in the 2016 revival of “The X Files” television series. The sci-fi thriller aired from 1992 to 2002, with FBI Agent Mulder and his sidekick, Dr. Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) assigned to investigate crimes linked to paranormal activity. Mulder’s interest was personal: he believed his own sister was abducted by aliens when the they were children. The original series ended with Mulder and Scully falling in love and having a child who was given up for adoption to “protect” him from “the bad guys.” Fox Mulder distrusted everyone, including the government, and the revival of the series presents even more reasons for him to be suspicious. Spine tingling entertainment to some, paranormal hype to others, resumption of “The X Files” series promises to be frightening and delightful.


I not only want to believe, I do believe, in the real truth. Mulder and Scully say, “The truth is out there.” The Bible says, “The truth is in here.” Why do I believe? Because throughout my life, even before I really did believe, I look back and see how God was there, in small ways and big. Like when I was growing up with an alcoholic mother and a codependent father. God helped me survive. God brought me home after I’d been riding my horse in situations I didn’t even realize were dangerous, in forests before there was “blaze orange” hunting gear, and in thunderstorms that made my hair stand on end. Even though I did my share of “youthful experimenting,” God kept me safe from all the world had to offer. And God was there when I was sexually assaulted at gunpoint at age twenty-five, and the man intended to chain me to a tree. “In the name of God, don’t do this!” I cried. I watched as the man’s face softened and he stepped back. I saw the chain swinging towards my head and I stumbled as I fell to the ground. “Don’t talk about God!” the man hissed. And then he ran away.


Yes, God was there after the assault, when I didn’t know who I was or what was happening to me, when I was so terrified of living one more day, I wanted to die right then. God was there through some pretty rough years, and He waited for me to lay my life down at His feet. And then I began to heal.


I guess you could say I’m an “extraterrestrial” because I’m just passing through this world. I’m a citizen of heaven, a believer in Jesus Christ Who died on a cross so my sins could be forgiven. And I know where the truth is. It’s in God’s living, everlasting, and divinely inspired Word.


Savior God, I know You are real because You walk beside me every day. There is nothing that can come my way that You and I together cannot handle. Amen