Zach, the fish whisperer

A fish photobomb

A fishy photobomb

My intent was to get a picture of the bigger fish.  Zach, my 11 year-old, will have had that fish for two years this April. Goldfish are supposed to live like what, a few months? I’ve always thought that pet stores sell goldfish as bait or as a starter fish for kids interested in getting an aquarium. So, when we bought Zach this fish for fifty cents almost two years ago, we didn’t invest in gravel, plants or other fishy stuff. We didn’t think he’d last that long.

A few months later we bought the smaller fish because Zach was worried the first fish was lonely. They’ve been bowl mates for about a year and a half.

My wife and I can’t believe they are still alive. Zach doesn’t clean the bowl as often as he should, though it looks darker in the picture that it actually is because the room was dark. However, he never forgets to feed them each night. In the early days I would ask Zach at bedtime if he’d fed the fish. But, I could never remember their names so I’d just refer to them as famous duos in history. Zach stopped correcting me about a year ago.

Continue reading

How to wash feet with your hair

Photo credit: Princes Milady / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

Photo credit: Princes Milady / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

Okay, the guys in this picture haven’t figured out how.  Have you ever washed someone’s feet?  How about spending a year’s salary on the perfume and using your hair as a cloth?

Steve Lewis is a good friend of mine who had the courage to lead the Bible Study at our house last week.  He did great research on John 12:1-8, the story of when Mary, the sister of Lazarus, washed Jesus feet. He pointed out that Mary washed Jesus’ feet and the Lord responded by saying her act would be remembered for all time. If it pleased God that much, we should do the same. So our group discussed how we might be able to have the courage to wash Jesus’ feet with our hair.

Since we can’t do what Mary did literally, we needed to get at the essence of what she did so that we could replicate that. Steve challenged us to view this scene from Mary’s perspective. With facts provided by Steve to lead the way, our group came up with these steps:

Continue reading

I’m a sorry sufferer

strength

strength (Photo credit: Candie_N (Welcome Fall))

Let’s face it, the reason most of us came to Christ was because our lives were so screwed up.  And that’s not a bad thing.  After all, lots of people came to Jesus because they had oppressive circumstances that only he could alleviate.  God has a habit of using our rough times to direct our attention his way.

However, continuing with that M.O. makes for a shallow Christianity.

Though I know better, I still hope for a premature happily ever after experience.  Maybe we love the Gospels (the first four books of the New Testament) because those salvation stories seem to end at the same place in the fairy tale where the slipper fits and Cinderella ends up marrying the prince.  I think it’s Les and Leslie Parrot who write about how that fantasy doesn’t take into account the difficult road Cinderella will have learning how to be a princess, having servants instead of being one and, of course, being married to a guy she hardly knows.  We want to be saved and slide right into our hunky-dory Christian experience.

Continue reading

Hope is overrated

English: "Mountain of Despair" -- pa...

English: “Mountain of Despair” — part of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial, Washington, DC. Image is that visitors pass through the Mountain of Despair to the “Stone of Hope.” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Hope is overrated.

It’s a crap shoot that gambles away our perseverance against the odds that one day our circumstances will improve.  It’s a blind wager that spiritually bankrupts.

It has no substance.  There’s little reason to believe that things will get better.  We just want them to, and we naively believe that’s enough.

Continue reading

Jesus wants you to stop acting your age

Flickr Chinese Dragon Year Statue

Flickr Chinese Dragon Year Statue (Photo credit: epSos.de)

Our church, Evangel Baptist, had our annual Vacation Bible School last week. It’s called A Tale of Two Kingdoms, and the lesson was about putting on the armor of God and staying alert against Satan’s attacks..  The church staff did a great job setting up the church with a medieval theme. There was a castle, a moat and even some small dragons flying around.

I led the team of mostly high school students that performed the drama, and they did an awesome job.  We had a dragon’s lair that had an interesting effect on some of the smaller kids. The dragon’s name was Flame.

Continue reading

How to be chosen at Harry Potter World, and beyond.

Emma and Vanda at Hogwarts

Emma and Vanda at Hogwarts

She’s read all seven books at least twice.  After years of intrigue with the fantasy world that includes muggles, Dumbledore and hallway pictures that interact with their observers, Emma had the opportunity to visit Universal Studios’ Harry Potter section of their theme park when our family went to Florida last week.

Among other things, Emma had anticipated visiting the shop where you choose, and of course purchase, your wand – though I’ve learned that the wand actually chooses you.  The easy way is to go through the main entrance into the store. But for those Harry Potter enthusiasts who want to wait an hour in line (with their parents), there is the opportunity to watch a wizard do his thing in a another part of the store. He shows you some of the mystery behind finding your wand and helps one lucky child in each group learn how to discover which wand is theirs. With a little Universal Studios magic, the child gets to try out the wand on things in the room with the wizard’s help.

Continue reading

The Serenity Prayer – it’s not just for addicts anymore

Photo credit: Digital Explorer / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND

Photo credit: Digital Explorer / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND

Actually, it never was. Alcoholics Anonymous adopted the prayer attributed to Reinhold Niebuhr that is associated with the famous twelve step program.

I had always heard the prayer in relation to people summoning the strength the overcome alcohol or drug addiction. Since I didn’t taste alcohol until my mid 30s, and have only had a few tastes of it since then, the thought that the sentiment housed in that prayer could apply to me had never entered my mind.

Continue reading

How can Paul say that his distress is for other people’s salvation?

Photo credit: Daniele Zedda / Foter.com / CC BY

Photo credit: Daniele Zedda / Foter.com / CC BY

The apostle Paul said some crazy things.  While studying for the teaching I offered at church yesterday I came across yet another gem that had eluded me all these years.  In 2nd Corinthians 1:6, Paul says, “If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation . . .” (NIV).

My thought had been that Paul means his suffering was a bridge to bring other people to know Jesus Christ.  But he doesn’t use the past tense here.  His current stress is to encourage the Corinthians and to save them.  And, he’s speaking to Christians.  They’ve already been saved!  And he’s certainly not implying that he is their savior.

Continue reading

In front of closed doors

Michael and Breanna Mahon

Michael and Breanna Mahon

The doors to the back of the chapel are closed.  The bridesmaids have made their way down the aisle, been greeted by their groomsmen counterparts, and have taken their place for the ceremony.  Michael, the groom, stares at the double doors with great anticipation.  He isn’t alone.  All of us who have gathered to witness this union have contorted our bodies in the pews and are bobbing our heads back and forth to secure just the right perspective through the crowd for the moment when the doors will open.

Then, one door moves ever so slightly.  A chuckle comes from the group because what we see isn’t what we have been anticipating.  The door closes behind the tiny flower girl who has emerged (she will later refer to the bride as her best friend at the reception), and she goes about her flowery task.  She finishes her trek and everyone re-fixes our gaze on the doors.

Continue reading

Take voting seriously, then take it easy.

240035_855021996912_973835085_o

(Photo credit: jsmjr)

What are you going to do if the right guy doesn’t become president?

One women told my wife that there would be, and should be, riots. Really? It’s not a bad thing to feel disappointed.  And yes, the president has a lot to do with our ability to pursue happiness. It may even be a matter of life and death for some. But, how much hope will you lose if things don’t go your way? That says a lot about what you put your hope in.

Continue reading