Wednesday, October 19, 2016


In this valiant attempt to bring clarity to the November presidential election, I struggle with a lot of things. I've already shared in a previous post about my overall struggle regarding the real potential to tick everyone off. But the other challenge is that there are so many elements on which to shine a light, which one do I tackle first? Let's go to the tape. . . .

The tape, of course, is the revelation that Donald Trump bragged to (then) entertainment reporter Billy Bush about his ability to "have his way" with women (yes, I'm being diplomatic about something that at best was a rude, crude description and, at worst, an admission of possible assault). The exchange was caught on tape and recently released. Mr. Trump has characterized it as "locker room talk" and apologized. Many GOP lawmakers, evangelical leaders, and a host of others have repudiated the candidate. And, of course, in late breaking news, a few women have said that Mr. Trump's statements were not words only, but actions. To be fair, their accusations have not been substantiated, and Mr. Trump denies them, but they are certainly a cause of concern.

Three trains of thought come to mind:

We can't easily dismiss the claims against Donald Trump
So why did this 11 year old tape take so long to surface and why did these women wait until now to reveal Mr. Trump's treatment of them? First of all, regarding the women, it is not uncommon for a victim to remain silent. Some of it is born out of fear, some of it is embarrassment, some of it is a certain amount of self-doubt (did I somehow encourage this? was it my fault?). I would hope we've come far enough of our understanding sexual assault that we not dismiss these accusers out of hand. And I have to admit (with my limited knowledge), nothing the women have said so far sounds in-credible. It all sounds very consistent with Donald Trump's public personality and, yes, with his "locker room talk."

Which leads us back to the tape. What was on the tape was disgusting. Deplorable. Degrading. We can dismiss it as "locker room talk," but let's face it: the behavior it describes and even the language that is used is unacceptable.  But some of my conservative, Christian friends have said, "it's not that big a deal. Why are we condemning him for something he did  eleven years ago? He has apologized, so we should forgive him and move on."

Yes, I agree whole heartily we should forgive Donald Trump. But "moving on" might be a little more complicated. I can forgive the drug addict who steals my electronics to feed his habit. But I won't leave him unsupervised in my house. I will look for signs of continued drug use. I will love him and encourage him and rejoice in his victories. But unconditional forgiveness is not blindness. Or naivety. Yes, I forgive Donald Trump. But it took him eleven years to "confess" his sin (and only because the tape surfaced) and there have been no indications that he is a different man than before. Maybe he is. But we only have his public personality to evaluate and they suggest (not prove) he may have the same attitudes toward women as he had eleven years ago. Moving on is not so simple.

This could be a set up
But let's take a look at the other side of the coin. Aside from his "locker room" tape, there is no solid evidence to substantiate the claims of Mr. Trump's accusers. And while I prefer to give victims the benefit of the doubt, yes, some women do lie. We cannot blindly reject the idea that this could very well be a set up. NBC has had the "locker room" tape for eleven years, but during the entire run of the hit series The Apprentice, it never saw the proverbial light of day. While there are certainly legitimate reasons why the alleged victims may not have spoken out for eleven years, the fact is, they are only speaking out now, during a critical election season. The timing is more than convenient. Saturday Night Live brilliantly nailed this in a sketch portraying the Clinton campaign celebrating, with Hillary Clinton unable to contain her delight over this damaging revelation.  So there exists at least the possibility that these allegations are unfounded. Until more substantial proof surfaces, the question will remain unanswered.

What all this says about media and society
However, another troubling part of this whole thing  is the sudden focus on morality in our society.  Hey, I'm a stuck-in-the-mud, old fashioned values, Bible-believing Christian, but I get a little distressed when I hear representatives of the liberal left pontificate about the terribleness of Donald Trump's tape. Whenever Christians speak out against sexual situations or obscenity on television or movies, they are widely condemned as prudes, Puritans, or Pollyannas who want to destroy our civilization by imposing their narrow view of what is right or wrong in society. Meanwhile, we are treated to all types of  depictions of immorality, a great deal of which involves the degradation of women. It seems more than a little, I don't know, uhhh--hypocritical?

And then there are the athletes and celebrities who make fun of Donald Trump by saying that he's probably never been in a locker room, because men don't really talk that way in locker rooms. I beg to differ. The expression "locker room talk" existed before Donald Trump's apology and has always meant the kind of crude, bragging conversations that usually center on women. In some cases, it's little more than tall tales, but regardless, some men really do talk that way.  Let's tone down the feigned shock. If every newscaster or celebrity had tapes of their off-camera words and deeds, it would be quite a revelation to a lot of admirers.

And yes, NBC fired Billy Bush for his role in the "locker room" tape, but I noticed it did not prevent them from putting him on the Today Show in the first place. Only when they were stuck between exposing the "terrible immorality" of Donald Trump and showing their own media personality involved in the same thing did they take action. What else could they do?

Suddenly, prominent people who have never regarded the Bible as anything special are pulling out quotes to inform us all what "good Christians" should think about all this. While I'm glad to see anyone reading the Bible for guidance, I fear that many of these folks don't really give a flying care about what the Bible says; rather, their main goal is to maybe point out what they perceive as hypocrisy among Trump supporters. Where is the tolerance? Where is the very Biblical and Christian virtue of forgiveness? And that is an ongoing irritation, not only in this campaign, but in society overall: people who don't believe the Bible trying to convince the faithful about what the Bible says. Just something to think about.

Please do not take my comments as a rejection or endorsement of either candidate. Like many Americans, I'm struggling with this election. These posts represent what one of my teachers called, "thinking through my keyboard." I welcome your comments, but name calling, foul language, or general mean-spiritedness will not be allowed. Good points made logically and consistently (with maybe a dash of humor) goes a long way, even if you disagree.

And remember: no matter what happens in November, Jesus is still King of Kings and Lord of Lords!


Tuesday, October 11, 2016


I did not want to chime in to the rumblings of the 2016 Presidential race.  For one thing, I have some very well defined convictions about politics and Presidents in general that would most certainly irk people on both sides of the political spectrum. For another thing, this contest in particular is so explosive that I feel like anything I say will provoke the ire of the devoted of both parties. And finally, I make it personal mission to avoid irritating people, even if I profoundly disagree with them. I would prefer to engage in intelligent dialogue with someone who disagrees with me and depart as friends than have someone call me names, then stomp off.

So there you have it: irksomeness, ire, and irritation. You've been warned. I think this will take a few posts, since I don't want to overwhelm you with everything at once.  And now is probably a good time to remind you that the opinions are mine alone and do not always reflect the views of my church, its leadership, its staff, my friends, family, the dog, my daughter's cats (who live with us and about whom I am tempted to fire off a blog or two), or any political party. I'd also like to remind you that your comments are welcome, but rudeness, crudeness, foul language, name calling, etc. might get you deleted. My blog, my rules.

And now that we have the disclaimers out of the way. . .

I've been asked how a "good Christian" could possibly support Donald Trump. The question has been asked by liberals, conservatives, non-Christians, and atheists. It's a frequent subject on social media, with some writers going so far as to indict the whole of evangelicalism and even Christianity as a whole. The outrage over the so-called "religious right's" backing of Mr. Trump was happening long before the revelation this week of a crude recording, but it certainly intensified with the tape. "How can you, a 'good Christian,' possibly vote for this man?" the pundits cried.

In an upcoming blog, I will address the recording and what it says about our society, but for now, let me establish that I have not thrown my support to Mr. Trump. People ask me who I'm voting for and I just shrug and say, "I honestly don't know." I think framing the debate in terms of what a "good Christian" should do or think is misleading. Saying someone should reject Donald Trump because a "good Christian" would reject him carries about as much weight as saying a "good Christian" should reject Hillary Clinton. I've heard both. And, to be blunt, it's just so much noise.

Donald Trump speaks to many issues with which I agree. Secretary Clinton speaks to many issues with which I disagree. Oh that the choice would be that simple. Mr. Trump verbally expresses his support for my faith, while Mrs. Clinton has verbally denigrated the things in which I believe. I wish the decision rested solely between the candidate who says, "I'm for you, Bible-believing Christian," and the candidate who says, "I'm against you." Simple. Easy peasy.

Except, from what I've observed, Mr. Trump is the kind of person my dad warned me about. My dad and I did not see eye to eye on Christianity and he was pretty sure that this young teenager was turning into a wild-eyed fanatic. And he would warn me about how I'd be walking in a strange area and somebody would come up to me and start talking about the Bible or Jesus and, like a man in a trance, I would follow him, whereupon I would be robbed, beaten up, or worse. My dad's opinion of my naivety notwithstanding, I got the point. People will say or do almost anything to ingratiate themselves. I've seen candidates for local offices suddenly become active church members, only to vanish after the election. I've been invited to pray at secular gatherings, just because the host wanted "the Big Guy upstairs" to smile down on the proceedings (which often involved alcohol).

The tipping point to me was the speech at Liberty University, when Mr. Trump referred to "Two Corinthians." Yeah, it's a minor point. And yes, I've heard some preachers use that terminology. It's not like the original Greek designates the correct usage of the name of a book. It's not really that big a deal. Except, well, it was a large, evangelical student body. Most Bible-believing Christians would use the designation, "Second Corinthians." Unless they were not that familiar with the Book they were quoting or the audience to whom they were speaking. At that moment, I felt like Mr. Trump had asked someone on his staff to find a Bible verse he could use for his speech. But contrary to my dad's assessment of my ability to spot a con artist, I felt like he was trying to win me over. It didn't work. And adding that to the rest that was said and the rest that would be said, I have to say I cannot whole-heartedly support Donald Trump.

But that doesn't mean I'm voting for Hillary Clinton either. I don't have time to list everything, but her social/political stands alone often run contrary to my own beliefs. Nor is she attempting to spin those positions to assuage my concerns. With Mrs. Clinton, I feel as though I am a non-entity, a throw back to the dark ages. Bible-believing Christians will be tolerated, unless they get in the way. I have a problem throwing my hat in the ring with someone who, to put it simply, is against most of my convictions.

So what's a "good Christian" supposed to do? I don't know if "good Christian" always applies to me, or even if it should apply to me at all. While I am not ambivalent about the Bible and the Christian faith. I'm not as certain on the instersection of faith and politics. Yeah, if they violate the Scripture, it's easy, but if both go against it, then what? Hopefully, I'll be addressing some of these questions in future posts.

And one final word: no matter what happens in November, Jesus is still King of Kings and Lord of Lords.


Saturday, July 16, 2016


I don't play golf or even really follow golf. My experience with golf is limited to the course at the Family Fun Center or a stint at a video game console. Nobody would mistake me for a good player. Or an average player.

I did not intentionally turn on the tv to watch the last few holes of the Open tournament. It's just what was on while I worked on something else. I tuned in just in time to watch one of the champions miss what would normally be "an easy shot." And then I watched one of his opponents knock a ball right into an ugly looking sand trap. I saw balls go into the rough, into the bushes, into other sandtraps, and roll teasingly away from the hole the player was aiming for.

And I thought, "that's exactly what would happen to me!" As one who has stretched a par 4 hole into 7 or 8 stokes at the moving drawbridge, I am familiar with bad shots. And if I was in the Open, I'm sure I could hear the commentator intone with his soft British accent, "Looks like another bad shot for Tim. He really is a poor player."

But they don't say stuff like that about the pros. Why is that? How come the highly talented golfer who makes a bad shot still get to be called "highly talented?" Why don't people boo the pro bowler who fails to knock all the pins down?  Ever think about batting averages? .300 or .400 is respectable, but it still means the player missed 6 or 7 times!

The answer is simple: it's not the bad shot that defines the player, but the next shot.

I saw this played out on the Open.  The player had knocked the ball in the sand trap. He walked over, calculated his stroke, then hit the ball onto the green near the hole! And the crowd goes wild! If we're watching highlights that evening, the sports anchor will play that amazing, out-of-the-sand-trap shot and heap accolades upon the skilled golfer. The bowler picks up the spare and the batter gets the hit.

Yes, a hole-in-one is a great accomplishment. But if all a player ever did was get holes-in-one, would golf be so interesting to watch? Probably not. The real measure of a golfer's skill isn't so much their ability to put the ball in the cup, but in their ability to get out of a bad situation.

And how many times have I let my own bad situations, my own "bad shots" define me? I can't tell you how many "sand traps" I've been in, some from circumstance, a lot from bad decisions, but all accompanied by the soft thud, the groan of the crowd, and the commentator whispering, "What a pity, this is tough one for Tim." And I'm sure I'm not alone.

So what sets us apart? It's in what we do to take the next shot. We remember that God is with us, not just in the good times, but in the bad. Especially in the bad. The enemy will mock and belittle us with that soft whisper that we're no good, look where we've landed, we really are bad at being a spouse, a parent, an employee, clean and sober, or (fill in the blank). But God says, "This isn't permanent. Take the next shot."

Yeah, I know, it's more complex than that. It may take a series of good shots to overcome one bad shot. But as a wise man once observed, "Success is getting up one more time than you fall down." But don't let the bad shots define you. Take the next shot. Rejoice in the victory.

And the crowd goes wild!


Tuesday, April 05, 2016


(the following post was written late at night and is more personal than most. Fair warning.)

Today was a big day for our church. A historic section of the church building was torn down in spectacular fashion by some heavy equipment. More on this later. . .

One of the ministries to children at our church is "Bible Story Time." This is based on the "release time" state law that allows elementary children (with parental permission) to be dismissed from class in order to participate in "religious instruction." In our case, a group of walkers goes over to the elementary school up the street, collects nearly 100 children, and escorts them to the church,where they sing and hear a Bible lesson. Then they are walked back to school.

We've been doing this for 60 plus years!

Today at Bible Story Time, our story teller did Joshua 4. If you are familiar with the Bible, chapter 3 is where Joshua, the new, dynamic leader of the next generation of Israelites, leads the people across the Jordan River, into the Promised Land.  It had to have been a time of mixed emotions. The previous generation, along with their leader Moses, was dead. With anticipation and excitement and courage and maybe a little apprehension and fear, the children of Israel were ready to take the land. Joshua sticks his big toe in the river, the river miraculously stops flowing, and the people march across while the priests hold the Ark of the Covenant in the middle. And then things get interesting. . .
As chapter 4 begins and before the priests can move, Joshua says, "One more thing: Each tribe needs to go back and get a river rock." So while the priests are standing there, holding this ark (I can imagine what's going on in their minds!), a representative from each tribe goes back to the middle of the dried up Jordan, picks a big rock, and carries it back to shore. They take these rocks and build an memorial to the Lord, so that succeeding generations will be taught how God helped the Israelites get across the river).

The river rocks would serve as a reminder to the future generations about God's faithfulness to the previous ones. 

Now about our building demo. . .

It only took two hours for the old office wing to be knocked down. The original church building was built in 1906 and some time in the next 35 years, the office wing was added (we're still researching the date). We will be building a new sanctuary in the coming months (a project called ARISE. . . and how God brought all this about is a story for another time!), which meant the old office wing had to be come down. It's exciting, but for some, it's also sobering and sad and bittersweet. The previous generations had built and faithfully served in this section of the building. A lot of memories rose to the surface, even as sections of roof, timber, and rock crashed to the ground. Two hours and this historic wing lay in a heap of rubble. The rest of the day was spent hauling the debris away.

And then, things get interesting again. . .

With the empty basement staring up like a drained swimming pool, our pastor noticed that he could see portions of the old foundation for the church building. And what was the main material in that foundation?

River rocks!

I speak to my dear friends and church family at EPCBC, but also to anyone who might be struggling with crossing the Jordan, fearing the previous generations might be left behind:  Don't forget the river rocks!  The river rocks aren't there to stop the new generation from moving ahead, but to provide a base upon which to march forward. We honor those who have gone before and we will look at the river rocks with fond memories of God's faithfulness to us and to our local church. And we will go forward. Just like the new generation of God's children. Just like Bible Story Time for over half a century. And just like EPCBC.


Friday, March 25, 2016


He is risen!

He is risen indeed!

Yes, it's Easter time, a glorious season to remember and celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ. What a great thought: Jesus, Who is God the Son, the Second Person of the Trinity, died to pay the price for your sins and mine, then three days later, He rose again, so that by trusting Him as Lord and Savior, we can have eternal life and a day to day relationship with Him.  What's not to celebrate?

Not so fast, there, Skippy!

About this time every year, I start getting emails, seeing Facebook posts, and reading blog entries that try to dump cold water over my Easter enthusiasm. I'm not referring to skeptics or cultists who either try to deny the literal, bodily resurrection of Christ or who try to show that historic Christianity has it all wrong, but they alone have the truth. No, I'm talking about those self-professed paganism professors who not only know the detailed sinister origins of Easter, but can show you the insidiously evil function of every symbol traditionally associated with the holiday (and if they seem eerily familiar, it's because they also come out in December to let the air out of Christmas).

These folks, to various degrees, feel it is their duty to point out that eggs and rabbits were used in ancient fertility cults and therefore, should not be used by Christians. Even the holiday known as "Easter" is named after Ishtar (or variations thereof) and has nothing to do with Jesus, so churches that celebrate Easter are, in essence, denying the faith.

I don't have the time or patience in this blog to specifically address the specific arguments against Easter eggs or anything else connected with it. I just want to leave a couple of thoughts (with the usual stipulations that the views expressed here are mine alone):

1. How is the hard-boiled egg that sat in my fridge the night before suddenly transformed into an instrument of paganism when I put some food-coloring on it? Doesn't that seem like an inordinate amount of power to give to something that will eventually be chopped up and put in a salad?  Using an egg does not mean I'm engaging in pagan rituals any more than saying, "It's Thursday" means I'm revering Thor, the god of thunder for whom the day is named (sorry Chris Hemsworth fans).

2. I know this stuff. I know about the eggs, Ishtar, bunnies, and the spring rituals. I'd venture a guess that most educated Christians have heard about all this. But when I get to the end of a rich, full Sunday of remembering and rejoicing in the resurrection of Christ and celebrating the life He gives, I'm not thinking about what ancient pagans did. It's not even on my radar. And while the unbeliever may not be contemplating the truth of Scripture while engaging in egg hunts or gathering with family for dinner, he is likely not thinking of paganism either.

I'm not trying to argue for or against Easter celebrations by Christians. . .or anyone else. I commemorate Jesus' triumph over death because He saved me and I love Him.  You can argue all you want about whether or not the organized Church should have "Christianized" a pagan festival, but the fact that, for millions of believers, Easter means the resurrection of Christ, I'd say the process was successful.

Agree or disagree, I welcome your comments, but be nice. If you want to "egg" me on, I might just delete your comment and that's no yolk!


Wednesday, December 16, 2015


I confess that I don't attend too many holiday parties. I would say it's because of my hectic schedule, but I know folks that attend three or four parties a night and still have time and energy to go to work, spend time with their families, and be productive citizens. So I guess I have no excuse.

But I do have some parties and gatherings under my belt, each one providing fun and meaningful memories. I don't always have detailed recollections, but more like snapshots of events.

Sunday School Move. I don't remember if I was in middle school or high school, but our small Sunday School class held our own Christmas party during class time. We had refreshments and music and a gift exchange. I liked Sunday School because it was one of the few places where the popular and the unpopular hung out together. And the holidays, with preparations for Christmas programs and caroling, were especially fun.

When we exchanged gifts, I received a model kit of a German roadster.  I laughed and said, "That's funny. At the school gift exchange, I got a model kit of a German bi-plane.  I wonder what it means?"

Without planning, the whole class said, "you should move to Germany." It was a funny moment that always sticks out in my mind (and yes, they were teasing).

Bible Study at Pastor's House. Back in Colorado, our Wednesday afternoon Bible Study moved to the Pastor's house on the week of Christmas for a special gathering (the Pastor in this case was me). We enjoyed treats, relaxed, shared, had a short, informal study, and just enjoyed each other's company.

Candlelight Fellowship. Our church in California rented a facility for Sunday Morning Services, so our other weekly gatherings were in homes. So, as expected, it was a tight fit for the annual Christmas Eve candlelight service. But what we lacked in space, we made up for in fellowship. It was a party, really, with guests bringing refreshments, sharing, and laughing. We just sort of blended into the service, with music, Scripture, and then the candlelight ceremony (accompanied by Evie's "A Thousand Candles"). It was a time of love and warmth.

Day Care parties. Our church operated a day care center for a number of years. At Christmas, we came together to eat a meal, share treats, and exchange presents. Two things stand out about these parties: 1) The laughter. The stress and difficulties of the week seemed to vanish as we shared our stories and broke out in glee over the smallest things.  2) Jazz Choir. The local high school had a special group of singers that toured local businesses and events. We tried to make it a point to invite them each year to sing for us. To this day, when I think of "Santa Baby," I think of the Jazz Choir.

I haven't been to a lot of parties, but I've been to enough to have had a lot of fun. May you enjoy your own set of memories as you gather with friends, family, and co-workers to celebrate.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015


I have a lot of special Christmas memories. Some are very detailed and specific. Others are like quick photographs, out-of-context images embedded in my mind.

Several of these "pictures" involve travel. During my college days, I went back and forth between Colorado and California via the goodness of friends or courtesy of the bus lines. It was the trips during the holidays that always stuck in my mind.

Music: Hurtling down the highway. It's dark and most of the passengers in our car have settled in to a quiet reverie. Except  for the few who are listening to Evie's "Come On Ring Those Bells" for the 20th time. Or the highly techno cover of the "Hallelujah Chorus." Or when our driver croons along with Bing Crosby's "White Christmas", along with distinctive warble. Even today, when I hear some of these songs, I can hear the drone of the vehicle and see the landscape slipping past my window.

Fatigue: It sounds funny to list this as a memory, but plug a few college students in a car for a thirty hour drive and see if you don't remember it.  Not that there weren't moments of tension (getting lost has a way of doing that). But what usually comes to my mind are the jokes, the laughter, the time at the 24 hour diner, at which I am convinced there is a yellowing bulletin by the counter warning about us (ok, we laughed and joked a lot...we were a bunch of Christian college students, not rowdy bikers!).

Lights: All cross-country trips, whether in a car or a bus, have the same view of city after city, town after town, one right after another. Unless you stop for gas or meals, they all approach, pass, and fade out your window.  But at Christmas time, it was as if each burg brought out its finest to welcome one and all to their town. It was as if it was a shared party. And each year, whether with one or six or a bunch of fellow travelers, I always thought, "I know Who the Guest of Honor is!"

The Reunion: Most of my Christmas travel memories happened in college. When I got married, "home" was where my wife was. But one year, we went through a transition and a move. My family relocated to Oregon, but I had to stay behind in Colorado to wrap up lose ends. It was a difficult time and I feared that I'd never be able to afford to make it to Oregon (not that I could stay in Colorado either). But thanks to some friends, I was able to get a bus ticket to travel the week of Christmas. I had no idea what the Lord had in store for me in the months ahead, but I knew that I was going to be with family.

The trip on the bus had everything.  I saw city after city with lights. Theological issues aside, Salt Lake City knows how to deck out a town for Christmas. There was the drone of the bus, the weariness of travel, but the shared camaraderie of fellow passengers heading for holiday destinations. We even had music, as the bus driver valiantly attempted to lead us in "Jingle Bells."

And then, the day before Christmas Eve, a foggy day, I arrived "home" to my wife and three "tator tots."  And the destination made the long bus ride all the more memorable.

I have many Christmas thoughts and memories which I look forward to sharing. But those scenes of buzzing over the highway in anticipation to Christmas celebrations with family and friends stick in my mind and heart to this day.