TheOreology (Shepherd’s Echo)

[The Shepherd’s Echo is a reposting of a previously published TheShepherdsPen.]

Oreos! One of life’s little indulgences. I mean, after all, there are worse things I could do right? Tell me if this sounds familiar. “Oooh, a bag of Oreos! I shouldn’t really but I will open it and have a few. Those were good, maybe just one more, or two, that couldn’t hurt anything, could it? Maybe three. Wow, I like those. Maybe I will have another four or five more, and just skip dinner. What is this stuff inside? Maybe I shoulda got the double-stuf. Where is the milk? These are good dunked. I will have another 5 or 6 and do a few extra sit-ups tonight before bed. Huh? There are only 7 more left in the bag; I guess I will finish those off. What’s the use of trying to save 7 cookies for later? That’s like saving one gulp of milk in the carton. Isn’t it?  Wow! I am full. Hey, who ate my bag of Oreos?”

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True North (Shepherd’s Echo)

[The Shepherd’s Echo is a reposting of a previously published TheShepherdsPen.]

Many people may say that science disproves the existence of God. Let me propose that science not only proves the existence of God, but if anything, science historically disproves itself. The ancient minds understood there to be only 1300 or so planets. Present knowledge has determined that there is somewhere around 21 billion trillion planets. Also, take for example the brilliant minds of the first fourteen centuries AD that insisted that the world was flat. It was not until the work of Columbus that scientist and the civilized world knew this was false. How about the scientific community that declared that the sun revolved around the earth? That wasn’t true either. It wasn’t until the work of Copernicus that the science reversed its position. And yet, how many other scientific assertions are being promoted as absolute truth?

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The Corpse Flower (Shepherd’s Echo)

[The Shepherd’s Echo is a reposting of a previously published TheShepherdsPen.]

There is a most unusual product of God’s creation, which grows only in the regions of Sumatra. It is known as the Amorphophallus Titanium. It is a single “flower” that blooms only so seldom. The lower casing of the flower is green on the outside and a deep dark burgundy on the inside. The “stamen” on the inside resembles a large loaf of French bread. It can grow up to 20 feet in height. This oddity of nature is most peculiar in that the odor that it emits is reminiscent to that of decomposing mammal. Hence, it’s more commonly called the “Corpse Flower.”

Why would a flower like this exist? You may ask. Why would something so beautiful have diabolical undertones? Well, here is the “gruesome” truth. The fragrance of the flower draws or lures carcass-eating insects such as beetles and flesh-eating flies that are attracted to the smell of rotting meat. It is these insects that walk on the plant picking up pollen and then carrying this pollen to other plants assisting in the process of pollination. Amazingly enough, when pollination occurs the tip of the flower is at human body temperature thus furthering to deceive the unsuspecting carcass-eating insects.

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Who Let the Dogma Out? (Shepherd’s Echo)

[The Shepherd’s Echo is a reposting of a previously published TheShepherdsPen.]

It’s rather interesting to me and yet, confusing at the same time how we seem to choose the “appropriate” church to attend. Maybe we go because the speaker is a great orator. Maybe we go because we particularly like the people there. Maybe it’s because the refreshments are the tastiest in town. Maybe it is a large church that allows you to be somewhat anonymous. Maybe it’s small enough to facilitate intimacy and accountability. Or perhaps it is because the building is so beautiful, or that church has an amazing children’s program.

Not to categorically discount those traits but I have to ask, “In selecting a church to attend, is it at all important to understand their particular beliefs?” These beliefs are their “teachings,” what have been historically referred to as dogma, dogmatics, or simply just doctrine. In essence, it is their understanding of truth.

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Tumbleweeds (Shepherd’s Echo)

[The Shepherd’s Echo is a reposting of a previously published TheShepherdsPen.]

The curse of sin in the garden launched a lot of adversity into the world. We know that Satan would get thumped in the end for his role in the catastrophe. We know that woman would suffer greatly in all things “childbirth”, and with repercussions in regards to her husband. We also know the great opponent the earth would become to man.

“Cursed is the ground because of you;
In toil you will eat of it
All the days of your life.
Both thorns and thistles it shall grow for you…”
(Genesis 3:17b-18a)

The ground itself is cursed because of the disobedience of Adam; as a result, it will begin to produce “thorns and thistles” which are contrary to his labors of gardening.

Continue reading “Tumbleweeds (Shepherd’s Echo)”

Jenga Theology (Shepherd’s Echo)

I would imagine most of us are aware of the pastime game of Jenga. The name comes from the Swahili word meaning “to build.” It is the game that begins with 54 wooden tiles that are neatly stacked in levels of three to establish a stable tower. The object of the game is for players to knock out tiles from one level and place them in ever taller and increasingly unstable levels as the game progresses. The game ceases when the actions of one of the players, through the movement of a tile, causes the tower to collapse.

Perhaps in the realm of table games, this is a winner, but it doesn’t work so well in the world of theology. All too often I see people trying to poke holes in sound theology to come up with a “modified” and weakened form of theological understanding, “something not so restrictive.” The resultant effect is a monstrosity of structure that is unstable and filled with holes.

Continue reading “Jenga Theology (Shepherd’s Echo)”

Sweet Liberty (Shepherd’s Echo)

This is a little something that I wrote and recorded in the ’80s.

Click on the sound bar at top to listen.

Sweet Liberty

Now, She stands tall for all to see, watching over the Land of the Free,
Crowning us with glory sea to sea, God blessed us with our Sweet Liberty.

She cries with silent lips, from sea-washed, sunset gates,
“God will shed His grace on thee.”
Her mild eyes command, the keys to shackles worn.
Oh, she lights the way to opportunity!

Well, She stands tall for all to see, watching over the Land of the Free,
Crowning us with glory sea to sea, God blessed us with our Sweet Liberty.

She holds the word of truth, closely to her heart,
Her freedom rings forever through this land,
May her flame burn bright, from shore to shore.
Let the torch rise high evermore!

She stands tall for all to see, watching over the Land of the Free,
Crowning us with glory sea to sea, God blessed us with our Sweet Liberty.

She stands tall for all to see, watching over the Land of the Free,
Crowning us with glory sea to sea, God blessed us with our Sweet Liberty.

Chocolate Colored Sprinkles (Shepherd’s Echo)

[The Shepherd’s Echo is a reposting of a previously published TheShepherdsPen.]

Recently my wife pointed out to me a rather pathetic, but amusing example of how minimal our culture has become. She had received as a gift what we understood to be those great tasting little chocolate sprinkles that you put on top of ice cream or cakes or whatever. Now sometimes, as we all know, those splendid little morsels are not always pure chocolate; sometimes those rascals put mere chocolate flavoring in those things. Well, that’s okay for the most part, in fact, sometimes you cannot even tell the difference between artificial and the real stuff. But these things were simply brown colored grease that made the roof of my mouth slimy.

Come to find out, these are not chocolate sprinkles, or even chocolate flavored sprinkles, but these are chocolate colored sprinkles. You read that right. They were not bursting with real chocolate flavor, or even synthetic chocolate flavor. In fact, they had no flavor whatsoever. All they had to offer was the color of chocolate. This little rip-off in the cake decoration section was only a bottle of brown lard sprinkles. Someone at the corporate level had determined to cut costs, or hassles or whatever, and be so intentionally minimalistic, they offered nothing even close to the real thing. Continue reading “Chocolate Colored Sprinkles (Shepherd’s Echo)”

From Here to There (Shepherd’s Pen)

[The Shepherd’s Echo is a reposting of a previously published TheShepherdsPen.]

It seems like we spend generous amounts of our time and effort getting from one place to another, figuratively or otherwise. From one freeway to another. From one job to “a better” one. From one dwelling to the next. Maybe even from one emotional state to one that is more satisfying. Yet, often what inhibits us from achieving that goal is some sort of barrier that shuts us down, so we give up. After all, if it’s “impossible” or just too hard we re-evaluate the benefits and lose motivation.

 I can’t help but think of another situation where people are trying to get “from here to there.” It takes place in the book of Exodus. After being in slavery for 400-plus years the Israelites have been reminded that they would be given a land of their own – the Promised Land, originally promised to Abraham. The only problem is that they had to break away from Egypt to get there. Continue reading “From Here to There (Shepherd’s Pen)”

Legacy (Shepherd’s Echo)

What comes to mind when you hear the word “legacy”? Perhaps it is somebody’s reputation. Maybe it brings to mind the name of quality paint, or a good brand of windows for your home. Still, yet again it may simply bring to mind the image of a quality automobile. How about if you were to hear the word in the context of Father’s Day? Now what does it bring to mind? If you were like most men I would imagine that it means how people will remember you after you have departed from this world (This article just got sober, huh?). Continue reading “Legacy (Shepherd’s Echo)”

Mr. Potato Head (Shepherd’s Pen)

[The Shepherd’s Echo is a reposting of a previously published TheShepherdsPen.]

For those of us who grew up in the fifties and sixties we are well aware of that iconic toy, Mr. Potato Head. Hugely successful over the course of its sixty-year reign, it is a plastic-bodied potato into which various features could be stuck to characterize the object into various facial distinctions or personalities. Part of the fun is mischievously placing the parts in the wrong areas for amusement. The toy has gone through many iterations and characters as a result of its success.

Facial parts placed in the wrong areas on a potato can be amusing, and cause us to laugh when a nose is inserted where an eye should be, or an eye in place of a ear, but that sort of tomfoolery doesn’t bode well when applied to a church, the body of Christ. Continue reading “Mr. Potato Head (Shepherd’s Pen)”

The Last Bite (Shepherd’s Echo)

[The Shepherd’s Echo is a reposting of a previously published TheShepherdsPen.]

I remember the image well. The Tramp and Lady have tug-o-warred over a spaghetti noodle and at long last Tramp has conceded the final meatball on the plate. He gently rolls it over to her side of the plate with his nose, a certain sign of giving to one who he truly holds so dear. One of the most notable demonstrations of pasta chivalry imparted to celluloid. The scene is from the movie, “Lady and the Tramp,” though, his behavior is anything but trampish.

I must confess that that sort of chivalry has not been evidenced all too often in the Larson household, at least when there is food, and especially where desserts are involved. And when it comes to the sharing of Hula Pie at Duke’s all bets are off. Macadamia ice cream in an Oreo crust, topped with macadamias, fudge and whipped cream… Delectable. Continue reading “The Last Bite (Shepherd’s Echo)”

Honor Guard (Shepherd’s Echo)

[The Shepherd’s Echo is a reposting of a previously published TheShepherdsPen.]

What a blessing the Honor Guard is to those in military service! It demonstrates high standards of appearance and conduct. They provide funeral honors for fallen comrades, guard national monuments, and defend the flag. In effect they act as ambassadors, or sentinels of honor.  But what does it actually mean that they guard the honor, or protect the honor of the military? It means to guard or demonstrate respect, esteem, affirm, and even cherish those they hold to be of value. They get it! They realize the benefit of affirmation, and ascription of honor to individuals so deserving. But this is nothing new to the wisdom of God. Continue reading “Honor Guard (Shepherd’s Echo)”

God, or Something Like Him (Shepherd’s Echo)

[The Shepherd’s Echo is a reposting of a previously published TheShepherdsPen.]

“There is a God-shaped vacuum in the heart of every man, which cannot be filled by any created thing, but only by God the Creator, made known through Jesus Christ”– So contends Blaise Pascal, the famous French theologian, and philosopher. Now, I am not aware of any such Scripture specifically affirming the statement, but Romans 2:15 speaks of the Law as being written upon the hearts of men. Though the metaphor may be limited in some capacities, the imagery is profound. Continue reading “God, or Something Like Him (Shepherd’s Echo)”

Love Leaves a Mark (Shepherd’s Echo)

January 6, 1971 began unlike any other day in my youthful life. It was very early in the morning, well before dawn. I was in bed dreaming when I was ushered into the day by screams of my mother. “Boys, boys! Get up!” Our house was engulfed in flames, due to an iron, or a dryer left on in the laundry room. My mother, who slept in an opposite end of the house had awakened to find the house swallowed in fire, and she attempted to make her way through the residence trying to awaken her four children who were held captive inside the flames, yet the intense heat restricted her from doing so. We were facing near-certain doom. Continue reading “Love Leaves a Mark (Shepherd’s Echo)”

Var står det skrivet? (Shepherd’s Echo)

The church with which I am affiliated (the Evangelical Free Church) has a rich heritage of tradition, as do many denominations. It is a “big tent” church that embraces the gospel. And, as such, it is very intentional to embrace the true Church of “Believers only, but all believers” as the body of Christ; that means we recognize the redeemed as greater than any one denomination.  And it believes in staunchly confirming the Word of God as the “Rule of Faith” for all things pertaining to faith, life and godliness; this is the doctrine of sola scriptura. Our predecessors had a saying in Swedish (from whom the denomination emanated), Var står det skrivet?” In English it means,”Where stands it written?” Continue reading “Var står det skrivet? (Shepherd’s Echo)”

Have Mercy Upon Me (Shepherd’s Echo)

Jesus is an absolute master of “Virtual Flannel Boards.” You remember those, perhaps from your childhood Sunday school classes. Flannel boards were those instructional visual aids to help in the telling of a story. With the props, and scenes, and figures, and such, they helped us grasp the Biblical narrative. Christ had the amazing ability to describe these flannel boards as though they were hovering in midair for all the people to see. It was in part this great skill which so allowed Him to effectively communicate powerful truths. I am sure the crowds could visualize the pictures which Christ presented. In so doing, these parables of Christ struck quickly, and they struck at the hearts of those listening. Continue reading “Have Mercy Upon Me (Shepherd’s Echo)”

After “Ever After” (Shepherd’s Echo)

[The Shepherd’s Echo is a reposting of a previously published TheShepherdsPen.]

And they lived…“Happily ever after.” How many times we have read those all too familiar words as the iconic fairy-tale ending? As the newly crowned king ascends to his throne, as the beautiful princess finds true love, as the newlywed sovereigns begin their journey of ever-after blissfulness. These words flow well off the tongue and work well in a fairy tale, but sadly enough they cannot sustain the weight of reality.

The truth is these words truncate the story of real-life much too soon. For, at some point in the near future of our fictional character’s lives, “until” will come.  You see, in the very real world is the word, “until.” Until changes the course of action as it implies “up to a certain point in time.” Until suggests that a particular state of being is about to shift.   Continue reading “After “Ever After” (Shepherd’s Echo)”

The Shadow of Christ (Shepherd’s Echo)

[The Shepherd’s Echo is a reposting of a previously published TheShepherdsPen.]

Shadows are funny things. They are visually there, but they are not substantively there. A shadow can arrive before a person does, or it can remain behind for a bit after the person leaves. In either case, it is not the actual person, but a silhouette, so to speak, of that person. In that respect, Biblical prophecy actually casts a shadow on history, as events can precede an event, or leave a shadow behind.

It should be no surprise to us that our week of Easter generally coincides with the Passover celebration. If we look at Scripture closely, that is what has been predicted all along. In other words, it was no coincidence that Christ fulfilled His Messianic prophecy at the time of Passover. The Old Testament had long predicted the coming of a Messiah to bring salvation. In fact, Genesis 3:15 announces this coming of the Messiah that would eradicate the effects of sin, and “crush” the head of Satan. Continue reading “The Shadow of Christ (Shepherd’s Echo)”

Bovine Scrabble (Shepherd’s Echo)

Image courtesy of The R. A. Fox Society

[The Shepherd’s Echo is a reposting of a previously published TheShepherdsPen.]

S-O-L-A-T-I-N-G: the act of transforming a gelatinous substance into one of a liquefied, soluble state. How Cool! Two triple-word scores, one double-letter score and 50 bonus points for using all seven tiles – BINGO. 131 Points! I was King of the Scrabble board. No way was my opponent (my iPhone) going to touch me, as I was now some 150 points ahead. The game was all but over.

Next thing I knew there I was, staring at a herd of cows in a corral. And they were all challenging me, speaking to me, “Mooo.” I remember thinking, “There is no way you guys could beat me in Scrabble…I am King of the Board.” How could you beat me with only one word? They kept trying to persuade me but they could come up with nothing better than “moo,” a mere 6 points. I did hear one offer up, “MmooO!,” but even with the right place to play it, and a triple-word score value the best she would have merited is 27 points, “Ha!, a far cry from 131 points.” Make your best moooove, cow. Continue reading “Bovine Scrabble (Shepherd’s Echo)”

The Pane of Deception (Shepherd’s Echo)

[The Shepherd’s Echo is a reposting of a previously published TheShepherdsPen.]

As we approached the doorstep of our friend’s house we noticed there upon the deck, beneath the window the body of a beautiful bird. Its breast was a brilliant yellow and its feathers of a rich green-brown tone. It was beautiful, still it was dead, and its limp and lifeless body told the all too familiar story that occurs each, and every day.

While in flight this creature had come down to the level of the window and perceived open skies as far as he could see but he was deceived. Flying at full speed the last thing it had seen was the reflection of unending skies in the window that were actually behind him. And then…snap, instant death. Life for him was over, and now he lay motionless on the deck, another casualty of deception. The window had revealed the promise of vast eternal horizons but in the end delivered a quick and brutal death to the unsuspecting victim. Continue reading “The Pane of Deception (Shepherd’s Echo)”

Stolen Grace (Shepherd’s Echo)

[The Shepherd’s Echo is a reposting of a previously published TheShepherdsPen.]

Even in the “on demand” society in which we live, most of us understand that there is a protocol to the acquisition of our desires. We do not visit a store and simply take what we want; we realize there is a need abide by socially acceptable norms. We need to pay for it. At times we may be the recipients of items for which we have not been required to pay – those are called gifts. And even in those cases we don’t determine when we take ownership of them, we must wait for the giver to make that decision. We all “get that.” We understand that in the realm of the world, but we have difficulty at times grasping that in the context of God’s economy.

How many of us are willing to run to our favorite sin knowing full well it is offensive to God, yet expecting to be completely forgiven of it by playing the grace card? “It doesn’t really matter that much, cause I am saved. Christ paid for that sin.” I think we all do that to some degree whether or not we see it in our own lives. And though it is true that the blood of Christ paid for our sins, should we be so presumptuous, so careless as to toss grace around like a borrowed credit card?  … If we are so quick to do that, what does that say about our hearts? Continue reading “Stolen Grace (Shepherd’s Echo)”

The Moral Cliff (Shepherd’s Echo)

[The Shepherd’s Echo is a reposting of a previously published TheShepherdsPen.]

Much concern has been drawing the attention and ire of politicians and the American public in recent weeks – it is the fiscal cliff. It is the very possible prospect of “not being able to pay our bills” and recognizing that on a national level (Can you say, “Hello austerity measures and the European economy?”). The implication is that once we go over the edge there is no point of return. We sail to the bottom only to be dashed on the rocky landscape of failure below.

While this looming scenario is dire, it is only one of the threats to our society, as we know it. We have seen an unprecedented erosion of ethics, economics, spirituality, accountability and financial responsibility in recent years. It has been a mad dash to see who could bankrupt their cache of inalienable rights the fastest as though insolvency, economic or otherwise was the noble ideal.

Perhaps, the one I see as the most daunting, yet clearly minimalized, is our moral decay. The moral fortitude of this country when we began is a far cry from the picture we face now, and no doubt would be unrecognizable to the founders of this country. Yet for hundreds of years now we have been gleefully plunging into the dark abyss of moral corrosion and self-absorption.

We went over the “moral” cliff long ago and have been in freefall for centuries. If any given behavior was wrong thirty years ago, then it is still wrong. There is not a sliding scale that ebbs and flows according to the whimsical morality of a waning value system. Morals do not change with time as though our nation’s values expired or went through a time of obsolescence.

Yet we continue our downward spiral, smacking against protruding rocks and crashing through jutting branches toward our appointment with a rapidly approaching and abrupt “stop.”

If you’re still reading this sobering indictment, more power too ya; it is dismal. Here’s where we turn the corner. Can we change? Maybe, maybe not. Is there any hope? Yes, there is always hope when God is involved.

I think of the Biblical story of Jonah. God had decided to judge the land of Nineveh because of their evil. Jonah was an unwilling, yet obedient agent sent to communicate the impending doom upon the land. The Ninevites repented and turned from their abominable acts.

Jonah 3:5-6 says, “Then the people of Nineveh believed in God; and they called a fast and put on sackcloth from the greatest to the least of them. When the word reached the king of Nineveh, he arose from his throne, laid aside his robe from him, covered himself with sackcloth and sat on the ashes.” As a result the Lord relented from the calamity, which He was about to send.

Is it even conceivable for a nation to radically change direction in this day and age? Yes. President Yoweri Museveni celebrated Uganda’s 50th anniversary of independence a few years back, calling for national repentance from sins, including his own. “Forgive us of sins of pride, tribalism and sectarianism; sins of laziness, indifference and irresponsibility; sins of corruption and bribery that have eroded our national resources; sins of sexual immorality, drunkenness and debauchery; sins of unforgiveness, bitterness, hatred and revenge; sins of injustice, oppression and exploitation; sins of rebellion, insubordination, strife and conflict.” Shades of Daniel 9 for sure. Pretty well covers it I would say, and pretty well identifies our sins as well.

I can’t help but believe that God will honor these requests if they are embraced by the nation. From my fencepost the answer is simple. Turn back to God, the God of the Bible and everything else will work itself out. Will it take time? You bet. We have built up quite a lot of momentum heading in the wrong direction, but God is a rewarder of those who seek Him.

“Wise men still seek Him.”

Are You Ready? (Shepherd’s Echo)

Few of the parables of Christ have sparked such debate as that of the ten virgins and their lamps. Though it is pretty well accepted that Christ is the bridegroom much else seems to be up for debate. Questions prompted are: Who are the virgins? What is their role? What are the lamps and what is the oil all about?  Some of the theories can get pretty complicated, and in my opinion, convoluted to the point where the parable is reduced to minimal importance.

Allow me to weigh in with just a few observations. The parable is found in the first 13 verses of Matthew 25. It is set amongst other parables relating to the end times, specifically the return of Christ, and how people are to be living life in anticipation of that day. Continue reading “Are You Ready? (Shepherd’s Echo)”

Liar, Liar (Shepherd’s Echo)

[The Shepherd’s Echo is a reposting of a previously published TheShepherdsPen.]

Many of us are familiar with some form of the child-hood rhyme: “Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire!” The complete version I learned was, “Liar, Liar, pants on fire, nose as long as a telephone wire!”

Though there are several iterations, and there are multiple “explanations” as to what this really means, it does seem to be universally accepted as a taunting indictment, which is cast toward someone who has been caught in a lie. It would appear that the garment on fire is a judgment of sorts, and the elongated nose even a reference to Pinocchio’s nose when he lied.

My mind wonders how interesting it would be if all such vile actions were revealed and judged this way. Hmmm? Self-igniting attire? And incriminating bodily contortions?…Wouldn’t it be convenient if other pieces of apparel spontaneously combusted so as to judge the inappropriate presence of gossip, slander, or wickedness? What if flapping ears, bubbling lips, and twisting eye-lids heralded that something was awry?

It would sure make it a lot easier to know what kind of character your friends had, and with whom you should choose to be hanging out. I imagine it would make it easier to figure out whom to hire, with whom you should do your banking, or who to put on the witness stand.

Yet, were that true, we would likely all be a poorly dressed, and distorted lot.

Proverbs 6:16-19 gives a pretty depressing cache of deplorable behaviors of mankind.

“There are six things which the Lord hates,
Yes, seven which are an abomination to Him:
Haughty eyes, a lying tongue,
And hands that shed innocent blood,
A heart that devises wicked plans,
Feet that run rapidly to evil,
A false witness who utters lies,
And one who spreads strife among brothers.”

The eyes, the tongue, the hands, the heart, the feet, the false witness, and the one who fosters dissention; these actions of such are abominable to the Lord. Abominable: detestable, repulsive!

Now, I’d like to think that these behaviors were relegated to the unbelieving of a depraved society, but to my chagrin, I have witnessed these abundantly within the walls of the Church. And yet, if they are so repulsive to the Lord, then why on Earth do we so readily embrace them? Oh, the evil that lurks in the darkness of every human soul!

Obviously, we are steeped in our sinful nature, so perhaps we do it simply because we can “get away with it”, or perhaps because we are not immediately judged for such conduct. My guess though is, that we comfortably engage in such atrocities after we have sufficiently “sanctified” them. After we have justified this behavior in our minds as being “necessary” then we are free (in our own minds) to do that which is expressly forbidden or despised of God. Actually, I think we do this with most sin.

“It’s for the greater good.” “It’s only because I am concerned.” “I only say this because I am hurt.” As though any of these conveniences of conscience would absolve one from guilt.

Well…it doesn’t appear that tormenting clothing and telling physical anomalies will be coming anytime soon to help us discern the spiritual integrity of others. But I would suggest that Proverbs cautions us to be on the alert, and to scrutinize our own actions. Though our bodies may not indict us, nor our clothing adjudicate us, God knows the heart of man; He knows what is done in the shadows, and He knows when we are doing wrong – at some point there will be a reckoning.

Neither asbestos threads, nor plastic surgery will be of any value; the answer is internal. “But the things that proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and those defile the man” (Matthew 15:18). So, the answer lies in the heart; but it needs to be a heart of right character; a heart that is fostered in step with the will of God. They can be little factories of sin, or they can be measures of glory to honor our Father in heaven. Of utmost importance then is the stewardship, the protection of a right heart.

“Watch over your heart with all diligence, For from it flow the springs of life” (Proverbs 4:23).

God sees. God knows. God honors.

“For the eyes of the Lord move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His” (2 Chronicles 16:9).

Find us Lord!

And may our hearts be truly, completely Yours!

The Smell of Knowledge (Shepherd’s Echo)

[The Shepherd’s Echo is a reposting of a previously published TheShepherdsPen.]

When I think of knowledge I think of books. When I think of books I think of the fragrance of books, and books come in two “flavors.” The first one is the smell that hits you when you open up a brand-new book; it is the overwhelming aroma of fresh ink and paper. I associate that smell with the pleasurable experience of buying a brand-new book and the anticipation of soaking up its contents. Mmmm. The second aroma is that of Grandma’s basement, yes, Grandma’s basement, that musty damp smell that meant you are lost in the midst of antiquities. Books that smell like this are old and often frail but offer the promise of a treasure trove of ancient knowledge. I love it.

What can I say? I love books. I love the smells. I love the tactile experience of the pages between the fingers. I enjoy sneaking ahead to see how many pages are left, or just finding out how the book will end. So, when it comes to the newfangled digital books on Kindles and iPads I am sort of in a quandary. I am between generations. You see, I do love technology, but I love good old-fashioned books. Did I say that already? Nothing can replace that experience. Perhaps, it would be a good idea to place a scented sticker at the top of the Kindle which smells like a new book or musty pages to simulate the true paper experience, sort of like that “new car smell,” but alas, even that would fall short; the event just cannot be synthesized. Yes, the smell of books signifies knowledge. Continue reading “The Smell of Knowledge (Shepherd’s Echo)”

The Pillar of Truth (Shepherd’s Echo)

In 1 Timothy 3:15, Paul writes to his protégé, “but in case I am delayed, I write so that you will know how one ought to conduct himself in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and support of the truth.”

Paul’s intent is to visit Timothy in person, but in the event that he is delayed, he desires to remind Timothy in this letter of the privileged position of the Church.

Paul makes an incredible assertion regarding the mission of the Church; it is to be “a pillar and support of the truth.” A pillar is something which elevates, or holds high for all the world to see something which is on top. To support is to be a rock-solid foundation of those truths. Continue reading “The Pillar of Truth (Shepherd’s Echo)”

Abyss of Accountability (Shepherd’s Echo)

[The Shepherd’s Echo is a reposting of a previously published TheShepherdsPen.]

For better or worse, one of the identifying characteristics of Americans is our rogue independent spirit. We pride ourselves on migrating across the sea, establishing our own country, pioneering west and conquering the elements with no one to thank but our humble little old selves (thank you very much). A little arrogant to say the least, and we continue to wave that banner of self-reliance to the world, refusing to be conquered by any, and accountable to no one; my heart grieves to suggest this takes place in the Christian realm as well. Continue reading “Abyss of Accountability (Shepherd’s Echo)”

“Bobble-Head” Christians (Shepherd’s Echo)

It seems somewhere along the way, that the prevalent worldview of the last 2 thousand years has taken a hit, especially over the last 150 years. Time was when the dominant respecters of higher education were those who embraced the Christian faith. Did you know that Princeton (1812), Harvard (1636) and Yale (1701) all began as Christian seminaries? Those that were champions of higher education were those who embraced the Bible. Wow! Where have those days gone? Today, in the arena of higher education, Christians are often viewed as the naïve, simpletons, bobble heads on campus, merely nodding in agreement to a “ridiculous” way of understanding. Now, Christians are ridiculed for holding to a worldview many believe is irrational and illogical. Today we are judged to be intellectually inferior. So much for “tolerance”! Continue reading ““Bobble-Head” Christians (Shepherd’s Echo)”

Veneer (Shepherd’s Echo)

[The Shepherd’s Echo is a reposting of a previously published TheShepherdsPen.]

I love the beauty of wood. The providential symphony of rich textures. The divinely choreographed grains.  The celestial concert of variegated colors. What a privilege for the woodworker to take a solid chunk of this great material and turn it into a work of art, to sculpt from the palette of the Creator! What a pleasure it is for me to gaze upon furniture or cabinets that are demonstrations of God’s incredible creativity in the measure of wood.

Unfortunately the demand upon this beautiful resource has made these materials more and more scarce, and thus they are used more seldom. The solution has been to take a thin sheet, a veneer of this attractive wood and laminate it over a much less expensive base layer. The end result is a product, which on the surface appears to have the integrity of this valuable material through and through when it is in fact, only a façade.   Continue reading “Veneer (Shepherd’s Echo)”