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5 posts from February 2018

Few men have impressed me as much as Billy Graham

My mother was sure to turn our little black and white television on when one of Billy Graham's was being televised.  Everything would stop for the next hour as the evangelist would share the hope given by Jesus through his death and resurrection.

At the end of the broadcast, there would always be the mass choir singing "Just As I Am Without One Plea."  The words of that song never left me from the time I was seven or eight years old to now when I'm 71.

When I heard on CNN this morning that he died overnight at age 99, I felt the need to stop and listen and to reflect on what his ministry meant in my life.

His whole life was centered on promoting Jesus and the Gospel where the promise of heaven is made for everyone.  Unlike his son Franklin, he was not involved in political parties or causes.  Simply put, he just wanted everybody to know the same hope he knew.

He was a "love reflector."  He was just sharing what he had been given.

I'm anxious to see his headstone.  Many years ago, Billy Graham emphasized that he wanted just two words on his gravestone--"Saved Sinner."  I get it.  That's all I want on mine. 

Click this link for a New York Times story about the life of Billy Graham.

For the rest of my life, I want to continue learning something new everyday


My wife Gladys and I love collecting coffee mugs.  We will cycle mugs in and out of our cupboards where you'll find Starbucks mugs from cities around the world that we've visited.  We also have special mugs from local art fairs and some from Sam's Club that we were just attracted to.  But, two that have a special and permanent spot are from Trinity Church in Lansing.  They have the inscription "Awaken Me."

It seems to be the central theme at Trinity where we attend.  Over scrambled eggs, a piece of unbuttered toast and a big cup of coffee, we talked about how God was "awakening" us.  

I've been bugged by the reality of getting more and more firmly into the third act of my life.  Plays usually have three acts and I'm into my last act.  That's a cold reality that can give one pause for thought.  But, as I get more and more firmly into these new parts of living, I'm firmly convinced of one thing.  Whether my life ends today or tomorrow or ten years from now, I want to be a lifelong learner.  There's something new  that I can learn everyday.  And there are things that I need to be reminded of.

This morning I learned about the half-pipe in snowboarding.  Right now, it's the big rage in the Olympics in South Korea.  What is it?  I went to Wikipedia and quickly learned.  I even discovered that snowboarding got started in Muskegon, Michigan.  That's one item in the secular area.

In the spiritual realm, I re-read the story of the Exodus of the children of Egypt.  Gladys and I are reading through it as part of a Lenten Bible study from and  We are being reminded that God is there and bigger than anything and anybody else.  

He brought hope then as he does now.  It's real hope.

Our topic: Have you ever been disappointed by God?

My friend Ken
My friend Ken and I are reading and talking about Yancey's Disappointment With God

If you sat down on your couch with a coffee, you could probably develop quickly a list of items where God seemed to ignore your well-being.  Right?  Maybe it's a health issue for you or a loved one.  A lost job resulting in bills that can't be paid.  A child that is really sick or perhaps is a prodigal.

What about it?  Why do all these bad things happen to good people?  My friend Ken and I have spent more than six months talking each week over the phone about one chapter in Philip Yancey's book "Disappointment With God."

We are on Chapter 23 where Yancey is getting into what happened to Job in the Bible's Old Testament.  Job was part of a wager between Satan and God.  The devil said that Job would remain faithful to God during a time of testing because God provided a protective hedge.  Take the hedge away.  Will Job turn on God?

Why did God allow this to happen to Job?  Why did God allow more than 250 girls and young women to be molested by a  doctor in central Michigan who treated gymnasts through Michigan State University?  

I've not seen any pat answers to those questions.  Perhaps God will open our hearts and lead us to some answers as we continue with the book and with Job.  Our once-a-week call is in an hour.  

Disappointment With God
The Philip Yancey book that my friend Ken and I are reading.


Meet my two brothers and sister who I know about


Deep down I've always been envious of those who have brothers and sisters.  My mother had six brothers and five sisters.  Everybody seems to have siblings.  Some of these relationships are made of pure gold while others are tarnished and have a lot of destructive rust.

Well, I found a picture of my two-half- brothers and my half sisters taken when they were young kids.  They were born and raised in New England and New York back in the late twenties.  I never met them, but I knew of their existence.  

As I got older, I grew in the realization that they were blood siblings in that we shared the same father.  Hence, they are my brothers and sisters.  The power of those words came home to me when my nephew who found me through the web talked about my sister.  I could feel the tears welling up in the sides of my eyes.  "I have a sister!"

I hope that someday my grandkids see this picture and see how complex and multi-layered life can get.  As I get closer to turning 72, I've learned the importance of being familiar with at least the top layers.  It really helps in getting to know who you are and who you came from and who you are related to.

Old family pictures are invaluable.

The best part of seeing the Harlem Globetrotters play at MSU was the walk back to the car


 So, what'd I think of the Harlem Globetrotters who played at Michigan State University on Friday night?  It was better than I remembered from watching them back in my hometown of Bay City more than sixty years ago.  Amazing basketball skills mixed with a real skills as entertainers.  They had personality plus, tumbling skills, amazing ball handling skills and a sense for engaging their audience to the max.

My seven-year-old grandson Xavier loved it.  It started with a pizza at the Student Union.  Then my grandson, his dad and I walked to the Breslin Center.  Because of a Groupon deal, the seats were discounted and in the second row underneath one of the baskets.  You could hear the players talking to each other.

Xavier had a smile that could have been picked up on radar and his excitement seemed to make him vibrate.  Mix that with some nachos with cheese and you had one happy boy.

But, the payoff for me was on the walk back to the car from the Breslin to the parking lot at the International Center about a mile away.  It was really cold and dark outside.  His excitement was still overflowing and he said about four times that he loved doing stuff with me and his dad.  That will go down in my mental memory book.

As his maternal grandfather, this made me really feel proud.  I'm still smiling after a fun night.  There are lots of grandfathers out there with grandsons who are looking forward to doing something special.  One word reply:  Look up "Groupon" and you'll find something.  

Next time, how about sky diving?  Maybe when it's warmer.