Monday, March 29, 2010


Yesterday was the draft for one of the teams in my Fantasy Baseball Leagues. (My wife Dianne now knows that I have more than one team. Don't worry, dear. I'll manage them on the computer before you get going in the day.) I don't participate in live drafts. That's far too much work. I let the computer draft for me and then I enjoy the challenge of trades, identifying free agents, and setting a roster each week to see if I can produce a winner. I had one team last year, the Landisville Sluggers, who finished third in their division and became one of the two wild card teams (my team was also third out of the league's 12 teams). Hanley Ramirez, Andre Ethier, Evan Longoria were the stars. And my beloved Detroit Tigers pitching staff.

Now for a little honest confession:

Sometimes I think I spend too much time on the computer. I know my wife thinks so, especially when it’s her computer I seem to be hogging. I blog and FACEBOOK. I email, I web surf for great sites about religion and life.

But in the summer this all ramps up as the Major League Baseball season begins because it also signals the beginning of the Fantasy Baseball season. Last summer I ventured in to it a small way, entering the Landisville Sluggers into one of MLB.Coms thousands of leagues. Trading, seeking free agents, setting weekly lineups were a new rush. Then there was watching my game in progress (and watching the real games in progress via computer that added points to “my game”) could consume an entire evening.

I am out of market for my own beloved Detroit Tigers, so I watch their games on computer, too. So caught up was I by my Sluggers that sometimes I only gave a few moments to my Tigers. Am I just a little bit out of touch with reality or what?

Well this summer I have added Leyland’s Powerhouse to my MLB holdings. And I have opened a new front in the CBS Fantasy Game with the Dunn Tiger Cats in the King Jesus League. So far, I have promised myself (and by extension, my wife) to check results in the early hours when I first arise and remind myself that watching the game live (if it can be called that when you’re talking about a computer simulation of a fantasy game) may put too great a stranglehold on my life.

Nonetheless, Opening Day is less than a week away.

Sunday, March 28, 2010


We are midway through a series at church on "Bad News--Good News--Best News." Late cartoonist Johnny Hart summed this up a few years ago in his comic strip B.C. As Holy Week begins, let us remember that these seven days celebrate the most life-changing events in human history. In a world where life is so "daily", we need to remember that eternity rules!

Then there's this man-G.K. Chesterton - an Anglo-Catholic of the previous century and a contemporary of C.S. Lewis. Many years ago a newspaper editor wrote to Chesterton asking what he thought was wrong with the world. Chesterton wrote back a terse commentary, "I am."
As Holy Week begins I am reminded that Christ had to come into the world and die on that cross because of my guilt. Who put him on that cross? Not the Romans, the Jewish leaders, the crowds - I did.

Then there's that darned Easter Bunny, that sugar-terrorist threatening the lives of our obese and diabetic children. I know that's a bit over the edge, but as a 59 year old diabetic, I know how hard it has become to resist that sugar. Too many childhood and adolescent years where no one helped me lay down a healthy pattern. Instead, I am still a chocoholic and donut-aholic and you get the point. I really wonder if a little more Empty Tomb isn't better for our children than those Cadbury Eggs.

And now three more basketball games Easter Saturday and Monday and the NCAA tournament will be over. Not one of my Final Four predictions made it--Ohio State, Kentucky and Kansas State all bit the dust this weekend. Villanova barely got out of the gate. Now it's Duke, Michigan State, Butler and West Virginia. Big Ten fans forgive me - GO BUTLER!

Friday, March 26, 2010


This is a thoughtful blog piece from a pastor, Dr. Russell Moore of Louisville, Kentucky. In it he writes:

Don’t Be Afraid

— Monday, March 22nd, 2010 —

“Now these three abide: anger, outrage, and fear—and the greatest of these is fear.”

That’s not in the Bible.

But sometimes I wonder if I think it is.

The United States House of Representatives just passed a health care reform bill that I and lots of other Christians opposed. Such legislation should concern us. There are some bad consequences for the weakest and most vulnerable among us, principally unborn children. But should it also concern us that so many of us are talking today about how afraid we are?

Is it a problem that some of us who are tranquil as still water about biblical doctrine and ecclesial mission are red-faced about Nancy Pelosi and the talking heads on MSNBC? Is it a problem that some who haven’t shared the gospel with their neighbors in months or years are motivated to vent to strangers on the street about how scary national health care will be?"

I would encourage you to click this link and read the rest of his thoughts. Then tell me what you think.

Don’t Be Afraid

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Wednesday, March 24, 2010

WHY PEOPLE DON'T GO TO CHURCH is a new kind of church coming to Harrisburg PA in October. They've got s great pastor, Gilbert Thurston. They share this video on their web site. I'd be interested in your feedback and comments.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010


When I first became involved in Christian ministry, there was a war (among many wars) going on in my particular denominational stream. It was a war over translations. A good friend of mine was one time challenged in Arkansas about his use of the RSV (Revised Standard Version) over the preeminent King James. "I believe you should read the Bible in the original language" said his challenger. "I didn't know you could read Greek and Hebrew," was my friend's response. Or one time when I was filling a pulpit in a church in the mountains of Pennsylvania, an elder greeted me at the door and performed all kinds of gymnastics and contortions to see what translation I was carrying rather than directly challenge me. (That day I had chosen King James simply because I wanted the truth of the Word not to be lost in a battle over the form of the Word, but I confess a little adolescent satisfaction at watching him squirm.)

Go into any Christian book store or Barnes and Noble, for that matter, and you will see a dazzling if not overwhelming array of Bible translations. Their prolific presence reminds us that the holdouts for the 16th Century King James Bible no longer hold the church hostage in its communication to the street language of Elizabethan England, Even the publishers of the King James Version have now created a more 21st century friendly version of the KJV called The New King James Version.

My purpose here is not to bash a version that blessed generations of English-speaking believers. It is simply to make the point that the Christian faith is a living faith intended to bring truth and reconciliation to each new generation. Although some churches believe faithfulness requires preserving ancient forms in every way, the Gospel has a vibrancy and eternality that comes from its content, not its forms.

New generations produce new culture and each new culture has forms that contain and communicate its values. New translations are a testimony that God is at work in the new culture. New translations are a reflection of importance of each new generation being connected to Jesus Christ. Shifting values in a changing and fallen world are a tough enough barrier to overcome. The communication of Gospel needs to break down those barriers and facilitate the all important truth that we need to once again in relationship with the Living God. Bible translations are one of the tools God has given the church to share the Good News.

Monday, March 22, 2010


Last Sunday we began a three-part series heading into Easter called "Bad News, Good News. Best News." The first sermon was "Voices and Visions from Hell." My associate, Barry Sellers challenged people with the reality of Hell. It is a place of torment, but the greatest torment is that we are separated from the presence of God eternally. That's clearly Bad News.

This Sunday, March 28, I will be speaking of Heaven. The message is "Into His Nearer Presence." People often think of Heaven as a reward - nice mansion, no more tears, streets of gold, etc. But Heaven is the ultimate place of a relationship initiated on the Cross where we begin to know the unconditional and unending love of God through Jesus Christ. "Now we know in part," says the Apostle Paul. Imagine living where you know God as He knows you and that relationship brings you eternal peace and joy! That's the Good News.

Then on Easter is the Best News "No More Death." Death is defeated by the empty tomb. Christian no longer to live dominated by death. In fact, even as we live now in the land of the dying, we are living the abundant and eternal. How would your life be changed now in you lived by the resurrection truth - "No More Death" ?

Join us at the Church of God of Landisville,171 Church Street in Landisville PA at either 8.15 or 10.45 Sundays. For directions go to our website at


My grandson Jake celebrates his second birthday tomorrow. He is vibrant, full of life, eager to explore, and just a little too assertive for my firstborn (and naturally assertive) daughter Christi. She and Tim are getting him a tricycle for his birthday.It seemed that he hasn't been walking all that long. I love this picture of Jake from the Children's Museum where he encountered a wind machine. Sort of reminds me of how much of a blast life can be - a good blast, if you just let go and let God take you for a ride. (Better God than Jake on his tricycle).

Speaking of going for a ride, my brackets are a disaster. Northern Iowa, St. Mary's, Cornell, Ohio University will be names long remembered in the hallowed halls of the NCAA tournament chiefs. My two favorites, the Buckeyes and Butler survived the opening round. Kentucky still appears the closest thing to a juggernaut. Of my original final four picks (Kentucky, Ohio State, Kansas State, Villanova) only Villanova is gone. I am becoming a big fan of Cornell.

When I wasn't watching the Road to the Final Four, I was switching to Fox and C-Span to watch the massive power play underway to pass the President's Healthcare Plan. I believe I sympathized with one student staring down his congressman by saying, "How can we pass such a costly bill when as a country we are broke." No question the Plan is a budget buster. If I were convinced it would really meet the needs of those low income and insurance less fellow citizens of mine, I might warm to the plan more. The blatant hypocrisy of the Democrats using the nuclear option they so roundly despised when the Republicans were in control doesn't do that much for my confidence in their integrity; but then the machinations used by congressmen from both sides to publicly oppose a bill while byzantinely voting for their own healthcare pork into the final product just reinforces my political cynicism. I do, however, agree with one man who said, "Americans are frustrated that our leaders can't work together to get the job done on healthcare. Nuclear options aren't working together, they are just old-fashioned power politics.

After a particularly hard winter in the Susquehanna Valley, the arrival of spring makes me think that the best days lie ahead. Nostalgic seniors and cultural doomsayers tend to think the best days are behind us, but as a Christian, I know the best days are ahead. The resurrection which we will celebrate in two weeks is the once and for all testimony that death does not have the last word and sin does not define our destiny. In between Christ's resurrection and my final resurrection, I expect quite a few very good days - years in fact, with the love of my life, Dianne and in fruitful service to God. There will be some good days on the golf course and in the joy of an upcoming wedding. There will be some good days when the chemistry of the Spirit makes my time in the pulpit powerful and very, very good days when I have the privilege of seeing someone give their heart to Jesus Christ.

And neither brackets nor budgets nor anything else in all creation can rob me of the best days that are yet to come by the grace of God.

Sunday, March 21, 2010


This will blow your mind -- in a good way!


When I was a teenager (which was a long, long time ago), there was a popular song used particularly in youth and campus ministries - "They Will Know We are Christians by Our Love." In many ways, the lyrics were a no-brainer for Christians. They pretty much came from Jesus declaration to the disciples on the night before he went to the Cross. "By this sign shall all men know you are my disciples, that you have love for one another," (John 13:35)

Rebecca Manley Pippert in her powerful book on the Resurrection, Hope Has Its Reasons wrote "People have two things in common. We want to be happy and we want to be loved." Song writers, philosophers, social commentators, and supermarket tabloids all testify to the same truth about humanity.

Given that, I am always mystified (and a bit perturbed) by Christians and churches who make their ministry about other things. Bake sales and building campaigns, rituals and rules, preserving their traditions and culture--all at the expense of their primary mission of re-presenting Christ to the world by loving one another and, by extension, loving the people God loves; i.e., the whole world.

I once served a church that was stagnating, not seeing new people. It was a church locked in combat, a sort of civil war over vision and leadership. When they asked the pastor (me) why they were not attracting new people, my answer was "Because unloved people don't want to be connected to a group of people that can't even love their own kind as Christ commanded."

The Cross of Jesus Christ is the instrument by which God declared in no uncertain terms that we must love unconditionally, continuously, genuinely,

Saturday, March 20, 2010


"For God so loved the world that He gave his one and only Son ..." Christians recite this regularly, quoting it almost as naturally as some people say, "Good morning." But does God- love the whole world?

First of all, in fairness to this little boy's note, "with man it may be impossible but with God all things are possible."
We should not dismiss God's ability to do something simply because we know we lack that ability. Nor should we negate its implications for us simply because we are not God.

When the Bible says God loves the whole world - there are no exceptions. People who are not like us, people who do not respect us, people who are not Christians, people whose values run contrary to ours - these are all people that we might want to exclude from this statement. But it is precisely those people that God loves - just as He loves us.

If there is ever a question to that statement, we simply need to go to a statement made by Jesus. "Love your enemies, bless those who persecute you."

Part of our fallen nature is to believe that people have a special right to be loved. Let me say that differently, "of course God should love some of us, because we love Him." The implication of that statement is that we are more deserving of God's love than others. They have to get in line, and if God ever has to choose one over the other, best of the luck to the rest of you.

You only need to read Jesus' story of the Prodigal Son in Luke 15 to know the error in that belief. The older brother was offended by his father's love of the prodigal. The father said, "There's enough love for both of you. My love for him does not diminish my love for you."

The second half of John 3:16 puts this more plainly, "That whoever believes in him would not perish but have everlasting life." And then there's 3:17, "For God did not send his Son to condemn the world but through Him it might be saved."

God's love is based on the truth that none of us are good, none of us deserve His love; but that it is His nature and His desire to love each and every one of us. What God does not love, what He hates, is the thought that we might be separated from Him by our insistence on our sin. Bill Hybels once said, "Walking around, you never lock eyes on someone from whom Christ hasn't died."

God loves the whole world - no exceptions.

Friday, March 19, 2010


Steve Mossburg directs Project HELP in Haiti, the missions arm of my denomination's (Churches of God General Conference) work in Haiti, which includes a hospital, a clinic and many schools that partner with our Haitian Churches. In today's post Steve writes:

"Perhaps the most impressionable moments and haunting memories for those who come to Haiti are the hundreds of tent cities in and around Port au Prince. They began to spring up within days of the Jan. 12th quake. The one in the picture was started about 3 weeks ago about 10 miles outside of port on the slopes of a small mountain range. The rumor is that the Haitian government will give land here and build houses to relocate those who lost their homes.

Though the shelters in this city are mostly tarps there are very few tents, life is tough. There is no readily available drinking water, poor sanitation, no shade and inadequate shelter from the rains that will start coming next month. This of course is the same story repeated most every time disasters hit Third World countries around the world. The news people have left to go somewhere else seeking a fresh story, eventually many of the NGO's will pull out as funding is for the Haiti relief stops and another new disaster springs up and funds and human resources go there. In the end as in the beginning the work is left in the hands of the NGO's who were on the ground before the quake. Those individuals and their organizations that have made a commitment to the Haitian people to make a difference will continue the rebuilding in the years ahead. As one of those individuals who has been committed for eleven years and also one who heads up an organization that started here in 1967 I'm looking at how Project Help-Haiti can be most most effective in the years ahead. "

If you want more updates from someone who continues to be "on the ground" in Haiti, follow the link above and subscribe.

Thursday, March 18, 2010


It is Thursday morning and I am home sick. Sinuses draining, a bit of a temperature, headache that come and goes, desire to sleep about every two hours. Thia was already my day off, so I was going to just stay home and be sick. It'll be a good excuse to watch March Madness on TV. But sick bloggers (or should I say--bloggers who are sick) can't quite stop blogging at any time, so I am keeping myself occupied by blogging (or at least until I fall asleep at the computer.)

My Buckeyes don't play today but I am looking forward the Butler game at 5:00. The scrappy little Bulldogs from Indy are generally the team I root for when OSU is not on the court.

Reading a fascinating book called The Forgotten Way of Jesus by Francis Leeman, who is a part of the New Wineskins Network of churches within the Churches of God, General Conference (my own denominational stream). Leeman says something very insightful:

"Most people believe in God. In fact, almost everybody. We don't all believe the same thing about God, but nearly all of us believe that someone is at home in the universe. Some have thought it through and have good reasons for their belief; others believe just because the thought that we are completely on our own is just too terrifying to consider."

Atheists are a dying breed in the spirituality of the postmodern world. Christians can stop worrying about Stephen Hawkings. For those of us who love Jesus Christ and would like to share His story with others, it's nice to know we can at least have a conversation with people about God and faith.

Tiger's coming back for the Masters. I find I agree with Christine Brennan from USA Today: "... based on what he said and how he said it(at his famous news conference),if Woods wouldn't be gone the whole year, or at least a good portion of it, to work on himself, his marriage and his family. That seemed admirable. He really might miss a major or two or four. This was serious stuff. Perhaps he really was a changed man." It seems now that Wood's contrition was really a PR opportunity. As much as I have celebrated his fist pumps, there is a fist pump mentality here that makes me think Woods; went through this process out of necessity to keep his position and control rather than out of contrition. It may be hard to enjoying the golfing mastery, when I carry this sense of his arrogance. I hope contrition wins. True life change will bring Tiger more happiness than another Green Jacket.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010


How are you connected? Increasingly we are affected by how we are connected. Connections have their risks. Social networking sites have become a prime and productive information source for identity theft as people reveal many of the key details of their lives without even thinking of who might be reading it. Blogs, like this one, provide a platform for people of all opinion stripes whether that opinion has any socially redeeming value at all. Email and texting provide almost instant communication but also keep us from the kind of face-to-face human interaction that is most effective in conflict resolution or insuring genuine understanding.

Recently I attended a conference on the Internet and its uses and heard what may be an oxymoron - intimate anonymity. Such anonymity can be provided by the Internet as you can hide behind a screen name, but mere communication does not equate with intimacy. Just read some of sheer banality and trivia that passes for postings on Facebook.

Yet the social media has given us a new tool and a new motivation for rediscovering precious relationships of a previous time. And it encourages people to leave their isolation and connect with friends. It gives a platform for dialogue that sometimes time and space negate without this help from the Internet. It bids people to stop being closed and parochial islands and connect with friends and ideas continents away.

The social media has sparked a revolution whose impact is yet to be seen in its fullest. Yet it is to be celebrated because it gives one more means for people who are disconnected and lost, to connect and belong.

Monday, March 15, 2010


NCAA Basketball's postseason tournament has created a whole new science called bracketology. WIKIPEDIA has a definition that is useful.

"Bracketology is the process of predicting the field of the NCAA Basketball Tournament, named as such because it is commonly used to fill in the tournament brackets for the postseason. It incorporates some method of predicting what the NCAA Selection Committee will use as its Ratings Percentage Index in order to determine at-large (non-conference winning) teams to complete the field of 65 teams, and, to seed the field by ranking all teams from first through sixty-fifth. ESPN's Joe Lunardi is the inventor of the term "bracketology", starting first as the owner and editor of the Blue Ribbon College Basketball Yearbook and ending up with a gig as the resident bracketologist on ESPN."

It is a fairly sophisticated process having to do with binary functions (whatever they are) and since mathematics still largely remains a mystery, I won't attempt an explanation. Bracketology is essentially an educated guess as to the best teams in America and how they compare to one another. In there are strange words like RPI, "bubble," "body of work" that generally have different meanings as to how they are used in bracketology compared to the rest of life.

Bracketology then leads to predicting, as you work your way through the match-ups to predict the Final Four. This year's number one seeds: Kansas, Syracuse, Duke, Kentucky. Number two seeds: my beloved Buckeyes, Villanova, Kansas State, West Virginia.

My Final Four predictions?





And the winner?(Sorry Buckeyes) KENTUCKY

Have fun

Friday, March 12, 2010


It's Friday night. My wife is leading a small group of women in Bible study in our living room and I am stashed away in our computer room blogging and watching the Big Ten Tournament on television. Anyone who has been watching this tournament and the others, especially the Big East, will know that top seeds and regular season champs have been knocked off by their lesser brethren on the hardwood. (As I write this Texas A&M is leading no. 1 Kansas in the Big Twelve and Alabama is leading no. 2 Kentucky. My beloved Buckeyes made a tremendous comeback when their national championship hopes were almost derailed by a back injury to Evan Turner, their Big Ten Player of the Year. Turner came back six weeks later and the Buckeyes almost became a juggernaut as the captured the Big Ten regular season title and the no. 1 seed in this tournament.

The Michigan Spartans almost derailed that juggernaut. Only a spectacular three pointer by Turner with 2.2 seconds left managed to salvage a 69-68 victory. However, if the Buckeyes has stumbled like Syracuse and Villanova--no one would have been surprised. The NCAA tournament has not yet begun but the madness has.

Speaking of madness, lately I have been thinking about the foolishness of preaching. I just finished an eight part series on making a Fresh Start, and have been in the pulpit 10 out of the past 11 Sundays. People often say, "How do you know what to preach?" or "How do you do that?" In some sense, the greatest danger is to have a message that comforts the comfortable instead of comforting the afflicted. One of the greatest challenges is to speak the truth to people who cannot always handle the truth, and to not be overly self-impressed when the already persuaded agree with you.

I like what Mark Batterson, a minister in Washington DC writes: "You can preach for two reasons: because you have to or because you have to. The first “have to” is because you are on the schedule. The second “have to” is because you have fire shut up in your bones, you have a word from the Lord, you have something conceived by the Holy Spirit that you cannot keep inside. Nothing is worse that the first “have to.” Nothing is greater than the second “have to.”

Jeremiah 20:9 ought to be every preacher’s mantra: “His word is in my heart like a fire, a fire shut up in my bones. I am weary of holding it in; indeed, I cannot.”

If this is madness, let it have more important world impact that who ultimately wins the Big Dance. (By the way, do you remember who was the national champ last year? They won't even make the tournament this year.)


I hate TYPOS. I was just reading the header on this blog and found a small typo. I wonder how long it has been there. Any typo that makes it into print has existed too long.

Typos mar your image. They are a literary smudge on your life's script. You can be seen as a genius or even a savior, but a typo causes people to entertain the thought that you are not thoughtful. That you are careless. I imagine Jesus was glad that he didn't have to print a bulletin or publish a blog. There are no typos in an oral presentation. (As I originally typed that sentence, it read "They are no types ..."

I have learned that to proofread your own work doesn't eliminate typos. Your mind "sees" what you intended to say, not its incorrect spelling. And spell check is not a help if the word resembles another word that means something else. (Is that a typo of meaning?) Secretaries who make typos on the boss's stuff make people think the boss is not supervising properly.

The list of the little "hells" that a typo unleashes goes on.

Yet a typo can also actually be the reflection of someone who thinks deeply and creatively. My wife says my typos come because my mind moves faster than my keyboard. I am far down the track in an idea and don't see the typo that has occurred in the aftermath. (I like that explanation.)

Typos are types typed on a keyboard that rise up and embarrass us. But typos may not be so much a reflection of our haste or carelessness as it is a reflection of our humanity. Hopefully people will measure us by the fruit, not our typos.

Thursday, March 11, 2010


What do you see in a smile? Mischief? Joy? Sheer delight?

The heart of God is best expressed in the smiles of His people? Of all the persons on the planet, Christians have the best reason to be content, joyful, delighted. In a world where God is often out of sight and out of mind, Christians know for a fact one of life's best kept secrets - that God loves us, that Christ died for us, and that nothing can separate us from that love. When the rest of the world is deadly serious and even discouraged by troubles that constantly beset us, Christians know that this life is not all there is and that these difficulties do not ultimately define us. Christians can even smile in adversity because they have found the "peace the passes all understanding" (Philippians 4).

The world may have its jokes at the expense of Christians, but in the end only those who have placed their lives in the loving care of God have a reason to smile.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010


Bloggers read other blogger's blogs. (Bloggers sometimes write other blogs.) I write one called THE OUTWARD FOCUSED CHURCH. Tammie, a former youth worker read a post I did on that blog on the social media. So I checked out her blog called living 3368 and found a series of creative articles on the people we encounter during that whole Lenten journey. She had one on John Mark, the purported naked guy in the Garden of Gethsemane who is using the social media to interact with friends. Read this, you'll get a kick out of it and maybe find another blog to follow.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010


JB Phillips, who was a famous 20th century New Testament scholar and translator, once declared "Our God is too small." He was referring the Modernist tendency to reduce God to a tame deity who posed no threat to human autonomy, a god stripped of His supernatural sovereignty. After all, said the rationalists of the so-called Enlightenment, "The God of the Bible is little more a myth than a reality." Intelligent humanity only needed such a god as an emotional crush for its weakened and least educated members.

But have you ever thought what that really means? What use is a god who is little better than a highly skilled human? What transforming power is available from a being that can be outwitted or replaced by the collective think thank of the best human minds. What benefit is the eternal love of a god who is little more than a backwater prophet with a good PR agent?

From the heart of Hebrew ancient understanding through the proclamation of reality of the Christian apostles, the God who is the Great I Am is the only God worth following and trusting.

All else has no purpose nor no power to change our eternal destiny.

Monday, March 8, 2010


Art Linkletter used to say, "Kids saying the darndest things." In many ways religion is the province of adults. We teach doctrine and duty in adult terms from adult perspectives. Have you ever wondered how kids interpret that as they receive the information through preadolescent grids? Came across this video that suggests that some of our teaching is an "exercise in missing the point." Maybe we need to have a little more clarity.


Sunday, March 7, 2010


I flew home yesterday afternoon from Houston TX, anticipating landing in Harrisburg around 9:40 pm Saturday evening. We actually arrived at Houston's George Bush Airport about 3 and a half before our scheduled departure. My traveling part Dan and I found some good Texas brisket for dinner, wandered a few shops, then headed to the gate for Cincinnati. There we joined two other friends from Lancaster who were also heading home. The flight went well and we arrived at Cincinnati a few minutes early. All that was left was to wait for them to call for boarding on our last piece of the journey.

Have you ever watched people waiting at an airport departure gate? There's the parent who is trying to corral a rambunctious child, and older couples rechecking their itinerary for the tenth time. There are those people who glued to their cell phones or iPhones whiling away the moments talking to the people who will meet that at the home airport. There's the business man down to his short sleeves, who even on a Saturday afternoon, is writing a report and checking his email on his computer. There is the college kid sitting cross-legged on the floor reading a book or listening to music on this iPod. The well dressed middle-aged woman who is sitting quietly and emotionally above the craziness around them. There are the bored people staring out into space.

What is usually true is that they are operating as individuals totally detached from one another. People occupying the same piece of real estate temporarily, trying to be isolated from the demands and disturbances of others.

When they board the plane they push along as quickly as they can and entering the cabin jostle one another a bit to get a prime spot in the overhead compartment. Except for an occasional "excuse me" they settle into their seat still pretty much as individuals hoping that the screaming baby or the babbling passenger is not seated next to them.

That pretty much described the passengers of Delta Flight 6150 to Harrisburg. It was after dark when we boarded, but we were all grateful to be headed on that final leg. Except we sat in the plane for longer than anticipated. Then there was the dreaded announcement that our flight was delayed because of a possible equipment problem, followed by several more such announcements until the inevitable one: "We are going to ask you to deplane and return to the gate as we find another plane."

A strange thing happened when we returned to the terminal. Stranger suddenly became acquaintances. Disconnected people connected. We waited together swapping airline stories, asking about loved ones waiting, offering snacks from our stashes of M and Ms and fruit. Laughing, asking questions about our journeys. When we boarded the next plane, people were polite and courteous, helping one another store luggage, and even swapping seats so that everyone could be more comfortable.

It reminds me that God has wired us for relationships. "Two are better than one," says Ecclesiastes 4:9. Sometimes it takes common problems or common experiences to draw this piece of our spiritual DNA out of hiding.

Two are better.

Thursday, March 4, 2010


Sitting down Monday night to watch NCIS Los Angeles, I experienced a moment of what can only be called grief. "It seems really strange," I said to Dianne, "not to be seeing the Olympics and Vancouver." For two weeks, from that awesome and compelling opening ceremony to the USA vs Canada hockey battle for the gold, I had traveled daily to that magnificent Canadian city and the mountains around it. Ski jumpers, downhill Super G racers, and Apollo Ono racing were where I most often landed. (I saw little of one of Olympic favorites--curling, the timing was all wrong.) But I went as often as anything to see the breath-taking mountains and inspiring lakes that so bless Vancouver.

Now what comes next? New episodes of Law and Order!

If you didn't get enough continuous sports, fear not! March Madness, the NCAA Basketball Tournament starts soon, and next weekend, conference post season tournaments will provide a bridge on the Road to the Final Four that will keep sports adrenalin flowing.

One last thought - would the world come to an end if we gave that adrenalin rush a break?