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By SMH Webmaster on 11/21/2017 1:29 PM
“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done,” Philippians 4:6 NLT.

The word, “Thanksgiving”, occurs twenty eight times in the King James Version of the Bible. It is mentioned in reference to the religious practice of offering animal sacrifices. Often the thanksgiving offering was part of the peace offering and included products that were made of grain such as unleavened cakes and leavened breads. The sacrifice was not totally consumed by fire but portions of it were shared with the priests and some of it was returned to the worshiper. They in turn, would gather their family and friends and share a thanksgiving meal with them. 

Other references to thanksgiving refer to an attitude of praise and thankfulness in response to the generous gifts of God. Phrases like, “the voice of thanksgiving” (Psalm 26:7), or in Psalm 69:30 songs of thanksgiving and in Philippians 4:6, where the Apostle Paul tells us not to worry but to be thankful.  
By SMH Webmaster on 11/21/2017 1:26 PM
“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.” Matthew 7:7, 8

Some time ago, I received a package in the mail from one of my son’s in law. The package contained a cross with the “Lord’s Prayer” inscribed on it in Norwegian. Since he travels a lot, I had asked him to look out for unique crosses that might have some connection with the region of the world in which they are found. I am collecting crosses from around the world as a decorative and inspirational feature for the Hospital Chapel. In addition to the cross he also sent me a plaque depicting a pastoral scene with the above Bible verses written below the picture, again in Norwegian. It is a favorite Bible passage for many and is used by life coaches, sales managers and pastors to encourage people not to give up trying or praying. At first glance it looks like a blank check, ask and you will receive. However, when taken in context, it is much more than that.
By SMH Webmaster on 11/6/2017 1:22 PM
“Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal comfort and a wonderful hope, 17 comfort you and strengthen you in every good thing you do and say.” 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17 NLT                   

The word hope is used 109 times in the King James Version of the Bible and in nearly all cases it is part of a phrase that connects hope to God. Some phrases talk about the absence of hope without God, like Job 8:13, which deals with the condition of those who forget God. Psalm 31:24 tells the saints to have courage because they hope in the Lord. Psalm 43:5 is a verse of self encouragement saying, “hope thou in God for I shall yet praise him [who is] the health of my countenance, and my God.” In the New Testament, the Apostle Paul tells us that we hope for things that we have not yet seen and learn patience in the process. Romans 8:24, 25
By SMH Webmaster on 10/31/2017 11:44 AM
“Be on guard. Stand firm in the faith Be courageous. Be strong.” 1 Corinthians 16:13 NLT

October 31, 2017 is the 500th anniversary of the birth of the Protestant Reformation. On this day in 1517, Martin Luther, nailed a document containing ninety-five radical opinions, opposing long held doctrines of the Roman Catholic Church, to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany. This bold action started a controversy that would give rise to the excommunication of Luther and ignite the Protestant Reformation.

In 1521, Martin Luther was called to a formal meeting in the city of Worms, Germany, the “Diet of Worms,” where he was ordered by the Holy Roman Emperor, Charles V, to renounce his own writings and teachings. He refused to do so in a most eloquent speech that he closed with these words, "Here I stand; I can do no other. God help me." Upon hearing this, Charles V, branded him an outlaw and a heretic and gave permission in the “Edict of Worms”, that anyone could kill him without consequence.
By SMH Webmaster on 10/24/2017 3:45 PM
“There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that which you are able; but with the temptation also make a way to escape, that you may be able to bear it.” 1 Corinthians 10:13 KJV

October 22nd, 1844, is known in Adventist history as “the great disappointment”. Because of the teaching of an itinerant preacher named William Miller, large numbers of people had pinned their hopes on this day, as the day that Jesus would return to the earth in power and glory to gather the faithful and take them to heaven. The believers, known as the Millerites, were so convinced of the truth of this teaching that many of them sold, gave away or abandoned their businesses, property and belongings.  

When the day came, and went, and Jesus had not come, they were bitterly disappointed. Some gave up on their faith completely, some returned to the churches they had left to follow Miller, others returned to their homes and businesses hoping to salvage what they could and continue their lives. A small group, realizing that they must have made a terrible miscalculation, continued to pray earnestly and study the Bible prophecies, hoping to find what they had missed. Out of this small group of believers, the Seventh-day Adventist Church was eventually formed.
By SMH Webmaster on 10/16/2017 4:14 PM
“And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” John 8:32 NKJV

Everyone tells lies or at least everyone has told lies at some point in their lives. So, what kind of liar are you? Are you good at it? Some people are really bad at telling lies (which is actually a good thing). Young children are not good liars. When caught, crayon in hand, having left a master piece on the wall, even with the evidence right there, they try to deny they did it. If you have ever planned a surprise party, you either told a lie or were party to a lie being told. Some people are pathological liars. Others lie for convenience or to gain an advantage. But most people lie to cover up their shortcomings?

Then there are the lies we believe, like the lies that politicians tell us or the social media lie that we have lots of friends because we have lots of likes on Facebook. We believe the lie that someone else’s definition of beauty defines us. Some of us believe that we can borrow our way to the American dream. Another lie that we believe is the procrastinator’s lie, tomorrow will come.
By SMH Webmaster on 10/9/2017 4:17 PM
“If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?” Matthew 7:11 KJV

Some people are really good gift givers. Have you ever been given something by a spouse, a parent or a really good friend and your reaction was, ‘this is just what I wanted.  How did you know?’  It’s usually because that person is listening when you talk or they know something about your circumstances that only someone close could know. I wouldn’t say that I’m a great gift giver, I don’t always give, “just perfect gift” every time.   But there is one thing that happens to me every time I give a gift.  I get immense joy from giving.  I just love to watch the reaction on the face of the person to whom I have given.  

As I think about the verse above I think about God’s gifts to me. He gives the perfect gift every time. You see he is not like me, he is perfect in love, in wisdom, in power and he does not have a limited budget. He can give me anything he wants to any time he wants to, and he does.  
By SMH Webmaster on 10/3/2017 1:52 PM
“For as the heavens are high above the earth, So great is His mercy toward those who fear Him;” Psalm 103:11

One of my favorite tasks as a pastor is officiating baby dedications. I had the privilege of doing so this past Sabbath. In the Seventh-day Adventist Church, parents are encouraged to bring their children to be dedicated to God in recognition of the fact that the child is a gift from God. As I held the beautiful little baby boy in my arms and prayed the prayer of dedication and blessing, I thought about what his life might be like. I thought about the hopes and dreams that his parents and grandparents have for him. I thought about the world into which he had come. These thoughts fueled my prayers and I prayed for his health and wellbeing, for protection from harm and I prayed for what he might do with his life. I prayed for his parents that they might be able to provide all that he needs so that he could become what God intends for him to be.

As I reflected upon that experience and the focus of my prayer, I began to think about my life. I wondered what the Pastor prayed for me when I was dedicated. What were the hopes and dreams of my parents for me on that day? What was in God’s mind for me on that day? The Bible is full of statements concerning God’s will for our lives, the Pastor probably quoted some of them as part of his prayer, I certainly did. So, how am I doing? How are you doing?  
By SMH Webmaster on 9/25/2017 4:03 PM
“It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man. It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in princes.” Psalm 118:8-9 KJV

“Some trust in chariots, and some in horses: but we will remember the name of the LORD our God.” Psalm 20:7 KJV

As I write this, I am sitting at my gate in the Lima, Peru airport with a small group of colleagues, waiting to board a 12:50am flight to Houston. I’m looking forward to going home but I am also reflecting on the medical mission trip from which we are returning. We did a lot of great work, life changing cleft lip and cleft palate surgeries in Iquitos and extending a healing touch through vision and primary care at our makeshift clinics in Adventists schools in Pucallpa.  
By SMH Webmaster on 9/21/2017 3:37 PM
“My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness.”  2 Corinthians 12:9 KJV

The above passage was God’s answer to the Apostle Paul after he had prayed what he perceived to be a long series of unanswered prayers, asking God to change something he didn’t like. It is unclear what that something was. In his praying, he describes it as a “thorn in the flesh” or “an instrument of Satan to buffet me”.  Whatever it was Paul wanted it gone. I am sure many of us can resonate with the frustration of dealing with something that we wish we didn’t have to. So, what happens when things don’t work out the way you want them to?
By SMH Webmaster on 9/21/2017 3:34 PM
He (Jahaziel) said: "Listen, King Jehoshaphat and all who live in Judah and Jerusalem! This is what the LORD says to you: 'Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God's. 2 Chronicles 20:15 NIV

The nation of Judah had enjoyed many years of peace under the leadership of King Jehoshaphat when the country was suddenly besieged by the allied forces of Ammon, Moab and Mt Seir. Suddenly the hearts of the people of Judah were gripped with fear and they turned to God for answers. The king declared a national fast and led the people in prayer. He recalled the action of God in their history and admitted that they did not have the physical might to match the armies that had come against them. He called on God to deliver them. The story goes on to say that God sent a message in answer to their prayer through one of the Levites which is recorded in the verse above. In modern language, the message said two things:  Don’t be afraid and it’s not your fight. The king took a very unusual military approach to battle. He did not use the military. Instead he chose to have singers lead his army into battle, praising God. In their praise, they recalled how God had blessed them in their history. What follows makes no sense whatsoever but it’s what the Bible says. The allied forces that came to attack Judah, turned on each other and they completely destroyed themselves. It took three days for Judah to collect all the spoils and they did not have to lift a sword.
By SMH Webmaster on 9/5/2017 3:10 PM
“We use God’s mighty weapons, not worldly weapons, to knock down the strongholds of human reasoning and to destroy false arguments.” 2 Corinthians 10:4 NLT

A monument is defined as a statue, building, or other structure erected to commemorate a famous or notable person or event. For thousands of years the rulers of empires, dynasties and nations have erected monuments to proclaim their greatness, to memorialize their military conquests, to demonstrate their wisdom and to celebrate their ideologies. Some of these monuments include the Egyptian, Mayan, Aztec and Inca Pyramids, the Acropolis of Athens, the great Amphitheaters of the Romans. 

Magnificent temples have been erected to honor their various deities. Spectacular palaces have been built in many parts of the world that were built as an expression of political or religious ideologies. Americans have built national monuments like Mount Rushmore, the Washington Monument, the One World Trade Center (a symbol of resilience and hope). We commemorate famous generals and famous athletes by erecting statues in their honor.
By SMH Webmaster on 8/28/2017 2:17 PM
“When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, "Who do people say that the Son of Man is?"* Matthew 16:13 NLT

Because Jesus was such a charismatic teacher and miracle worker there had been a lot of speculation as to who he was.  One day he asked his disciples the question referenced above.  His disciples told him people were saying he was John the Baptist, Jeremiah, Elijah or even Moses.  Wow! Those were some great men to be compared to.  But the people did not really know Jesus, they were basing their guesses on what they had heard about those historic personalities and comparing them with Jesus.  Jesus was not looking for validation.  He knew who he was.  He wanted to know if his disciples knew, so he asked them.  Who do you say that I am?  I can imagine them looking at each other, trying not to be the first one to speak.  Then Peter blurted out who he thought Jesus was, The Christ, son of the Living God and Jesus affirmed that this revelation was from God.
By SMH Webmaster on 8/21/2017 2:15 PM
“Darkness as black as night covers all the nations of the earth, but the glory of the LORD rises and appears over you.” Isaiah 60:2 NLT

Some have been preparing for it for years, others for months and some are still unprepared, but ready or not, here it comes. Dubbed the most watched solar eclipse in history, the 2017 total solar eclipse happens today, August 21, 2017.  The moon will pass between the earth and the sun, casting an eerie darkness increasing in intensity as you get closer to the “Path of Totality,” the approximately 70-mile-wide track of the moon’s shadow across the earth’s surface.  Depending on where you are in the country, the length of totality will vary significantly.  Carbondale IL. will experience totality for about 40 seconds and Kansas City, MO. for about 20 seconds.  Because the moon’s shadow is traveling at about 2400 mph, the whole event from coast to coast will last a little more than an hour and a half.
By SMH Webmaster on 8/14/2017 10:17 AM
“Can the Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard its spots?” Jeremiah 13:23 KJV

Change is a very necessary for any living organism. The body is always renewing itself. It is the constant change at the cellular level that keeps us alive and healthy. Organizations must change and adapt to the evolving needs of the markets they serve in order to remain relevant, viable and profitable. They have to be appropriately responsive to the presence of new competitors in the market place and new technologies that create opportunities for them to be more efficient.

The reality, however, is that change is not always easy. Sometimes it’s not welcome or even desired. In recent news, New York Yankee fans have expressed their displeasure at the idea that their team will, for the first time in the one hundred year history of the franchise, break with tradition and put away the pinstriped uniform, that has never borne the names of the players on their shirts, to don a new uniform for the Major League Baseball (MLB) Players Weekend. Seasoned fans want the team to stick to the way things have always been. Clean cut, pinstripes and no names.
By SMH Webmaster on 8/7/2017 2:41 PM
“Be ye angry, and sin not…” Ephesians 4:26

The Apostle Paul, in his letter to the church in Ephesus, was very intentional about giving guidelines as to how believers should conduct themselves.  In the fourth chapter, he begins by talking about the need to preserve unity. He talked about how to use spiritual gifts, how they should speak to each other, the importance of honesty in communication but that it needs to be seasoned with love. He talked about how their conduct should be markedly different from those outside of the church, listing characteristics that should be avoided. He encouraged them to focus on who they are becoming and strive to move away from who they once were.  He told them that it was ok to get angry but they were not to use anger as an excuse to sin (miss the mark).
By SMH Webmaster on 7/31/2017 10:24 AM
“The woman saith unto him, Sir, give me this water, that I thirst not, neither come hither to draw.” John 4:15 KJV

In 1959, Richard Blanchard wrote a hymn based on the Bible story from which the verse above is taken. Over the years, it has become a beloved favorite. The chorus goes:

“Fill my cup Lord, I lift it up Lord.  
Come and quench this thirsting of my soul.  
Bread of heaven, feed me ‘til I want no more.  
Fill my cup, fill it up and make me whole.”

Jesus was passing through Samaria and stopped by a well where he asked a Samaritan woman for a drink.  The story has multiple applications because it explores many themes; ethic and religious bias, gender roles in the church, and true religion, to name a few. 
By SMH Webmaster on 7/24/2017 3:40 PM
Psalm 37:4 tells us to, “Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart.”

What a wonderful promise!  At first glance it looks like we can get anything we want from God. So let’s start making a list – healing, a pay raise, a newer car, a nicer home, better behaved children, etc. But if we just pause for a moment and take a closer look, the scripture reveals a condition.  It is those that take delight in the Lord that get the desires of their heart.  To delight in the Lord means that we get joy from the things that are important to him - service to humanity and devotion to God.  
By SMH Webmaster on 7/17/2017 1:08 PM
“And he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.” Mark 4:39

Storms can be spectacular.  They have the power to strike terror in the heart because of their devastating power, while at the same time they can leave one awestruck for the very same reason. As I reflect upon a recent night time thunderstorm that passed through the Kansas City Metro.  The forecast warned of wind gusts of about sixty miles per hour but there were no threats of tornadic activity.  I listened to sound of the wind driving the rain up against the window, saw the flashes of lightening and heard the cracking and rumbling of thunder, I was impressed to open my balcony door and watch.

Huge raindrops were coming down in what appeared to be translucent sheets of water so thick that it was hard to see clearly for more than a few buildings.  Lightening streaked across the sky, ripping great tears in the inky blackness of the night canopy, followed by the loud cracking of electricity and the deafening booms of thunder that could be felt as forcefully as it was being heard.  
By SMH Webmaster on 7/10/2017 3:58 PM
“You give them something to eat” Luke 9:13 NIV

Have you ever felt like the need was too great and your resources were too small?  If you are anything like me that usually happens when the bills are due and I haven’t stuck to the budget that month.    

The story of “The feeding of the five thousand” is the only miracle recorded by all four of the Gospel writers.  That suggests to me that there are some very important lessons to be learned from the story. Jesus had taken his disciples away to a quiet place to rest after they had returned from a mission trip. While they were enjoying their quiet time together a large crowd gathered because they wanted to hear Jesus and see more miracles. When Jesus saw the crowd he began to teach them too. They were so enthrall by what he taught that they did not pay any attention to the passing of time and now it was close to evening. One of the disciples suggested to Jesus that he send them away to find food and lodging before nightfall. That was when Jesus said, “You give them something to eat”.  
By SMH Webmaster on 7/5/2017 2:13 PM
“I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people.  Asking God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them.  Pray this way for kings and all who are in authority so that we can live peaceful and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity.  This is good and pleasing to God our Savior, who wants everyone to be saved and to understand the truth.” 1 Timothy 9:1-4 NLT

A pilot received mixed reactions in the news and on social media for his instructions to passengers.  During an AirAsia X flight D7237, bound for Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia from Perth, Australia on June 26, 2017 the flight experienced engine trouble, due to a turbine issue about 75 minutes into the flight.  According to passengers, the plane vibrated like a washing machine on the spin cycle.  The calm voice of the captain was heard informing passengers of what was going on and instructing them what to do.  Among the instructions given, was a request that they pray for a safe landing.
By SMH Webmaster on 6/26/2017 12:00 PM
“And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28 NKJV

Last Tuesday I arrived at the Orlando International Airport at about 5:45am to catch a 7:10am flight to Kansas City.  I had my day planned and was looking forward to getting to my office by 10am to take care of the tasks I had set myself.  I looked up at the giant monitor to locate my gate and to my dismay, I saw that my flight had been cancelled.  Not delayed or had the gate changed, but cancelled.  I had received no notification, so you can imagine that I was more than a little annoyed.  I stared in disbelief at those red letters, Cancelled, as if my staring was going to change anything.  

Gathering myself, I pulled out my smart phone to see if I could get on another flight only to find that there was nothing available until 5:20pm.  I thought about how I had left my new bride sleeping and bristled at the thought of losing precious time we could have spent together.  I’d just returned the rental car and fumed at the thought of being stuck at the airport for the next eleven hours.  All of this only fueled my already rising ire. 
By SMH Webmaster on 6/19/2017 10:47 AM
“And he said to her, "Daughter, your faith has made you well. Go in peace. Your suffering is over.” Mark 5:34

Have you ever really wanted something for a long time and it just wouldn’t happen?   You tried everything you knew in order to make it happen.  How long was it before you thought about asking God for it, I mean really seeking “God’s face” on the matter?  I wonder how it was for the “woman with the issue of blood”, as she has come to be known.  For twelve years she suffered with the same problem.  Read the account in Luke 5:22-34.  It had probably cost her marriage because not only was she barren but she had been unable to fulfill marital expectations, add to that the fact that according to the Levitical laws, she was always in a state of uncleanness and therefore could not even make a meal for her husband or attend Synagogue.   The Bible writers say that she had spent all her money trying to find a cure, without success.  She had reached the point in her life where she had two options, give up or do something desperate.  She chose to do the latter.  
By SMH Webmaster on 6/12/2017 8:31 AM
“Although a righteous person may fall seven times, he gets up again, but the wicked will be brought down by calamity.” Proverbs 24:16 NET Bible

How do people deal with life-changing setbacks such as the death of a loved one, the loss of a job, a devastating illness or that which is becoming all too frequent, terrorist attacks?   These events affect different people in different ways yet in most cases we are able to recover and continue living despite the impact of such trauma.

In recent years we have become quite familiar with a term that describes the ability of the human spirit to bounce back, “resilience”.  A dictionary definition says that resilience is, “the power or ability to return to the original form, position, etc., after being bent, compressed, or stretched; elasticity.” Or “the ability to recover readily from illness, depression, adversity, or the like; buoyancy.”  Therapists and life coaches have written books and articles and have developed workshops and seminars to teach resilience in a variety of settings.  However, resilience training is nothing new.  Thousands of years ago Solomon gave guidance on being resilient.  Quite simply, if you fall, get up again.
By SMH Webmaster on 5/22/2017 3:54 PM
“But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”  Matthew 6:33

Many of us have seen it happen and others of us heard about it as parents and grandparents share their gift giving stories with us.  It is the cutest thing to watch, little children disregarding their gifts and playing with the boxes in which they came.  For a moment, we smile as we watch them play, then we ask ourselves if all the money we spent purchasing those toys was a good idea.  Perhaps we should have just given them boxes.  I wonder if that’s what God thinks when he looks at the way we live our lives.
By SMH Webmaster on 5/17/2017 7:25 AM
“…Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests and said, “What are you willing to give me if I deliver Him to you?”  “Peter…” “Assuredly, I say to you that this night, before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.” Matthew 26:14 and 34 NKJV

What’s the worst thing you’ve ever done?  Did you betray a trust?  Have you lied about someone?  Perhaps you let someone down when they were counting on you.  Did you break someone’s heart?  Have you stolen from someone?  Maybe you abandoned someone.  We have all done things that we regret.  How has it affected your life?  The two people referred to in the Gospel passage above go down in history as the one who betrayed Jesus for a few silver coins and the one who denied Jesus to his face. 
By SMH Webmaster on 5/8/2017 1:53 PM
“For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother.”  Matthew 12:50 KJV

Being part of the family has its privileges.  If you have a famous parent, it can open doors for you.  If you have famous children it can get you recognition too.  In the late 1990’s, Campbells Soup launched an advertising campaign featuring NFL players like Jerome Bettis, Donovan McNabb and DeMarcus Ware being urged by their mothers — sometimes their actual mothers — to eat a bowl of soup. This novel idea sold a lot of soup and allowed the player’s mothers to share in their son’s popularity.  

One would think that being the parents or siblings of Jesus would come with similar privileges, but this section of the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 12:46-50, paints a different picture.  Jesus was preaching and teaching when he received word that his mother and brothers were outside and needed to speak to him.  His response to this seemed to be a little disrespectful.  He asked the messenger, “Who is my mother? And who are my brothers?”  His question seems to be dismissive of his family.  But when we read on and discover the point Jesus is trying to make, that rather than being dismissive, he was being inclusive.
By SMH Webmaster on 5/1/2017 7:56 AM
“Is it time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses, and this temple to lie in ruins?” Haggai 1:4 NKJV

The book of Haggai, consisting of only two chapters, is one of the smallest books of the Bible.  In it is recorded two messages of encouragement, finish what you started and “I will fill this house with glory.”  A little more than five hundred years before the time of Jesus, Judah’s exile to Babylon was over, and many had returned to Jerusalem with the authority of Cyrus, king of Persia, to rebuild the temple.  The work had stalled, and the people had become discouraged and distracted.

The work of rebuilding the Temple, the center of worship, had encountered opposition from antagonistic neighbors who did not want to see them succeed.  Thus, God’s people had turned their attention to building their own homes and focusing on their own needs.  They built elaborate and beautiful homes while the Temple lay in ruins.  Haggai’s message was a challenge to put God first no matter what, and you will prosper.  The result of this call to action revived their enthusiasm, and the Temple was rebuilt.
By SMH Webmaster on 4/24/2017 10:15 AM
“It flowed down the center of the main street. On each side of the river grew a tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, with a fresh crop each month. The leaves were used for medicine to heal the nations,” Revelation 22:2, NLT.

This past Saturday was earth day and as I was thinking about what I might write, I came across a story about the most isolated tree in the world.  I read about it with great wonder and as I came to the end of the story, my heart sank as I learned of what happened to it.

The tree was known as the “Arbre du Ténéré”, the tree of Ténéré.  It began its life as one of possibly thousands of acacia trees in the lush verdant forests of North Africa that drew nourishment from the lakes and streams that were constantly replenished by copious amounts of rainfall.  Gradually the climate changed and the rains ceased.  The rich and diverse forest began to die as the waters of the streams and lakes dried up.  Eventually there were just a few trees left standing because they could drive deep roots into the ground to tap into the subterranean waters.  But even they began to die as the water became less accessible.  Eventually the “Arbre du Ténéré was the only tree standing, for a hundred and twenty miles in any direction.
By SMH Webmaster on 4/11/2017 7:44 AM
“Then an angel appeared to Him from heaven, strengthening Him.”  Luke 22:14

A 2010 study conducted by AARP concluded that 40-45% of seniors feel lonely on a regular basis.  This is sharp rise for the 10-20% reported in the 1970’s and 80’s.  A Huffington Post article in March, 2015 reported that one in five Americans experiences persistent loneliness and while we are the most connected generation in history because of social media, our time has been called “the age of loneliness”.  Fortune Magazine, June 2016, defines loneliness as “perceived social isolation, or the discrepancy between what you want from your social relationships and your perception of those relationships.”  Long-term loneliness can lead to depression, alcohol abuse, overeating and may even contribute to an increase in mortality.
By SMH Webmaster on 4/3/2017 4:41 PM
“For an angel went down at a certain time into the pool and stirred up the water; then whoever stepped in first, after the stirring of the water, was made well of whatever disease he had.” John 5:4 NKJV

The Pool of Bethesda is mentioned once in the Bible.  The name means, house of mercy.  Its exact location is uncertain.  But according to tradition it was near the temple in Jerusalem by the sheep gate.  It was believed by the people of the day that at a certain time, an angel came down and stirred up the water and whoever was the first to get in the water after it was stirred up would be healed of whatever sickness they had.   Most scholars agree that this idea was mere folklore and that the movement of the water was caused by an underground spring that periodically bubbled up into the pool.
By SMH Webmaster on 3/27/2017 9:31 AM
“The LORD told Gideon, “With these 300 men I will rescue you and give you victory over the Midianites. Send all the others home.” Judges 7:7 NLT
 
History records the Battle of Thermopylae, around 480 BC, as one of the greatest examples of patriotism, courage against the odds, and what can be done with a small force properly trained, equipped and positioned, and who are willing to give their all, no matter what the cost.  This event in history, portrayed in the 2006 historical fantasy movie, “300”, by Frank Miller and Lynn Varley, tells the story of a small army of 300 Spartans, led by their king Leonidis.  Legend has it, that this elite fighting force, supported by 700 Thespians and 400 Thebans held off the Persian army possibly 100,000 to 300,000 strong for three days until they were betrayed by a local Greek who told the Persians of a secret pass that led behind the Greek’s lines and the Persians found a way to outflank Leonidis and his army and they were defeated. Only one remained alive and only because the king dismissed him to take a report of what happened back to Sparta.
By SMH Webmaster on 3/20/2017 3:32 PM
And the disciples came and said to Him, “Why do You speak to them in parables?”  Mathew 13:10 NKJV

Jesus often taught in parables.  It was a practice not unique to Jewish culture but was a means of communication that was popular as a teaching tool in the regions around.  Parables were used to communicate complex ideas by illustrating them using a simpler, more familiar metaphor.  An example of this can be seen in the parable of the sower, recorded in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke.   

When his disciples asked him, why he taught using parables?  Jesus’ answer suggested that a parable might have hidden meaning that would be revealed if the listener would take the time to think about it or that could be missed if someone was unwilling to see it as being more than just a story.  Expanding upon this idea, Matthew Henry, the Bible commentator says, “A parable is a shell that keeps good fruit for the diligent, but keeps it from the slothful.”  So it behooves us to reread the parables and seek deeper and clearer understanding of the lessons taught by the master teacher.
By SMH Webmaster on 3/17/2017 2:40 PM
“So be careful how you live. Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise.  Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days.” Ephesians 5:15

Have you ever found yourself facing a pressing deadline, wishing you had more time to get the task done?  Have you ever found yourself wishing that there were more hours in the day?   Most, if not all of us, have had this experience.  The solutions to this problem are limited.  You could work faster, or you could try to find a way to extend the deadline.  We have all tried these solutions and found that working faster sometimes causes us to make mistakes and getting extensions is not always possible.  But we have found a way to get more hours in the day, sort of.  We call it “daylight savings time.”  In the spring we move the clock forward to get more daylight, and in the fall we move it backwards for the same purpose.  While this solution allows us to experience brighter evenings, it doesn’t really add time or resolve our deadline issues, does it?
By SMH Webmaster on 3/7/2017 4:29 PM
“But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, so that you do not appear to men to be fasting, but to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.” Matthew 6:17, 18

Fasting in its most basic form is denying yourself food and drink for a predetermined amount of time.  In many cases fasting can be modified and can include practices such as, refraining from certain foods, or fasting for part of the day, some have even included fasting from entertainment and social media as a way of removing distractions.  When practiced as part of a spiritual discipline, fasting is a time of denying the needs of the body and emphasizing focused devotion and praying to God.
By SMH Webmaster on 2/27/2017 10:39 AM
“Be still and know that I am God…” Psalm 46

At the close of the Sabbath this weekend, a few close friends and I went to a nearby park to watch the sunset.  When we arrived, there were two groups of people, a large group of young people accompanied by a few adults and a smaller group of adults.  It soon became apparent that we were all there for the same reason.  As the sun began to fall toward the horizon I remember experiencing a sense of wonder at the numerous colors as the light of the setting sun sparkled on the lake in front of us and tinged the clouds above us. I thought about the uniqueness of this sunset.  There had never been one like it nor would there ever be another quite like this one.  The large group of young people began to sing a song in Spanish, I recognized the tune but just listened.  When they had finished they began a countdown …3, 2, 1, and as the sun disappeared below the horizon, they cheered. 
By SMH Webmaster on 2/21/2017 1:52 PM
“Peter and John looked at him intently, and Peter said, “Look at us!” The lame man looked at them eagerly, expecting some money. But Peter said, “I don’t have any silver or gold for you. But I’ll give you what I have.”  Acts 3:5-6 NLT

Since 2003, when the Joint Commission called for improvements in patient misidentification, the problem appears to have worsened.  A Ponemon Institute report, cited in Healthtech Magazine spring 2017, surveyed 500 healthcare executives and care providers, 64% said patients are “very frequently” misidentified in a healthcare setting, 86% of that same number said that they have personally witnessed it.  The same report suggests that 28 minutes per shift are lost as a result of misidentification and that it costs about $900,000 per year in lost productivity per facility.
By SMH Webmaster on 2/13/2017 4:54 PM
“Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law.” Romans 13:8 NIV

Love is in the air, everywhere I look around.  Love is in the air, every sight and every sound.  For at least the last four to six weeks, the stores have been full of merchandise aimed at helping us to celebrate Valentine’s Day.  The Jewelers have mounted their advertising campaigns persuading us that we have to buy her that diamond.  Lovers feel the pressure to do something special to express their love and merchants and restaurants are poised to reap the profits.
By SMH Webmaster on 2/6/2017 10:35 AM
“A friend is always loyal, and a brother is born to help in time of need.” Proverbs 17:17 NLT

Take a quick mental survey of your relationships and ask yourself what kind of a friend you are.  Some relationships are self-serving.  People are only in it if they can get something out of it.  They will stick around as long as times are good and they stand to gain.  But as soon as the “gravy train” stops, they are getting off.  Other relationships stand the test of time and circumstances.  Loyalty is the hallmark of true friendship.  A true friend is there through all of the seasons of life.  In fact, some of the best friendships are formed during times of adversity.  

There is no limit to what a true friend will do for you.  The greatest demonstrations of this is what Jesus said and ultimately did.  “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends,” John 15:13 KJV.  The Apostle Paul expands upon this theme as he compares human friendships with God’s friendship, agreeing that some would dare to die for a good person but Jesus went beyond normal expectations when he made the decision to die for us while we were in open rebellion with him, Romans 5:6-8.
By SMH Webmaster on 1/30/2017 9:34 AM
“…and he was called the Friend of God.” James 2:23 KJV

The following lyrics were written by Israel Houghton.  In this song, he expresses wonder and amazement as he contemplates the idea that God could possibly want to be our friend.

“Who am I that you are mindful of me
That you hear me, when I call
Is it true that you are thinking of me
How you love me, it's amazing.” 

There are many examples in the Bible indicating that God desires a close relationship with us.  The first is recorded in the second chapter of Genesis where God is described as walking in the Garden of Eden in the cool of the day looking for Adam and Eve who knew him so well that they recognized the sound of him coming.  Another, also recorded in Genesis, is the relationship that God had with Enoch where the two enjoyed each other’s company so much that one day, on one of their long walks, Enoch walked straight into heaven and never came back to earth (Genesis 5:24 and Hebrews 11:5).  
By SMH Webmaster on 1/23/2017 9:21 AM

“When He had come down from the mountain, great multitudes followed Him. 2 And behold, a leper came and worshiped Him, saying, “Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean.” Mathew 8:1-2 NKJV

This encounter with the leper began with Jesus coming down from the mountain.  Throughout the Gospels, there are many references to Jesus retreating to a solitary place to pray.  Sometimes that place was a garden, or somewhere undisclosed, in this case it was a mountain.  Jesus found it necessary to spend periods of time in prayer and in the presence of the Father so that he might be revitalized for ministry. 

By SMH Webmaster on 1/16/2017 8:49 AM
“In the middle of the night I arise to thank you for your just regulations.” 119:62 NET

Psalm 119 at 176 verses, is the longest chapter in the Bible.  It is unclear who wrote it, but many scholars seem to agree that it was written by a number of different people over a long period of time and is therefore a compilation of the thoughts and inspiration of several devotees, including David.  The subject matter of the Psalm is God’s Word and the Psalm uses a number of descriptors for it, such as: law, statutes, word, ordinances, precepts, judgements, commandments and testimonies.

In the verse under consideration, the writer expresses his excitement about the Word of God by talking about worship at midnight.  Here it is noted that he rises at midnight.  Attention should be given to his posture, he didn’t just lie in the bed and meditate, he got up to give thanks.  This action suggests to me that writer in this section might have been David because the content is reminiscent of several of his Psalms that talk about meditating on God’s Word day and night.  
By SMH Webmaster on 1/9/2017 1:42 PM
“Paul, a bondservant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated to the gospel of God.” Romans 1:1 NKJV

This time of the year, for many people, is a time of evaluation.  We look back over the past twelve months and ask ourselves, “How did I do?”  We evaluate ourselves against plans that we had made or goals we had set.  We take a look at our health, our finances our relationships and our spiritual lives. For some it is a time to celebrate achievements and set new goals.  For others it is a time to accept failures and setbacks and start again, so we make new plans and promises to ourselves and begin the year with a new determination.

One of the questions that we sometimes ask ourselves is the purpose question.  Why am I here?  Is there something more that I should be doing with my life?  Does God have a plan for my life?  These questions can become even more significant as we approach midlife, when we not only review the past twelve months but the past twenty or thirty years and sometimes we can be unfairly critical of ourselves.
By SMH Webmaster on 12/19/2016 10:49 AM
“…The LORD doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7b

We all have preconceived ideas of how things should be.  Beauty is perceived differently by cultural or societal standards. Brilliance is usually expected of someone who has been educated in the most prestigious learning environments.  The quality of strength is often attributed to the one who can lift the most weight or has the biggest muscles.  But the Bible teaches that what is inside a person determines who they are.

When Samuel was tasked to find the second king of Israel, he was led to the family of Jesse, a farming family that lived in Bethlehem.  Jesse had eight sons and as each of the first seven were introduced to Samuel he was impressed by some aspect of their physical appearance but God was not impressed.  Finally, David, the youngest, was called in from the fields.  He was red faced, dirty, scrawny and smelled like the sheep he’d been tending and the Lord told Samuel, this is the one.
By SMH Webmaster on 12/12/2016 2:49 PM
“Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife, who was with child”, Luke 2:4-5 NKJV

According to AAA Travel, more than fifty-five million people will employ a variety of transport modes to head home to be with family this holiday season.  They will travel to grandma’s house, to the hometown where they grew up or to somewhere new to be with new family members as the family circle expands.  The combined miles of these travelers will number in the millions.
By SMH Webmaster on 12/5/2016 9:15 AM
“And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.”  Luke 2:10 

The first people to hear the news of the birth of Jesus was a group of shepherds who were spending the night in the Judean hills watching their sheep. In the early days of the nation of Israel shepherding was the primary occupation for most families but as the nation matured so did the variety of occupations in which people became engaged.  They became farmers, merchants, manufacturers of textiles and household items, etc.  Over time, the work of shepherding fell into disfavor and became the chore of the youngest son or the job of a servant or a slave.  It was not long before they developed a reputation for dishonesty, laziness and irresponsibility, add to that the fact that they smelled like sheep and you realize very quickly that they were not the kind of company people liked to keep.  Despite this, shepherds were an essential part of the Jewish economy as animals were always needed for sacrifices in the temple services. 
By SMH Webmaster on 11/30/2016 11:24 AM
“Come, see a man, who told me everything I ever did: is not this the Christ,” John 4:29 NKJV

Some people disconnect themselves from their community because they’re made to feel unworthy.  This sense of unworthiness can stem from a lack of education, a feeling of inferiority, some may feel limited because of cultural or gender biases (real or imagined). There are still others who feel disqualified because of fear or embarrassment and still others who feel that their reputation might cause their contribution to lack credibility.  The main character in the narrative referenced above might be numbered among those who self-disconnect.
By SMH Webmaster on 11/21/2016 11:12 AM
Has no one returned to give glory to God except this foreigner?”  Luke 17:18 NLT

As Jesus was about to enter a village on the border between Samaria and Galilee, his attention was arrested by the cries of ten lepers pleading with him to have mercy on them.  Jesus, moved with compassion for them, told them to go show themselves to the Priest and on their way they found themselves cured of their disease.  One of them, a Samaritan, turned around and went back to give glory to God and thanks to the one through whom his healing came.

Jesus had given them their lives back.  The Priest would declare them clean. They could now rejoin their community and be reconnected with families.  They were no longer outcasts living on the edge of town eking out a miserable existence while waiting for the comfort of death.  No longer would they have the spiritual angst of wondering, for what sin were they being punished.  No longer would they have to deal with the soul destroying announcement, “unclean”, that they would have to make in order to warn people to keep away.
By SMH Webmaster on 11/7/2016 10:15 PM
“A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver.” Proverbs 25:11 

Do you know Frank? A lot of people seem to know him.  Apparently, he’s quite influential, many people emulate him.  Some people even want to be him.  They start sentences with phrases like, “Let me be Frank,” or “Speaking Frankly,” and then they proceed to say something, inappropriate, unkind or downright rude.  According to the freedictionary.com, being frank is defined as, revealing or disposed to reveal one's thoughts freely and honestly.  Frank implies directness, sometimes that freedom is abused to the point of bluntness.  Isaac Newton said, “Tact is the art of making a point without making an enemy.”  

Judy Nelson, a career and executive coach, uses the Workplace Big 5 Profile 4.0 to assess her clients “Tact-o-meter” score, 0-25 is tactless, 75-100 is very tactful and 40-55 is a sort of middle ground.  She says, “A TACT-o-meter is a gauge for your mouth. It serves a significant role for your team’s morale maintenance. It helps the speaker select appropriate words for working conditions. It denotes the maximum safe range for lack of tact, which when exceeded leaves the speaker’s recipient red with embarrassment (or rage). When a speaker regularly operates in the red zone, I call it redlining the team. Prolonged extreme tactlessness or extreme tact may cause less than optimum communication and conflict that could cause excessive wear or permanent damage to relationships.”
By SMH Webmaster on 10/31/2016 11:57 AM
“There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love.  We love Him because He first loved us,” 1 John 4:18-19 NKJV.

Halloween has become a huge annual event.  According to a September 22, 2016, USA Today report, “The new poll from the National Retail Federation projects that Halloween revelers will spend $8.4 billion preparing for and celebrating the fall holiday. That breaks down to an average of $82.93 per shopper, vs. the $74.34 spent last Halloween.”  Between 1995 and 2016 horror movies grossed $8,934,057,867 at the box office, www.thenumbers.com.  “Nationwide, more than 300 amusement parks operate Halloween attractions, generating at least $500 million in revenue annually, according to Hauntworld, a website based in St. Louis that promotes businesses with "haunted" or Halloween themes.”  
By SMH Webmaster on 10/18/2016 4:33 PM
“For the kingdom of heaven is like a man traveling to a far country, who called his own servants and delivered his goods to them.  And to one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one, to each according to his own ability; and immediately he went on a journey.”  Matthew 25:14-15

Patricia Bays Haroski celebrated the first Boss’s Day on October 16, 1958 in honor of her father.  It was his birthday and she also worked for him and wanted to let him know what a great boss he was.  She registered the day with the United States Chamber of Commerce and it has been celebrated since then.  On this day employees recognize their bosses by giving cards, lunches and other gifts.
By SMH Webmaster on 10/10/2016 8:47 AM
“And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:13

Christopher Columbus made four trans-Atlantic crossings from Spain in the years 1492, 1493, 1498 and 1502.  He was determined to find a direct route to Asia by going west but he never did.  We celebrate Columbus Day in the US, Spain and Italy because in his quest to find that route, he stumbled upon the Americas.  He was not the first to set foot on what was then known as the new world but his discovery opened the way for Europeans to settle this new found land.
By SMH Webmaster on 10/4/2016 11:04 AM
“Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.”  Matthew 1:22-23 NKJV

The Hebrew name Immanuel is mentioned twice in the writings of the Prophet Isaiah and again in the announcement of the birth of Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew, referenced above.  It means, God with us.  There is much debate as to what the references in Isaiah might mean but Matthew is clear that it means that God did something very special in sending Jesus into the world.  John, another Gospel writer says, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”  John 3:16 NKJV
By SMH Webmaster on 9/26/2016 2:07 PM
“In as much as you have done it unto the least of these, you have done it unto me.” Matthew 25:40

As our boat speeds along the Amazon River, I am somewhat melancholic.  We are going home after spending a week providing surgical and medical care to almost 1700 patients.  They came to us from the villages along the Amazon River and from in and around the cities of Iquitos and Pucallpa in Peru.  It was a privilege to be here and to provide some help and relief to those who do not have access to healthcare, mostly because they simply cannot afford it.  But as we head home, I wrestle with the thought that there is still so much to do. 
By SMH Webmaster on 9/19/2016 8:24 AM
“When Zechariah saw him, he was startled and was gripped with fear.”  Luke 1:12

Dictionary.com defines fear as: “a distressing emotion aroused by impending danger, evil, pain, etc., whether the threat is real or imagined.”  The Greek word in the Bible verse above, phobus, from which we get our English, phobia, is derived from a root word which means, to be put in fear, suggesting that Zechariah was made fearful by something external.  
By SMH Webmaster on 9/12/2016 11:02 AM
“Remember the wonders he has done, his miracles, and the judgments he pronounced,” 1 Chronicles 16:12 NIV

This Psalm (or song) of David encourages us to remember some specific things about our relationship with God.  The word remember, occurs 166 times in the New International Version of the Bible and many of those instances instruct us to be intentional about remembering.  E. G. White counsels, “We have nothing to fear for the future except we should forget how God has led us in the past.”  People tend to forget as time passes unless they are deliberate about remembering.  This counsel, like David’s call to remember, not only encourages us to recall past events but to also and even more importantly, to recall the presence and power of a miracle working God during those events. 

By SMH Webmaster on 9/6/2016 10:20 AM
“But the angel said unto him, Fear not, Zacharias: for thy prayer is heard; and thy wife Elisabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John.” Luke 1:13 KJV 

Have you ever felt forgotten or overlooked?  I imagine that this elderly couple experienced these feeling, among many others.  It hadn’t always been this way.  They were young and hopeful once.  They were newlyweds with hopes of making a home together and starting a family.  They were optimistic about seeing the promises of the prophets fulfilled in their lifetime, like the promise of Jeremiah about prosperity and hope and a future and the promise of the coming Messiah.  They had prayed and believed for these things.  But they were old now and there were no children and Messiah had not come.
By SMH Webmaster on 8/29/2016 9:11 PM
“This is the day the Lord has made; We will rejoice and be glad in it.” Psalm 118:24 NKJV When I looked at the calendar hanging on my kitchen wall, I noticed that today was not designated any special significance.  It was just another Monday.  Wanting to be sure I wasn’t missing anything important, I referred to my friends at Google.  Today has been set aside for a couple of important awareness foci, such as, National Sarcoidosis Day and International Day Against Nuclear Tests.  In addition, there are some trivial observances such as, Lemon Juice Day, National Swiss Winegrowers Day and Motorist Consideration Monday (this one should be an everyday observance).  I’m sure that today is someone’s birthday or anniversary, but no national holidays. Mondays are not popular days.  It’s the end of the weekend.  It’s the start of the work week.  Songs have been written about Monday.  In 1966, The Mamas & the Pappas sang, “Every other day of the week is fine, but whenever Monday comes you’ll find me crying all of the...
By SMH Webmaster on 8/22/2016 11:48 AM
“And when she opened it, she saw the child, and behold, the baby wept. So she had compassion on him, and said, “This is one of the Hebrews' children.” Exodus 2:6 NKJV The story of Moses begins with an act of compassion from one least expected to be compassionate. Pharaoh had ordered the slaughter of every male infant in Egypt and when Moses’ mother could no longer hide him, she entrusted him into God’s care through, what might appear to some, a reckless, desperate act.  She set him adrift in a basket on the Nile River. It happened that the daughter of the Pharaoh came upon the basket while she was bathing in the river and reacted to the child’s cry with an act of compassion that would change the course of history.  While her father’s fear of the numerical strength of the enslaved Hebrews led him to resort to infanticide as a population management initiative, her compassion for one of those helpless innocents led her to save him from certain death on the river.  While the hardness of his heart led him to murder, the softness of her heart led her to show mercy....
By SMH Webmaster on 8/16/2016 1:48 PM
“Look!” he answered, “I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire; and they are not hurt, and the form of the fourth is like the son of God,” Daniel 3:25 NKJV. It is one of the most well-known and frequently told Bible stories.  It ranks right up there with David and Goliath and is found in the third chapter of Daniel.  It’s the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, sometimes called, “the three Hebrew boys.”  The nation of Judah had been conquered by the Babylonians and among the first wave of those taken captive were these three young men.  God had shown them favor and they had been privileged to work in the service of the king of Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar.  A typical practice of that time and culture was that the religion of the king was the religion of the people and in some cases, it was enforced under penalty of death.  This king decided he would test the loyalty of his people by demanding that all subjects pay homage to a ninety-foot-tall golden image.  Anyone who failed to do so would...
By SMH Webmaster on 8/8/2016 9:13 AM
“When Jesus heard of it he departed thence by ship into a desert place apart: and when the people heard thereof, they followed him on foot out of the cities,” Matthew 14:13 KJV. Herod, the Roman governor of Judea, had earlier arrested John the Baptist in an attempt to silence his criticism of him.  It would seem that Herod just wanted get him off the streets and out of the way for a while, but through the duplicity of his wife and step daughter and while under the influence of alcohol, he had been manipulated into putting John to death, a decision that caused him much emotional turmoil.  Guilt and fear can do strange things to the mind.  Paranoia has a way of distorting the facts and in Herod’s case, when he heard of the miracles and teachings of Jesus, he imagined that John the Baptist had returned from the dead and he became fearful of what consequences he might have to face.  When word of Herod’s mental state reached Jesus, he decided to take some time to think and pray so he departed by boat to a remote...
By SMH Webmaster on 8/5/2016 11:37 AM
“Let thine ear now be attentive, and thine eyes open, that thou mayest hear the prayer of thy servant, which I pray before thee now, day and night, for the children of Israel thy servants, and confess the sins of the children of Israel, which we have sinned against thee: both I and my father's house have sinned.” Nehemiah 1:6 KJV Nehemiah was among the Jews who had remained in Persia after many of his kinsmen had returned to Jerusalem when the Babylonian captivity had ended.  He was now in service to the King of Persia as his cupbearer.  In this role, not only was he constantly in the presence of the king, but it was his responsibility to taste the king’s food and drink to ensure that it was not poisoned.  Nehemiah put his life on the line every single day to preserve the life of the king.  At first I thought this was a position of forced servitude but further reading suggests that Nehemiah counted this position an honor. When Nehemiah learned of the living conditions of his people in Jerusalem, his ancestral...
By SMH Webmaster on 7/25/2016 7:54 AM
“What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee.” Psalm 56:3 KJV   King David is credited with the writing of this Psalm while he was being held prisoner by the Philistines.  It was a situation that caused him to be fearful, after all, David had killed Goliath, their champion and routed the Philistine army many years earlier and this looked a lot like an opportunity to avenge their champion and restore Philistine pride.  The Hebrew word translated afraid in this verse is rendered, fear 188 times, afraid 78 times and terrible or terrible thing 29 times in the King James Version of the Bible.  David was not just a little nervous here.  He was afraid for his life.   Fear was not a new emotion for David.  He knew it as a shepherd when he single-handedly fought lions and bears to protect the flock.  He knew it as a youth when he faced the giant, Goliath on the battle field and he knew it when he was hunted by a jealous and enraged King Saul.  The lessons for us in this passage is twofold.  Firstly, fear is not a unique...
By SMH Webmaster on 7/18/2016 7:48 AM
 “…seek peace pursue it.” Psalm 34:14b “If I could just get some peace…!”  It’s the harried cry of a busy mother with no time for herself.  It’s the stressed out response of the busy professional starting the next big project with all of the other demands still snapping at his heels.  It’s the cry of the chronically ill patient who can see no end to their suffering.  It’s the desperate plea of the financially overextended as they look at the ringing telephone knowing instinctively that it’s another harassing call from a debt collector and it’s in the nocturnal tears of someone in a volatile and complex relationship. One of my favorite Psalms is Psalm 34.  I love the way that it shows God present, interested and active in the lives of hurting people.  Verse twelve poses the question; who wants a good long life?  The answer that follows includes some restrictive imperatives.  Don’t speak evil, don’t tell lies and don’t do evil things to people but the second part of verse fourteen says what we must do to have...
By SMH Webmaster on 7/5/2016 10:59 AM
"You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven." Mathew 5:14-16 NKJV   Jesus makes a bold statement declaring that his followers are the light of the world.  It is also a great compliment because it associates his followers with him.  He declared himself to be the light of the world, promising if any believed in him they would not walk in darkness.  The verse above states that those who are the light of the world have a responsibility to illuminate the world around them. T.D. Jakes states in one of his sermons that light is disruptive, it disrupts darkness.  Darkness can no longer be the same when light is present.  The light that lit the house in Jesus day was a simple oil lamp that produced about as much light as a candle.  When lit, it was placed on a lampstand that allowed more light to fill the room....
By SMH Webmaster on 6/29/2016 9:26 AM
“My voice shalt thou hear in the morning, O Lord; in the morning will I direct my prayer unto thee, and will look up.” Psalm 5:3 KJV Nature begins each day with worship.  The sun gradually climbs up from below the horizon, its light gently breaking upon the earth.  With every passing second, its brightness increases, coloring the sky with a thousand different hues.  Brighter and brighter it grows, as if directed by a celestial conductor, directing it into a magnificent crescendo until it burns in its fullness, emitting heat and light, declaring, as the Psalmist says in 19:1, “the Glory of God.” The birds begin their morning with a song, quietly at first, then one by one as they awake, each adds its own part to the morning composition, which brand new, makes its debut performance each and every day.  The sound of their chorus clings to the air and is carried on the wind, a morning worship song to their creator. The Psalmist joins in the song of nature by raising his voice in the morning so that his morning...
By SMH Webmaster on 6/20/2016 3:26 PM
 “And God saw everything that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day.” Genesis 1:31   In 1979, Bo Derek and Dudley Moore co-starred in the romantic comedy, “10”.  A story about composer-playwright in mid-life, pursuing the most beautiful woman he’d ever seen, described as an eleven on a scale of ten. Ten is the sought after, perfect score pursued by “Dancing with the Stars” contestants.  Cosmetic companies market products that promise but never deliver, perfect skin.  Imperfect parents want perfect kids with perfect teeth and perfect GPA’s.  What is it about human beings and our quest for perfection?  Is perfection the standard?   The Bible says that God took six days to create the earth and at the end of day’s one through five, as he reviewed the day’s work he declared it, “good.”  On the last day of creation as God reviewed all that he had made, including living creatures and human beings, the Bible says it was, “very good”.  The earth was fresh from...
By SMH Webmaster on 6/13/2016 3:25 PM
“But we had to celebrate and rejoice because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.” Luke 15:32   Jesus told three stories for this parable.  The first is a story about a lost sheep, the second about a lost coin and the third about a lost son.  The stories are tied together by two common threads; we demonstrate the value of that which is lost by the lengths to which we will go to recover it.  The second thread is that we demonstrate the value of what was lost by the enthusiasm with which we celebrate its restoration.   The shepherd left his ninety-nine other sheep safely in the fold and went in search of the one lost sheep.  The woman turned on the lights and swept the whole house, moving everything until she found the lost coin.  The boy’s father constantly looked for his son, hoping every day, that he would come home again.   How did the sheep, coin and boy get lost?  One of the characteristics of sheep is that they are prone to wander off.  Sometimes it is because...
By SMH Webmaster on 6/6/2016 10:44 AM
“And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them.” Acts 16:25   Life can often seem unfair.  When for example, you have practiced a healthy lifestyle, you’ve never smoked, you’ve exercised regularly, managed your diet well, the only time you ever drank alcohol, was a sip of champagne at a wedding and now, at sixty years old, you’ve developed colon cancer.  Life can seem unfair when your promising high school student is about to graduate at the top of her class with offers of full scholarships from three universities, but she is found dead under suspicious circumstances.   At times like these, when things go badly or seem terribly unfair when you know you have done the right thing.  When you think God should have taken better care of you because, you’ve been good, and it seems like he doesn’t, what do you do?    If you are anything like me, the temptation is to complain to God and ask, ”Why me?” or “Why this?”   The account of Paul and Silas imprisoned for preaching the Gospel seems like one of those times.  They have both sacrificed, left their families at home and experienced hardships and ridicule.  They have been beaten, mocked and stoned, all because they have chosen to follow Jesus.  Now, as if to add insult to injury, they are arrested and imprisoned and are awaiting possible execution.  What do we find them doing?  Singing and praising God, loudly enough for the entire prison to hear them.  What is really significant is that they do not appear to be worshiping in the hope that they will be released, they are worshiping just because they love God....
By SMH Webmaster on 5/31/2016 11:14 AM
“He also spoke this parable: A certain man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard, and he came seeking fruit on it and found none.” Luke 13:6 (NKJV) Parables are stories or illustrations from which the hearer can extract meaning and direction that have the power to transform destiny. When Jesus used a parable, and he did so quite often, he did not always explain its meaning. Instead, he often left it to his hearers to figure out what it meant for them. The fig tree in this parable grew in a protected environment, a vineyard.  Here it received the best of the gardener’s attention and resources. It had every advantage to grow and to do that for which it was created, produce figs. After having been the recipient of all this attention, this particular fig tree had failed to yield a crop for three consecutive years. It looked like it could produce fruit. Its foliage was green and lush. It had produced fragrant and abundant blossoms, the promise of fruit, but somehow the promise was never fulfilled. After having...
By SMH Webmaster on 5/23/2016 8:47 AM
“My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message,” John 17:21 NIV   The most famous prayer that Jesus prayed is known as the Lord’s Prayer, some refer to it as, the Our Father. It’s a prayer that most of us have prayed since we were children and for many, it provides a structure or framework for our prayers.  It begins with worship, then moves to submission of our will to his.  Then there are a series of requests, for our daily needs to be supplied, for his forgiveness and for the spirit of forgiveness to be in us, for victory over temptation and finally for deliverance from evil of ever kind. Then it closes with worship and adoration that acknowledges God’s dominion, power and glory.   There is another lesser known prayer yet interestingly, it the longest prayer that Jesus prayed. Recorded in John’s Gospel chapter seventeen, it is a special prayer for three reasons: who is praying, who is being prayed for and what is being requested. First of all who...
By SMH Webmaster on 5/16/2016 8:20 AM
Elijah, a mighty prophet of God, was called upon by God to deliver the bad news to Ahab, king of Israel, that there was going to be a three year drought because the people had turned away from God and were worshiping the gods of the surrounding nations.  God made provision for the prophet by sending him to live in a ravine east of the River Jordan where he would have water to drink from a brook and where the ravens, at God’s command, would bring him meat and bread daily.   After some time the brook dried up and God sent the prophet to a poor widow in Zarephath whom he was told would provide for him until the drought was over. When he met her she was in the midst of preparing a last meal for her and her son.  The story goes that the prophet asked her to make him a meal first and assured her if she did so, the little provision that she had would last until the drought was over.  She trusted him and somehow there was always enough for her to make one more meal for them every day until the drought ended.   It seems that God sometimes has strange ways of meeting his children’s needs.  He sent ravens to bring a daily supply of meat and bread to his prophet.  He allows a brook the only source of water to dry up, he sent the prophet to a poor woman who had so little she thought she and her son were going to die after they ate their last meal....
By SMH Webmaster on 5/9/2016 3:46 PM
“I asked the LORD to give me this boy, and he has granted my request.  Now I am giving him to the LORD, and he will belong to the LORD his whole life.” 1 Samuel 1:27-27   Hannah was childless and in ancient Israel, as it is still is in some parts of the world, she was looked upon as a woman cursed or at the very least, overlooked by God.  This situation was compounded by the fact that she was the wife Elkanah, a man who had two wives and his other wife had already borne children, the Bible does not say how many.  Hannah dealt with the constant taunts and put-downs of her rival and this only increased her desire to have a child and deepened her sorrow that God did not seem to be hearing her prayers.   On the occasion of one of the annual feasts, the family went up to Jerusalem to present a sacrifice and worship.  Hannah went to the Temple to pray.  Her deep sorrow was misinterpreted by the High Priest as drunkenness and as she was being rebuked by him she was able to pour out her pain and he heard her. He prophesied...
By SMH Webmaster on 5/2/2016 11:43 AM
"Then your light will appear like the dawn, and your recovery will come quickly. Your righteousness will go before you, and the LORD’s glory will be your rear guard," Isaiah 58:8 KJV. This Thursday, May 5th, 2016, by Presidential proclamation, will mark the 65th National Day of Prayer.  People of faith from every religious worldview across this great country will be invited to join together to pray for the nation.  I don't think that anyone would disagree that the nation is in need of prayer. And while I do not fault the President for observing this long held tradition, I have to ask the question, is it enough? In the 58th chapter of the book of Isaiah, the prophet addresses the Nation of Israel on the subject of prayer and fasting. There was great concern that they were praying and fasting yet it seems that their prayers were unanswered, and their fasting was unnoticed by God. They had the religious formulas correct, denying themselves food, dusting themselves with ashes and covering themselves with sackcloth...
By SMH Webmaster on 4/25/2016 3:54 PM
“Again he asked, “What shall I compare the kingdom of God to?  It is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into about sixty pounds of flour until it worked all through the dough.” Luke 13:20-21 NIV   Yeast is used in the Bible as a metaphor that describes the effect of sin in a person’s life.  During Passover, the Jews remove yeast from their homes as a symbolic removal of sin.  Both Jesus and the Apostle Paul make reference to yeast, calling it hypocrisy, malice and wickedness.  Yet in this verse in Luke, Jesus says the kingdom of God is like yeast.  He completely reverses the metaphor.   “Yeast is the driving force behind fermentation, the magical process that allows a dense mass of dough to become a well-risen loaf of bread. And yet yeast is nothing more than a single-celled fungus. How does it do it?    Yeast works by consuming sugar and excreting carbon dioxide and alcohol as byproducts. In bread making, yeast has three major roles. Most of us are familiar with yeast's leavening ability. But you may...
By SMH Webmaster on 4/18/2016 9:28 AM
After 430 years of slavery God sent Moses with a Message to the Pharaoh, “Let my people go”.  When he refused, a series of plagues were visited upon the Ancient Egyptians. The final plague was the death of all the first born of Egypt, from livestock the inmate in the king’s dungeon.  Moses told his the people that the only way to avoid this final plague was to smear the blood of an unblemished lamb on the lintel and door posts of their houses.  Any dwelling thus marked would be passed over.  The Hebrews marked their dwellings and were spared but death was in every Egyptian home, including Pharaoh.  He finally agreed to free them and the descendants of Abraham and according to the Exodus account, 600,000 men plus women and children marched, sang and danced their way out of Egypt that day.  The Passover Holiday has been celebrated by the Jewish people on the 15th to the 22nd day of Nissan (early spring) since 1313 BCE until today.  The celebration includes the lighting of candles, the removal of Chametz (essentially...
By SMH Webmaster on 4/11/2016 9:26 AM
“But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us.” 2 Corinthians 4:7 NKJV   In ancient times, clay vessels, such as jars, bowls and pots, were common and were used for a variety of household functions such as storing food, fetching water, cooking, eating and drinking.  They came in many shapes and sizes and were decorated in a variety of ways.  These types of vessels were also used to store sacred scrolls or valuable documents.  One of the most famous finds of ancient documents were the Dead Sea Scrolls found in tall clay jars with lids in the Qumran Caves.   The Apostle Paul used this metaphor of earthen vessels to convey the idea that God has chosen human beings, made from the dust of the ground, to contain the treasures of the Gospel.  The contrast is quite distinct.  The eternal nature of the Gospel versus, the temporary nature of clay pots.  The high value of the message of the Gospel versus the cheap stone jar.  The power of the Gospel versus...
By SMH Webmaster on 4/4/2016 9:06 AM
“But their eyes were kept from recognizing him.” Luke 24:16 ESV   Two very discouraged men were walking from Jerusalem to Emmaus, a distance of about eight miles.  At a brisk pace, it might have taken about two hours but their steps were labored because their hearts were heavy.  As they walked, they were deep in conversation about the events that had taken place in Jerusalem over the last three days, so much so, that they were not aware that it was getting late neither did they pay much attention to the identity of the stranger who joined them as they walked.   The stranger noticed their sad countenances and heard the disappointment and sense of loss that was the subject of their conversation.  He sensed the intense emotional pain that their tone of voice, body language and unhurried pace conveyed and as he joined the conversation, he asked what they were talking about.  His question stopped them in their tracks and with great sadness and surprise that he too was not sad, referenced the things that had happened...
By SMH Webmaster on 3/28/2016 9:25 AM
“But I am a worm, and no man;” Psalm 22:6 NKJV   Jesus is called by many names.  In Isaiah, he is referred to as Wonderful, Counselor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace and the Man of Sorrows.  In Songs of Solomon, he is the Rose of Sharon and the Lilly of the Valleys.  In the Gospels, he is the Messiah, the Christ, Son of Man, Son of God, Master and Rabbi.  The final book of the New Testament, Revelation, refers to him as King of kings and Lord of lords.  But not many know that one of the names ascribed to Jesus, is “worm”.  In Psalm 22:6, the Psalmist has the suffering one referring to himself as “a worm”.  Why?   The worm referenced in this passage describes, coccus ilicis, a scarlet worm found in the region of the world where Jesus lived.  The following is quoted from discovercreation.org:   Usually in the Bible, the Hebrew word for a...
By SMH Webmaster on 3/15/2016 9:48 AM
“Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.” Luke 15:7 ESV St Patrick’s Day is celebrated in many parts of the world by the Irish and the Irish at heart.  What started out as a Feast Day in honor of Maewyn Succat, who was eventually canonized as St. Patrick, a man who dedicated his life to bringing the Gospel to the people of Ireland, is now mostly celebrated as a secular festival honoring Irish culture. The sources vary slightly in the details but it is generally held that this son of a wealthy Scottish family was kidnapped by Celtic raiders, taken to Ireland and enslaved.  After some years, he escaped and returned home.  In a dream, he perceived a call of God to return to Ireland so he initiated a plan that would result in him becoming a Bishop in the Catholic Church.  He then returned to Ireland as a missionary and is said to be responsible for bringing 135,000 people to faith, establishing 300 churches...
By SMH Webmaster on 3/7/2016 3:15 PM
“And when the king came in to see the guests, he saw there a man which had not a wedding garment: And he saith unto him, Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment? And he was speechless.” Matthew 22:11-12 KJV Jesus told a parable about the kingdom of heaven in which he likened it to a wedding reception which was hosted by a king. The initial guest list included all of the dignitaries, people of high rank and others of like importance. But when the feast was ready and the king sent out his servants to call the invitees to the feast they refused to come, some of them abuse or even killed the messengers who were sent to call them. Furious, the king sent his armies and destroyed those people and their cities. Not wanting to let the let the banquet go to waste, the king sent out more servants with the instructions to invite anyone they could find, regardless of status, or zip code. So the servants did just that and the banquet hall was full of guests. When the feast was in full swing, the...
By SMH Webmaster on 2/29/2016 11:22 AM
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”  Romans 15:13NIV   Flying this weekend was a little more stressful than usual.  I was scheduled to leave Kansas City on Wednesday afternoon but my flight was canceled and there was nothing else leaving for Orlando, FL until the next day.  On my return trip, I was a little nervous because my trip was routed through Atlanta and my connecting flight was the last flight of the day to Kansas City.  Well, you guessed it, my flight out of Orlando was delayed, leaving me with a twenty-minute window to make my connection.  Needless to say, I was concerned about missing that flight and having to spend the night in Atlanta.     When I arrived at the Orlando airport my first question to the Southwest representative at the gate was whether I would make my connection or not.  She assured me that everyone connecting in Atlanta would make their flights.  I was not convinced.  As I sat nervously at the gate awaiting my delayed flight, an announcement was made assuring travelers with connection out of Atlanta that they would not miss their flights.  I felt a little better when I saw the delayed plane arrive at the gate, earlier than anticipated.  We were told that they would try to make this a quick turnaround and leave as soon as they could.  After about another ten or fifteen minutes a young man in the Southwest uniform stood at the gate and assured us once again that there would be no missed connections in Atlanta.  He was quite emphatic and by this time I was feeling more hopeful....
By SMH Webmaster on 2/22/2016 11:03 AM
“Why are ye so fearful?”  Mark 4:40 KJV The causes of fear in our lives take on many forms. Sometimes we are fearful of losing a job or not getting a promotion. There are times we are fearful of what others might think of us. We are sometimes fearful of losing relationships. Fear of failure is a familiar companion for others and strange as it may sound fear of success is an issue for some. In the hospital setting, fear is never far.  Our patients struggle with fear of the unknown, fear of the strangeness of the environment, fear of what might happen to them, fear of debt, fear of losing their ability to work, the fear of losing a loved one and ultimately the fear of dying.  Think of a time when you were afraid. I mean really afraid. What kind of fear was it? I am not asking about the sources of the fear as mentioned above; I’m asking about the quality of the fear. The Bible passage referenced above is part of a story describing a storm and a miracle at sea that were both causes for great fear. What is interesting,...
By SMH Webmaster on 2/16/2016 10:03 AM
“Love your neighbor as yourself.” Matthew 22:39   In the 1960’s New Zealand cartoonist, Kim Grove, began writing love notes for her future husband Roberto Casali.  The cartoons featured an adorable couple and a brief statement about what love looked like when practices.  The cartoons were originally published in booklets in the late 1960’s and later in the 1970’s became a popular daily cartoon strip in newspapers around the world.  I imagine that everyone has his or her favorite.  One of things that most of the cartoons appear to have in common is that they portray love as being active.  For example:  “Love is…two hearts traveling the same path.”  “Love is… picking up the pieces and starting again.” Or “Love is…knowing when to say you’re sorry.”  Love is a noun demonstrated by intentional action.  In other works love is a choice.   Two thousand years before Kim Casali, would pick up a pen to draw her adorable married couple. The Apostle Paul wrote: “Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful...
By SMH Webmaster on 2/8/2016 10:12 AM
“There was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. This man came to Jesus by night…” John 3:1-2 NKJV   Nicodemus was an important man. He was a “ruler of the Jews”, a member of the Sanhedrin, we might equate him with being a member of the Supreme Court. He had wealth, status, power and pedigree. On the outside it looked like he had it all together, the kind of life that someone else might wish they had. But something was missing.    The text says that he came to Jesus at night. Jesus was a popular teacher but he was not popular among the ruling class of the Jews so it would not have been politically astute for Nicodemus to be seen with Jesus. Therefore, in order to preserve his image, he had a secret meeting with Jesus. Coming to Jesus at night might also have a spiritual implication. Night could be a metaphor for his emotional or spiritual condition.  Nicodemus did not come to Jesus to secure votes to maintain his position. He came because word of Jesus life transforming work had reached...
By SMH Webmaster on 2/1/2016 9:55 AM
“…But Jesus stooped down and wrote on the ground with His finger, as though He did not hear.”  John 8:6b NKJV   This scripture is part of a narrative often referred to as, “The Woman Caught in Adultery”, John 8:1-11.  Religious leaders brought a woman caught in the act and challenged Jesus as to what should be done with her.  The Law of Moses required that she be stoned (the man also but they did not bring him, hmmmm?).  They did this to see if Jesus would uphold the Law and if he did not, they would be able to discredit his ministry.    Jesus’ first response to their challenge was to appear to ignore them while writing on the ground.  When they pressed him to take action he stood up and challenged them, “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her” (verse 7), he stooped down again and recommenced writing. The scripture says that each of her accusers walked away one at a time, from the oldest to the youngest.  When they were all gone, Jesus stood up and asked her where her accusers were, was anyone there to condemn her?  Looking up and seeing no one but Jesus she replied, “No man Lord”, then Jesus added “Neither do I condemn you.  Go and sin no more”, (verse 11)....
By SMH Webmaster on 1/25/2016 5:09 PM
“My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father--Jesus Christ, the Righteous One.”  1 John 2:1   It’s so nice to get wat you don’t deserve sometimes.  I registered to run the 2016 Miami Marathon/Half Marathon and began my training around May of 2015.  I was doing well, making my targets and feeling confident that I would be able to accomplish my goal.  My training was interrupted by a minor surgical procedure in mid-November and I too a short break from training so that I could heal.  The short break turned into a few weeks and I eventually started training again but I found that with the holidays and traveling to visit family I was not training as hard or as regularly as I should have.  When the holidays were over I hit the gym hard and tried to make up for lost time.    Sounds like a bunch of excuses, doesn’t it.  Apart from the surgery and the need for a short recovery time, all of the rest were just excuses.  Life is like that....
By SMH Webmaster on 1/18/2016 4:45 PM
“And he sat down, and called the twelve, and saith unto them, If any man desire to be first, the same shall be last of all, and servant of all.”  Mark 9:35 KJV   I really don’t like this question because it places too much emphasis on being defined by a profession but since it serves my purpose for this reflection I’ll use it.  What do you want to be when you grow up? It’s a question that many a child is asked by an adult wishing to get acquainted with them.  In answer, most children will tell you of a profession that inspires them such as a fireman or a teacher, some might even say they want to be president.  Rarely, if ever, will you hear the response, “I want to be a servant.”  Yet Jesus teaches that if you want to be the greatest, you must be a servant to all.   The Greek word used in this passage is “διάκονος” (diakonos), which literally means to do menial work, or to wait tables or to follow the orders of a master.  The context suggests that in order to be great one must desire to be, one must choose...
By SMH Webmaster on 1/11/2016 10:30 AM
“Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest a while: for there were many coming and going, and they had no leisure so much as to eat.”  Matthew 6:31 KJV We are busy people with busy lives that include work, school, children and a variety of social activities.  We all are under pressure to produce more with the same or less resources.  We have to work smarter, be more creative, and stay ahead of the competition.  No wonder, according to a Huffington Post report in April 2014, more than 76% of workers surveyed reported feeling tired at work.  So how do you feel after ten days of 2016?  Are you already wondering if you can sustain the pace of life?  In order for the human body to perform optimally it is critical for us to get regular rest.   The first thing that comes to mind when I think of rest is a good night’s sleep.   But there are those who believe that sleep is a waste of time and pride themselves on getting four hours or less sleep each night.  A phrase that has been attributed to the late...
By SMH Webmaster on 1/4/2016 11:39 AM
“…Behold, I make all things new…” Revelation 21:5   If you’re like me, you enjoy new things.  Most of us gave or received something new for Christmas.  Recall the delight on the faces of the children or adolescent who received a new bicycle, tablet, smart-phone or computer game.  Not only did it delight the receiver but the giver certainly received a lot of satisfaction.  New clothes, even if you buy them for yourself, come with a feel good sensation.  It’s even better if the new dress or jeans are a size or two smaller than you used to wear.  The ladies know what I’m talking about.  What about that new car?  After you have haggled with the sales manager and you feel like you got the best deal and as you’re driving off the lot breathing in that new car smell, there it is, that smile of satisfaction.  Then there is the new home, it doesn’t even have to be the dream home or brand new.  There is a pride of ownership and the hope of raising a family within its walls that just makes you feel good.    New experiences...
By SMH Webmaster on 12/21/2015 9:33 AM
“Behold I stand at the door and knock: If any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him and sup with him and he with me.” Rev 3:20 KJV So it’s four days to Christmas. The excitement is building. Children are writing their letters to Santa, sitting on his knees is almost every mall and telling him what they would like for Christmas.  Every jewelry store is promoting a diamond this or that and the women in the commercials are acting like this gift will change the world.  The car dealers are telling about sales like, “The December to remember”. Can you hear the booming announcer guy voice?  The dream car is in the driveway with a big red bow on it.   Moms are running down to K-Mart to pick up the lay away they’ve been working on since September.  Lottery vendors are promoting tickets like everyone’s a winner.  And just in case you don’t have time to shop or you can’t get off work early enough, the stores are open ‘til 1:00am and Elvis is singing, “I’ll be home for Christmas”.  So what do you want for Christmas?...
By SMH Webmaster on 12/15/2015 9:41 AM
“This is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘In a little while I will once more shake the heavens and the earth, the sea and the dry land. I will shake all nations, and what is desired by all nations will come, and I will fill this house with glory,’ says the Lord Almighty.”  Haggai 2:6-7 NIV  “Yes! Got it!” I smiled to myself as I settled into the most coveted seat on a Southwest aircraft.  Exit row, window, no seat in front of me and legroom for days.  Passengers were still boarding and it looked like it was going to be a full flight.  That was when I notice him.  A tall, I mean basketball player tall, African American man, possibly in his fifties, my assumption was that he was a former athlete but maybe did not get beyond college level.  I watched him squeeze his frame into the aisle seat next to me.  He looked like a Shaquille O’Neal stuffed into a Toyota Yaris.  I couldn’t do it.  I couldn’t sit there for the next two hours with all the leg room I had but didn’t need, while he suffered in that cramped condition,...
By SMH Webmaster on 12/7/2015 8:51 AM
“Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” Luke 2:13-14 NIV. It was very early on Sunday morning and still dark but Mary was focused on completing an unfinished task.  She and a group of other women had hurriedly anointed the body of Jesus on Friday evening before placing him in the tomb.  They had kept the Sabbath but it had not been a restful experience for neither Mary, the other women nor the disciples who were hiding behind locked doors for fear of the leaders of the people.  All they could think about were the horrible things that had happened to Jesus since Thursday night. Now she was rushing back to the tomb to complete the anointing. When she arrived she found the tone rolled away and the body of Jesus was gone.  She ran back to the house where the followers of Jesus were hiding and share her dismay, “They have taken away the Lord out of the tomb, and we...
By SMH Webmaster on 12/2/2015 11:22 AM
“The LORD accepted Abel and his gift, 5 but he did not accept Cain and his gift.” Genesis 4:4b – 5a NLT   The Thanksgiving holiday marks the beginning of the Holiday season for most people.  Thanksgiving is a time when we say thanks, first to God and then to those with whom we have relationships or those to whom we feel we owe a debt of gratitude.  God does indeed deserve our thanks because without him we would have nothing.  He is the Creator who sends the rain and the sunshine.  It is he who designed the process by which seeds planted grow into plants and produce food.  He created the laws by which the universe operates.  The writer of the Acts of the Apostles declares that it is “by him that we live and move and have our being.” Acts 17:28 KJV.   So how do you give thanks to God?  There is an Old Testament story about two brothers recorded in the fourth chapter of Genesis.  Many of you know it as the story of Cain and Abel.  The story starts out with both brothers bringing a gift to God.  They each offered...
By SMH Webmaster on 11/23/2015 12:00 AM
“Always be joyful.  Never stop praying.  Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18   We live our life around seasons and events and because of these occasions we can often find it easy to be joyful, prayerful and thankful.  But what I have noticed about people is that unless there is an event, incident or occasion, we are less inclined to practice these spiritual disciplines.  The Apostle Paul’s instructions to us do not come with any conditional qualifiers, such as , be joyful when things are going well, pray when you need something or be thankful when you receive.  He instructs us instead to always express joy, always pray and always give thanks.  These are not just suggestions Paul tells us that this is God’s will for us.   This week we will celebrate one of these annual events, the Thanksgiving Holiday.  Traditionally it is an American holiday that allows us to take some time and reflect upon our lives, and express our gratitude....
By SMH Webmaster on 11/16/2015 9:07 AM
“…The LORD that delivered me out of the paw of the lion, and out of the paw of the bear, he will deliver me out of the hand of this Philistine. 1 Samuel 17:37   The Old Testament account of David and Goliath is perhaps one of the most well-known and well-loved stories in the Bible.  Over the years it has become a metaphor for facing life’s difficult challenges or overcoming insurmountable odds.   Phrases like “Facing your Giants” or “Giant Killers” abound in movie titles and sports references all pointing back to the day that David felled Goliath with a sling and a stone.  But that was not David’s first demonstration of courage.  To understand how David prepared for this encounter we have to go back to the sheep pasture.   David was the youngest of twelve brothers who lived with their father Jesse in Bethlehem.  Birth order would have naturally presented him with some survival challenges.  From very early in his life he would have had to learn to develop some self-assertiveness.  The family business was raising...
By SMH Webmaster on 11/9/2015 3:04 PM
“Then the fire of God fell, and consumed the burnt sacrifice, and the wood, and the stones, and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench.  And when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces: and they said, The LORD, he is the God, the LORD, he is the God.”  1 Kings 18:38 KJV   References to God revealing himself by fire are commonplace in scripture.  In the life of Moses alone I will reference three.  One of the most well-known of these occurred at his calling to be deliver of Israel from Egyptian slavery, when God reveled himself in the burning bush, Exodus 3:2.  Another instance, was when God gave the Law on Mt. Sinai, the top of the mountain was smoking “because the LORD descended upon it in fire”, Exodus 19:18.  In the third account, God revealed himself at the dedication of the wilderness Sanctuary in such a way that the priests could not enter to do their work, Exodus 40:34.  In the New Testament the Holy Spirit is revealed as “cloven tongues of fire” that rested upon the disciples...
By SMH Webmaster on 11/2/2015 8:56 AM
“How much longer will you waver, hobbling between two opinions?  If the LORD is God follow him!  But if Baal is God then follow him. ” 1 Kings 18:21 NLT   It had been three years since the Elijah prophesied that there would be no rain.  During that time King Ahab and Queen Jezebel continued to lead the nation in rebellion against God by advancing the worship of Baal as the true religion of Israel.  On this day Elijah called for a showdown on Mt Carmel to determine who was to be worshipped The LORD or Baal.  After the people were assembled, he shouted his challenge.  “How much longer will you waver, hobbling between two opinions?” Elijah knew where he stood.  The 450 priests of Baal knew where they stood, but the masses…well they were not so sure.  It had been about sixty years since Jeroboam the first king of the Ten Tribes of Israel began to lead the nation into idolatry.  Since his reign there had been seven more kings and with each new monarch, the moral condition of the nation declined further.  By now...
By SMH Webmaster on 10/26/2015 8:03 AM
"Then Elijah stood in front of them and said, “How much longer will you waver, hobbling between two opinions? If the LORD is God, follow him! But if Baal is God, then follow him!” But the people were completely silent.” 1 Kings 18:21 NLT Indecision induces paralysis.  Until a person makes a decision about which course of action should be taken it is as if they are stuck in limbo.  The Apostle James says, “…a double minded man is unstable in all his ways.”  Elijah issued the above challenge to the people of God to help break them out of their limbo.   It had been three and a half years since Elijah had prophesied that there would be no rain except by the word of God.  The drought was intended to teach King Ahab and his queen, Jezebel, that it was the living God and not Baal who should be worshipped.  This royal couple had led the people into a mixture of attempted service to both, thereby giving allegiance to neither.    Elijah stood alone representing God, before him stood 450 prophets of Baal and a multitude...
By SMH Webmaster on 10/19/2015 2:01 PM
"When Simon Peter realized what had happened, he fell to his knees before Jesus and said, ‘Oh Lord, please leave me – I’m too much of a sinner to be around you.’” Luke 5:8 NLT   It was late morning and Simon and his partners were tired and discouraged.  They had fished all night and caught nothing.  They were cleaning and repairing their fishing nets unaware that a huge crowd had gathered close to where they were working until Jesus asked if he could stand in one of their boats so that he could speak to the people who had gathered.  Graciously he agreed and pushed the boat out a little way from the shore.  Jesus taught the people and Simon listened while he worked.    What Jesus taught that morning is not recorded but it must have impressed Simon significantly because when Jesus had finished teaching, he told Simon to take the boat out to where the lake was deeper and cast the net, there was no argument, merely a statement of frustration about an unproductive night, even though they had worked hard.  Simon’s...
By SMH Webmaster on 10/12/2015 1:27 PM
“Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal comfort and a wonderful hope, 17 comfort you and strengthen you in every good thing you do and say.” 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17 NLT The word hope is used 109 times in the King James Version of the Bible and in nearly all cases it is part of a phrase that connects hope to God.  Some phrases talk about the absence of hope without God, like Job 8:13, which deals with the condition of those who forget God.   Psalm 31:24 tells the saints to have courage because they hope in the Lord.  Psalm 43:5 is a verse of self-encouragement saying, “hope thou in God for I shall yet praise him [who is] the health of my countenance, and my God.”   In the New Testament, the Apostle Paul tells us that we hope for things that we have not yet seen and learn patience in the process. Romans 8:24, 25. Hope is a fundamental human need.  Maslow’s Hierarchy lists safety and love and belonging as needs two and three, hope is akin to these...
By SMH Webmaster on 10/5/2015 10:58 AM
And she said, Truth, Lord; yet even the dogs eat of the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.  Matthew 15:27 KJV   The word dog, as a term of endearment, was popularized by its use in the “hip-hop” culture in the 1990’s and was generally used between African-American men.  Spelled “dawg”, the Urban Dictionary defines it as, slang for "my close acquaintance of an African-American ethnic background".  In Biblical times it was not a term of endearment.  It was an intentional insult used to describe any person not of Jewish heritage.  Jesus demonstrated, in an encounter with a woman who would typically fall into this category, that there should be no such distinction and that no one was to be excluded from the benefit of his Grace.    Jesus and his disciples had retreated to the coast of Tyre and Sidon hoping that here they would be able to get a break from the busy life of ministry.  While here a local woman sought Jesus out for help.  Evidently, word about the miracles of Jesus had reached that region...
By SMH Webmaster on 9/28/2015 12:00 AM
“The eternal God is your refuge and underneath are the everlasting arms…” Deuteronomy 33:27 NIV There’s a lot of construction going on around the campus, both inside and out.  Most of the projects are renovations that involve gutting old space, reconfiguring and building out redesigned spaces for alternative uses.  The most engineering heavy project involves building two new stories on top of the old emergency department.  I asked a worker who was pouring concrete to repair a footpath leading to a secure entrance to the west of the former emergency department, why they had dug it up in the first place and he gave me a five minute lecture on foundations, fascinating. He informed me that the original foundation was not strong enough to bear the weight of the additional two floors so they were having to reinforce the foundation.  He described a process in which (and this is my oversimplification of a very complex process so no calls or emails correcting me please) they drilled down next to the foundation to...
By SMH Webmaster on 9/21/2015 5:14 PM
Then he said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.” Luke 12:15 NIV   Who are you?  No, who are you really?  Tullian Tchividjian in his book “One Way Love”, says, “Performancism casts achievement not as something we do or don’t do but as something we are or aren’t.”  In this performance driven world we measure ourselves by where we went to school, how smart we are, what kind of work we do, how much money we make, what we drive, where we live, how we look and what people think of us.  These things, he says are not just reflective of what we do but they are reflective of who we are, “they are synonymous with our worth.”  The high level of anxiety that is associated with measuring up and the inability to cope with perceived failure correlates with the increasing frequency of insomnia, increased suicide rates among all ages and an inability to find satisfaction in life.   The Bible passage above is part of Jesus’ response to a request...
By SMH Webmaster on 9/14/2015 12:00 AM
This weekend America remembered. September 11, 2001, is a day that is indelibly inscribed in the hearts and minds of the people of this country because it was a day like no other. Terrorists launched a coordinated attack against America, targeting the Pentagon, the twin towers of the World Trade Center and Washington, DC, symbols of American freedom. On that day 2996 lives were lost and many more were injured physically and emotionally. This country has never been the same since. The “War on Terror” was launched, the “Patriot Act” was passed and security was heightened and continues to be so. Thousands of families were impacted by the pain of loss and change.  Stories of courage and heroism continue to be told of firefighters and law enforcement officers, of spouses and children who refused to allow this tragedy to destroy their lives, stories of children, now adults who live to honor the memory of a fallen parent.   This kind of event can be described as a turning point.  It is a point in time where our history...
By SMH Webmaster on 9/8/2015 8:48 AM
“In the beginning God created…” Genesis 1:1   As I was thinking about this Labor Day weekend, I mused at how interesting it is that we celebrate work with a holiday.  But the more I thought about it the more it made sense.  Rest is part of the work cycle.  In order to be our most effective at work, we need to be well rested.  Our first encounter with God in scripture is God at work.  His first work was the work of creation.  The Genesis account shows us how God created everything that we see and know and perhaps so much more that we have yet to discover.    Work begins with vision.  The second verse of Genesis 1 shows God thinking about what he was going to do.  He was envisioning his creation before it existed, “The earth was formless and empty, darkness covered the deep waters and the Spirit of God was hovering over the deep waters” (NLT).  Then God spoke, ‘turn on the lights.’  Vision must be spoken in order to communicate it, in order for the work to begin.  There was creative power in the word of God....
By SMH Webmaster on 9/2/2015 10:53 AM
“But Lord,” Moses protested, “the people cannot come up to Mount Sinai.  You already warned us.  You told me, ‘Mark off a boundary all around the mountain to set it apart as holy.’” Exodus 19:23 NLT   While driving around campus recently, I have noticed that another color has been added to the yellow and white lines that identify designated parking for staff, physicians, patients and guests.  We have a new blue line in the in the parking lots that designate associate zones and patient and guest zones.  Patients and guests get to park on the building side of the blue line and associates park on the other side, a little further away.   This protocol tells our patients and guests that we care about them and want to make parking a little more convenient for them.  As associates we get the benefit of a little exercise by having to walk a few extra steps each day.   Well, the whole thing started me thinking about boundaries.  They’re everywhere.  We have city, county and state lines that serve to separate jurisdictions....
By SMH Webmaster on 8/24/2015 10:07 AM
“Don’t worry about anything; instead pray about everything.  Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.  Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand.” Philippians 4:6-7a NLT   Recently I’ve been praying more than I usually do.  There just seems to be so many things going on in the world, in life, in ministry in and around Shawnee Mission Health.  It’s as if the burden to pray is heavy upon me.  The Bible teaches that prayer is more than just a religious discipline.  It has a purpose.  Charles Spurgeon expressed it like this, “…the goal of prayer is the ear of God.  Unless that is gained, the prayer has utterly failed.  The uttering of it may have kindled devotional feeling in our minds, the hearing of it may have comforted and strengthened the hearts of those with whom we have prayed but if the prayer has not gained the heart of God, it has failed in its essential purpose.”   So how do we gain the ear and heart of God when we pray?  The Bible has much to say...
By SMH Webmaster on 8/17/2015 12:00 AM
The Samech   “Thou art my hiding place and my shield: I hope in thy word.” Psalm 119:114 KJV   Psalm 119 is the longest Psalm in the Bible, 176 verses.  Is divided into twenty-two sections, each section named for one of the letters of the Hebrew alphabet.  It is an acrostic hymn that explores God’s law of love.  The following are just my personal reflections on one of the sections.   In the second verse of the fifteenth section, samech, the Psalmist represents God as a hiding place and a shield.  The significance of the letter that heads this section addresses the completeness of God.  The shape of the samech is circular.  Its end connects with its beginning and is representative of the eternal nature of a God who has neither beginning nor end.  The closed circle indicates that his love and his protection is complete and surrounds those who trust in him.     The Psalm is attributed to David and appears to be a collection of his thought and praises.  David was a man familiar with needing a place to hide....
By SMH Webmaster on 8/10/2015 12:00 AM
Where there is no vision, the people perish: Proverbs 29:18a KJV   For many years, I’ve been fascinated with the Mt. Rushmore National Memorial in Keystone, SD and this weekend I had the privilege of visiting it.  The four faces of the US presidents were partially shrouded by clouds for most of the morning but after the clouds lifted and the sun came out, the monument lived up to my expectations.  The sculpture represents the work of eight visionaries. Doane Robinson, a South Dakota historian envisioned a monument carved into the rocks that would be so large it would attract people from all over the world to the Black Hills, SD.  He enlisted the services of sculptor Gutzon Borglum who “looked at the knobby, cracked face of Mt. Rushmore…and saw a vision of four United States presidents carved into the mountain.” (National Park Service Brochure)  It was 1923 and it wouldn’t be long until the country would be plunged into the great depression. Robinson and South Dakota’s Senator Peter Norbeck began fund raising...
By SMH Webmaster on 8/3/2015 12:00 AM
“And now, my friends, all that is noble, all that is just and pure, all that is loveable and gracious, whatever is excellent and admirable – fill your thoughts with these things.”  Philippians 4:8 NEB   “A negative outlook turns off the light of hope, changes love into hate and peace into stress.  But a positive outlook does the opposite.  It brings hope, ignites love and sets hearts ablaze,” (Creation Health Training Manual – Outlook).  Where is you focus?  What you focus on can determine how high you will rise, whether you reach your goals and how satisfied with life you will be.  Do you go around waiting for the hammer to fall?  The fallacy of catastrophic expectations is a term social scientists use to describe the thought process of the fearful.  These people think, “If something bad can happen, it will!”  This leads to a negative self-fulfilling prophecy and the behaviors that will feed the prophecy.  For example:  The “expected” failure of a relationship makes them act in ways that will destroy it.  Changing...
By SMH Webmaster on 7/27/2015 12:00 AM
He took her by the hand and said to her, “Talitha koum!” (which means “Little girl, I say to you, get up!”).  Mark 5:41 NIV   The above Bible verse contains a life-giving command that might not have happened if Jesus had not followed through on a request for help even after the person asking for help had given up hope.  A ruler of the synagogue, Jairus, had a sick daughter.  He begged Jesus to come to his house and heal her.  Jesus agreed to go and while, on his way, there was an interruption.  A woman who had been suffering from a menstrual condition for twelve years sought healing from Jesus.  Unfortunately, she could not get to him because of the large crowd that pressed about him and was only able to touch the hem of his garment but that was sufficient for her to be healed.  The touch did not go unnoticed because Jesus felt it and commended the woman for her faith.    About that time a message from the ruler’s house conveyed the news that Jairus had hoped to avoid, “Your daughter is dead…why bother the...
By SMH Webmaster on 7/21/2015 3:24 PM
A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.  Proverbs 17:22   Late on Saturday afternoon, a group of friends and I decided to visit a friend who because of failing health and old age was no longer able to get to church regularly.  We made a nice plate of food for her and stopped by her home.  As we visited with her, she told us that she was not feeling very well and shared that she had not eaten since breakfast but had no appetite.  We encouraged her to try to eat a little so that she would regain some strength and after much persuasion she agreed to try.    My friend and I sat with her at the table and we began to talk as she looked at the food in front of her.  She stressed her disinterest in the meal and pushed the food around with the fork taking tiny bites as if to pacify us.  We shared news about what was going on in the church.  We talked about her health, her family and we shared some funny stories.  We talked about what was going on in our lives and we laughed together....
By SMH Webmaster on 7/6/2015 12:00 AM
While attending the meetings of the General Conference of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in San Antonio, TX this past weekend. I rode in a taxi and was drawn into a conversation with the cab driver about why he was not a church goer. He said he believed in God but did not go to church because he knew that he would not be able to “keep the rules” (his words) and didn’t want to be a hypocrite. He felt that he wasn’t good enough and so he was better off living the way he did. I reminded him that nobody is perfect and all of us miss the mark from time to time. I tried to help him understand that God is merciful and gracious and then the car stopped, it was the end of the journey. I’ve been thinking about him, and people like him, since that cab ride and the following Bible passage came mind:
By SMH Webmaster on 6/29/2015 1:49 PM
What do you do when you are out of options? What do you do when you’ve tried everything you know but the circumstances don’t change? These questions are never asked when things are going well. Who wants things to change when they are going well? Well, perhaps some do. When things are going well, many, especially those in business, still want things to go better. There seems to be an insatiable drive to do more, have more, get bigger. Sometimes that drive comes from within and sometimes it comes from the expectations of others. We have a contentment problem. The Apostle Paul challenges our striving after more with these words, “I know how to live on almost nothing, or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or with little.” Philippians 4:12
By SMH Webmaster on 6/22/2015 12:08 PM
“When my father and mother forsake me, Then the LORD will take me up.”  Psalm 27:10 NKJV This Father’s Day was a precious one.  I texted and spoke with my children and grandchildren.  I spent the day reflecting on what it means to be a father and remembered good times and special moments.  I thought about how much I want to always be there for them.  As I reflected on the events of last Wednesday in the Emmanuel AME Church in Charleston, SC, it made me realize that even though I want to be, I may not always be able to be there for my children and grandchildren.  I am still blessed to have my 87 year old dad in my life and I don’t ever want him to leave but I realize that one day he will be gone.  Any one of a number of circumstances can take a father away from his family.  It may not be the vicious hate of a cold blooded killer, it could be old age, accident, illness or a divorce. The Psalmist is reflecting on the presence of God in his life as a protector, deliverer, the reason for his confidence and hope,...
By SMH Webmaster on 6/15/2015 12:00 AM
“They that are whole need not a physician; but they that are sick.  I came not to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.” Luke 5:31-32 KJV   The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, reports that, “many Americans have good access to health care that enables them to benefit fully from the Nation’s health care system”* while at the same time identifying disparities impacting other Americans who have difficulty accessing available care.  “National Healthcare Disparities Reports confirm that racial and ethnic minorities and people of low socioeconomic status are represented among those with access problems.”*     As I reflected upon this passage it struck me that the problem of access to care is centuries old.  In this passage of scripture Jesus is responding to critics of his practice of spending time with people who were deemed unworthy of the company of the “righteous”.  They were looked down upon because of their occupations, their lifestyles, their socioeconomic standing and even their health....
By SMH Webmaster on 6/8/2015 1:55 PM
“Some men came carrying a paralyzed man on a sleeping mat.  They tried to take him inside to Jesus, but they couldn’t reach him because of the crowd.  So they went up on the roof and took off some tiles.  Then they lowered the sick man on his mat down into the crowd, right in front of Jesus.”  Luke 5:18, 19 NLT How far would you go to help a friend?  There are two stories in the New Testament about friends carrying a paralyzed person to where they could get help.  The second one occurs in the third chapter of the Acts of the Apostles where friends carried a man daily to the Temple gate so that he could beg for alms.  He was eventually healed when he encountered Peter and John and never had to beg again.  The first is this story recorded by Luke.  People had gathered at a house where Jesus was presumably staying, and what a crowd.  There were Pharisees and Doctors of the Law from all of the surrounding towns along with people from all walks of life including the sick who had been brought so that Jesus could...
By SMH Webmaster on 6/1/2015 12:34 PM
 “Truly I tell you, anyone who gives you a cup of water in my name because you belong to the Messiah will certainly not lose their reward.” Mark 9:41 NIV   There will always be a great need somewhere.  This past weekend people in Texas and Oklahoma lost lives and property because of storms and flooding.  ABC News reported on May 2, 2015 that the death toll resulting from the earthquake in Nepal had risen to over 7,000 in addition to more than 14,000 people injured and thousands more homeless.  Relief agencies from around the world and around the U.S. rushed to bring aid as we watched the news with a sense of helplessness, some of us asking ourselves, what can we do?  But all of the needs of this world are not solely the result of natural disasters, neither do they all happen on a national or global scale.  They don’t all need disaster response teams and FEMA to provide help.  Some needs are smaller, everyday events that require a smaller yet no less significant response.   Think for a moment about the things...
By SMH Webmaster on 5/19/2015 10:07 AM
“Put out into deep water and let down your nets for a catch.” Luke 5:4 NIV   In his book, “Why Am I Afraid to Tell You Who I Am”, John Powel discusses five levels of communication.  He describes as follows: Level five; “Cliché Conversation”, exchange of greetings, small talk, “Did you see those Royals?”  Level four; “Reporting the Facts”, we talk about what happening but not about how it makes us feel or how it affects us. Level three; “Ideas and Judgements”, Ideas, thoughts and personal statements are shared about a variety of subjects and we begin to take some risks. Level two; “Feelings and Emotions”, at this level we start “sharing feelings about facts, ideas and judgments”. Level one; this is the kind of communication we share with a few close friends or family.  We are the most open, honest and vulnerable at this level.  This is the level at which true intimacy is shared and experienced.  This where it gets deep and sometimes a little scary, actually it can get a lot scary which...
By SMH Webmaster on 5/11/2015 8:38 AM
“…I will bless her, and she shall be a mother of nations; kings of people shall be of her.” Genesis 17:16 KJV   At ninety years old, if one is blessed with clarity of mind, life is mostly about looking back and reflecting over the journey.  It’s about passing on a few last pearls of wisdom to your children and grandchildren.  It is a time to set things in order and finally come to the place of acceptance about those long held hopes, dreams and desires that were never fulfilled.  I imagine that’s where Sarai was in her mind when she heard the words that were shared between her husband Abram and some visitors claiming to be messengers from God or as some understand it, God himself.   During that conversation there were name changing ceremonies, Abram – exalted father was changed to Abraham – father of a multitude and Sarai – princess was changed to Sarah – noblewoman, most commonly used in reference to one who was the wife of a king.  And there was an unbelievable promise.  At ninety Sarah was to get pregnant...
By SMH Webmaster on 5/4/2015 10:13 AM
“And by chance there came down a certain priest that way: and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side.  And likewise a Levite…and passed by on the other side.  But a certain Samaritan…, when he saw him, he had compassion on him.” Luke 10:31-33 KJV   We live in a busy, always on the go world.  There is always somewhere to go, something to do, someone to pick up, drop off or meet.  We are either preparing to do something, doing something or recovering from doing something.  We work ten and twelve hour days, have kids who are involved in more extra-curricular activities than we can keep up with and we long for a break.  They don’t come often but when they do we don’t want anything to get in the way of our, “me time”.   The Priest and the Levite in this story often get blasted for being mean spirited religious people who didn’t care enough to help.  I’d like you to take another look from their perspective.  I don’t think these busy professionals were that much different from many of us, they worked hard...
By SMH Webmaster on 4/27/2015 9:45 AM
So which of these three do you think was neighbor to him who fell among thieves?  And he said, he that showed mercy on him.  Then Jesus said unto him, go and do thou likewise.” Luke 10:36-37 NKJV   This is arguably the most well-known story from the Bible.  It is famously called, the story of the “Good Samaritan”, which almost implies that every other Samaritan was something other than good.  The essence of the story is that a man was mugged and left for dead.  His almost lifeless form was encountered by three passersby, two of whom it would have been assumed, a Priest and a Levite, should have been predisposed to offer help but they did not.  The reputation of the third, a Samaritan, marked him as one who would not care about this injured man because he was a Jew.  There had been a multigenerational feud between these two peoples that perhaps neither one of them knew what they were fighting about.  Yet this was the man who helped.   Note the progression of the encounters.  The Priest saw the man from the other side of the road and kept going.  The Levite came over to where he was, looked at him and passed by.  The Samaritan came to where he was, saw the man’s plight and was moved to action because he felt compassion and became personally involved in the life of a stranger....
By SMH Webmaster on 4/20/2015 11:48 AM
“And the King will say, I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the lease of these my brothers and my sisters, you were doing it to me.” Matthew 25:40 NKJV   In the business of healthcare we continually measure ourselves with a variety of performance metrics.  We use self-assessments such scorecards, dashboards, quality assessments of a wide variety that measure everything from admission to discharge and beyond.  We are evaluated by external organizations such as Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS) and Press Ganey.  We recently completed a survey by the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO) to ensure that we are in compliance with safely standards and evidence based best practices.  We underwent thorough site inspections, chart and policy reviews and interviews.  We do all these things to demonstrate and evaluate our commitment to patient safety and quality.    I was discussing the purpose of quality and safety metrics with a non-healthcare...
By SMH Webmaster on 4/13/2015 12:00 AM
“He was despised and rejected – a man of sorrows, acquainted with grief.  We turned our backs on him and looked the other way.  He was despised and we did not care.” Isaiah 53:3 NLT   What’s the worst thing anyone has ever done to you?  Has anyone ever lied to you?  Has anyone ever broken a promise to you?  Have you ever been betrayed or sold out by someone you trusted? Have you been stolen from or disowned?  Over the course of a lifetime, we may experience many hurtful things and in my experience, the hardest things to bear are those hurts that come from people who are closest to us or that we trust the most.  If we take just a moment to reflect on some of these occurrences we can probably still feel the hurt.  But with the passage of time and some intentional work, directed at healing, we can learn to deal with most, if not, all of those hurts.   In the last week of the life of Jesus, he was lied to, sold out, denied, deserted and disappointed and these were done to him by his friends.  Then the authorities...
By SMH Webmaster on 4/6/2015 9:23 AM
“He is not here: for he is risen…” Matthew 28:6 Easter weekend is a high and Holy day on the Christian calendar.  The weekend celebrates what has come to be known as the Passion of Christ.  It begins on Good Friday with the death by crucifixion of Jesus and ends on Easter Sunday with the resurrection of Jesus from the dead.  These events are important to Christians because we believe that Jesus’ death on the cross paid the penalty for our sins and his resurrection is evidence that he has power over death and therein lies the hope of all Christians that through him we have eternal life.   The timing of the holiday is interesting because it moves every year.  It falls on the first Sunday after the full moon that follows the spring equinox in the northern hemisphere and coincides with a Saxon Pagan spring festival that I am not sure is even practiced anymore, some historians say it celebrated the goddess Eastra and occurs around the same time as the Jewish Holiday, Passover.  Eighth century Anglo-Saxon Christians...
By SMH Webmaster on 3/24/2015 12:23 PM
“They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick.” Matthew 9:12 KJV   Jesus’ actions and associations were always under scrutiny.  He was judged when he performed a miracle, criticized about his teachings and questioned about his associations.  The statement above was made by Jesus after he had encountered criticism for attending a dinner at Matthew’s house.  Matthew was a tax collector and as such was despised by his own people because tax collectors worked for the Romans and had a reputation for being notoriously dishonest.  Matthew’s friends, who attended this meal, were referred to as “publicans and sinners” and it was unacceptable, according to the religious custom of the day, for a Rabbi to associate with this sort.  Jesus in his statement defended his actions by clearly indicating he was unbiased in his approach to sharing the love of God.   Bias or prejudice can be obvious such as intentional racism, sexism, ageism, etc., or it can be so subtle that we are not even aware of it.  Are...
By SMH Webmaster on 3/16/2015 8:55 AM
“The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD: and he delighteth in his way.  Though he fall, he shall not utterly be cast down: for the LORD upholdeth him with his hand.” Psalm 37:23, 24 KJV
 
What do you plan to accomplish this week?  What’s on your to do list or calendar?  How did you arrive at that plan?  How will you go about accomplishing it?  The Psalmist presents a guide for our work life that most people do not practice.  It’s not because we are bad people, it’s just that we’re busy and we are educated, prepared and pretty skillful.  Most of the time we feel like we know what we’re doing and we have deadlines to make and goals to accomplish so we just get on with it.  But I wonder how much success we are robbing ourselves of by not allowing God to order our steps.

By SMH Webmaster on 3/9/2015 8:36 AM
Then the devil went away, and angels came and took care of Jesus.  Matthew 4:11 NLT  

After his baptism Jesus was led by the Holy Spirit into the wilderness where he fasted for forty days.  When Jesus was weak and hungry the devil came and tempted him in three ways (verses 3-10).  In each case Jesus resisted the temptation by quoting the scriptures. 

It is interesting to note that Jesus was physically at his weakest when the devil came to tempt him.  A closer look at the three temptations will indicate that they were designed to weaken him spiritually.  The first temptation was intended to sow seeds of doubt as to who Jesus was, “If you are the son of God, tell these stones to become loaves of bread.” There are times when our physical circumstances can make us wonder who we are or if we really matter.  Sickness and emotional suffering may cause us to doubt that God cares but they do not change the reality that God is.  Jesus was able to look past his circumstances and trust the word of God, just...
By SMH Webmaster on 3/4/2015 10:47 AM
“…she pestered him daily with her words and pressed him, so that his soul was vexed to death, that he told her all his heart…” Judges 16:16, 17 KJV

 

It is one of the most famous stories in the Bible.  It is a story about a hero, about good versus evil.  It has a strongman and a femme fatale.  It’s a story about passion and purpose set in a time of struggle and oppression.  It’s a story about strength and weakness, failure and forgiveness, tragedy and triumph.  It’s a story for all ages.  It’s the story of Samson and Delilah.

 

Samson was chosen before birth to be a deliverer in Israel.  He had been set aside as a Nazarite and given a special gift of super human strength.  With this strength he killed a lion with his bare hands, defeated Philistine armies single handedly and walked off with the gates of a city, posts and all.  But as strong as Samson was he had a weakness.  His weakness was that he didn’t know he had a weakness.  He was a man driven by desire and because of his great...
By SMH Webmaster on 3/2/2015 11:23 AM
“And when you fast, don’t make it obvious, as the hypocrites do, for they try to look miserable and disheveled so people will admire them for their fasting. I tell you the truth, that is the only reward they will ever get.” Matthew 6:16 NLT

The Bible speaks of two kinds of fasting, one in which you refrain from eating and the other a lifestyle of kindness.  In Jesus day it was taught that fasting should be done two days a week and the ritual included abstaining from food and sometimes drink, putting ashes on your head and having a mournful demeanor.  This was the most commonly practiced for of fasting.  Prayer was always a part of the fasting experience.  People fasted as part of religious practice but sometimes they fasted and prayed because they were facing a major calamity and wanted to appeal to God with a sense of earnestness and urgency.  A couple of examples of this would be, when the Jews faced the threat of genocide because of Haman’s plot (see the story of Esther) and the response of the people...
By SMH Webmaster on 2/23/2015 12:00 AM
“Give ear to my words, O Lord, consider my meditation.  Harken unto the voice of my cry, my King, and my God: For unto thee will I pray.  My voice shalt thou hear in the morning.  O Lord; in the morning will I direct my prayer unto thee, and will look up.”  Psalm 5:1-4 KJV

How do you begin your day?  How did you begin your day, today?  What was your first thought?  What was your first action?  For some it might have been an expression of gratitude for another day of life.  Some of us might have muttered something about hating Mondays while wishing for a longer weekend.  Others of us may have stumbled in our morning stupor toward the coffee pot before ever thinking a conscious thought.  But what was that thought when it eventually came?

The verses above, from the fifth Psalm, direct us to morning prayers.  I must admit there are mornings when I’m not sure what I want to say to God.  On mornings like these I usually borrow someone else’s words. 

Since we began the month of February with a prayer...
By SMH Webmaster on 1/26/2015 10:30 AM
“Now it came to pass, as He was praying in a certain place, when He ceased, that one of His disciples said to Him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples.”  Luke 11:1 NKJV   I received a text message from a friend in another state this weekend who I have not seen or spoken to since last July.  The message simply said that they had been thinking about me and praying for me for about a week.  It made me feel so good to know that I was being prayed for.  I reflected on events in my life over the last week and wondered which of those good things and special moments might have been as a result of those prayers.   Ronald Dunn says that prayer is like a guided missile, you can launch it from anywhere and it will always find its target, paraphrased from, “Don’t Just Stand There, Pray Something”.  So why don’t we pray more?  Prayer is the most potent weapon in the believer’s arsenal yet we resort to it so infrequently or when we feel we are out of other options.  “Why should the sons and daughters...
By SMH Webmaster on 1/19/2015 10:21 AM
“I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.” Philippians 3:13b-14 NLT   On this Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., holiday, we remember a man who lived this passage of scripture.  He was driven by a dream that all people should be treated with the dignity that every child of God deserves, regardless of ethnicity, the color of your skin, culture, religion, education level, financial status or the circumstances of your birth. The passage speaks of doing one thing but three things are mentioned.  Forgetting the past, looking forward to what lies ahead and pressing on to the end of the race.  Let’s face it, it is hard to forget the past and it is also unwise to do so.  “If you forget the past, you are doomed to repeat it”, says Sara Shepherd, author of “Pretty Little Liars”.  Our experiences of the past, good and bad, have much to do with who we are today....
By SMH Webmaster on 1/12/2015 10:19 AM
“The fire will show if a person’s work has any value.” 1 Corinthians 3:14 NLT   The beginning of a New Year is a time of evaluation for most people.  We reflect on what took place in the previous year and we make plans to continue the good practices in our lives and discontinue the bad.  By the time we get to about week three many of us realize that we are not going to be able to sustain all of the changes we said we would make and we try to focus on the ones that we deem most important or some of us just give up.   The Apostle Paul, in the first letter to the Corinthian Church (chapter 3:9-15) talks about what the Life Application Bible calls the “ultimate performance review”.  In this letter, his readers are reminded that all our works will be evaluated and judged by fire.  The context of the passage suggests that it is a metaphor for the life of the believer and that the fire is symbolic of trials.  He first reminds us that the foundation on which we build is perfect, it is Jesus.  However, as we build on that foundation we will do so with a variety of building materials.  The building materials, gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay and straw represent our actions and words.  Think of the ways in which you interact with others.  Which of these actions or words could be described as golden, precious or of lasting value?  Which of them would you describe as cheap, valueless or fleeting? ...
By SMH Webmaster on 1/6/2015 10:16 AM
“Now there is in Jerusalem…a pool which is called Bethesda…a certain man was there who had an infirmity thirty-eight years…Jesus…said to him, do you want to be made well?” John 5:2, 5 & 6 NKJV   Sometimes opportunities are right there, at our fingertips, and for whatever reason we have been unable to access them, perhaps for years.  Sometimes new beginnings or breakthroughs come from where we least expect them.  This was the experience of a certain man.  This phrase, “a certain man”, is one of my favorite phrases in scripture because it allows me to insert my name.  It is a little exclusive if we leave it in the masculine form so I like to broaden it to include all of humanity, a certain person.   For thirty-eight years he had been disabled.  It is not clear what his disability was but it is clear that it involved a certain amount of immobility.  He literally couldn’t get to where he wanted without help from someone else and so for years he laid within reach of that which he believed could rid him of his handicap...
By SMH Webmaster on 12/30/2014 10:13 AM
Through the LORD’s mercies we are not consumed, Because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness. Lamentations 3:22-23   As we approach the New Year, many of us find ourselves in a reflective mode.  Perhaps our first reflection is focused on the over indulgence of Holiday excesses mingled with regrets and promises to ourselves that we won’t do that again.  Perhaps our thoughts are more serious as we think about things that we may have done or said that have caused hurt or harm to another.  It may also be that we are thinking about the relationships in our lives that could use some work and how we might address these.  Perhaps we are reflecting upon the results of decisions we have made about work and life and are wishing we could have another opportunity, a do over.  Some of us are at points in our lives where we have to make or face major changes.      The writer of the book of Lamentations, believed to be the prophet Jeremiah, is reflecting in this passage on the...
By SMH Webmaster on 12/22/2014 10:12 AM
“For with God, nothing shall be impossible.”  Luke 1:37   Mary was stunned by the message of the angel who had appeared to her and announced that she had been chosen to be the mother of the Jesus.  While it was the hope of every Hebrew maiden to be the recipient of this honor, sometimes reality can be sobering.  When faced with reality, romantic notions and flights of fancy are driven out by fear, panic and uncertainty.  As the idea dawned on her she began to think of reasons why it could not happen.  I am too young, I’m not married… and I am a virgin.  How can this be?  The angel explained that nothing is impossible with God and in an effort to give her faith a foot hold, God had performed another impossible thing six months earlier with Mary’s cousin Elizabeth.   Elizabeth and her husband were old.  She had never been able to have children and had endured the shame and sense of incompleteness that came with being an infertile woman in that culture and generation.  Now resigned to the fact that she and Zechariah,...
By SMH Webmaster on 12/15/2014 10:07 AM
“This is how Jesus the Messiah was born. His mother, Mary, was engaged to be married to Joseph. But before the marriage took place, while she was still a virgin, she became pregnant…”  Matthew 1:18   Ten days until Christmas.  The decorating is done.  Christmas traditions are about to be enjoyed again, the trip to grandma’s house, the placing of the treasured Christmas ornament atop the tree, making grandma’s secret recipe.  There are even gifts under some trees already.  The excitement is mounting, the kids can’t wait and it’s ok to overspend just a little so that everyone can have a good time, right?  People are being nicer to each other too, wishing merry Christmas and Happy Holidays.  It’s beautiful!   Amid all the preparing to celebrate, there are people who don’t feel like celebrating.  A loved one is no longer here.  They were taken away by an accident or disease or violence or old age.  Some of them walked away or ran away.  There are homes where someone has not had a job for more than two years and...
By SMH Webmaster on 12/8/2014 10:04 AM
“Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows…” Matthew 1:18 NKJV   The Birth of a child is one of the most joyfully anticipated events in the human experience and every one of them is a miracle.  Shawnee Mission Medical Center’s new Birth Center will deliver close to 5,000 babies by the end of 2014, that’s more babies than any other hospital in the Kansas City Metro.  That’s a lot of miracles.  Because babies are so special, many of us get very creative with how we announce the pregnancy and subsequently the birth.  When our daughter was pregnant with our second grandchild she gave us each a gift bag and when I opened mine there was a baby’s bib with the words, “I love Grandad” written on it.  I still smile broadly as I remember that moment.   At this time of the year our minds are focused on another birth miracle, the miracle of Christmas.  This birth is so special that it is preceded by a series of angelic announcements.  The Gospel accounts of Matthew and Luke present the story with slightly different perspectives but they each report encounters with angel announcers, Luke has the most.  His Gospel begins with the angelic announcement of the birth of John the Baptist (the forerunner for Jesus) to his father Zacharias, while he was performing his priestly functions in the Temple.  Both Zacharias and his wife Elisabeth were old and she had been infertile their entire marriage.  The closing statement of the announcement says, “And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth.” (Luke 1:14) Well of course, this announcement came with two miracles attached: An old woman would get pregnant and her infertility would be eradicated.  This was the first mention of joy associated with the birth of Jesus....
By SMH Webmaster on 12/3/2014 9:57 AM
In the twenty-fifth chapter of Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus shared three parables about how to wait.  The first parable recounts the story of ten bridesmaids waiting for the wedding party to arrive at the bridegroom’s house.  They each had a lamp fueled by olive oil.  As they waited, it became apparent that the wedding party would be late.  It is important for me to point out that they were outside and it was already after sunset.  Because of the delayed arrival it became necessary to refuel their lamps but only half of the group brought extra oil with them.  The Bible calls them wise.  The others in the group brought no extra and when their lamps went out they asked the others to share their oil with them.  They refused to share saying that there was not enough, fearing that if they shared, they might all wind up in darkness.  The unprepared bridesmaids, who are referred to as foolish, went to the store to buy oil but when they returned, the feast had already begun and they found themselves locked out. The second...
By SMH Webmaster on 12/1/2014 9:52 AM
“Leave her alone. Why criticize her for doing such a good thing to me? ...She has done what she could…” Mark 14:6 & 8 NLT   Have you ever questioned someone else’s effort?  Have you ever thought that what that person is doing seems like it was way over the top?  Have you ever scoffed at the efforts of someone else under your breath, “over achiever”?  Have you ever sneered, “Well, who does she think she is”?  Have you ever questioned someone else’s right to be here?   One of the most famous acts of service and devotion in scripture is captured in the Gospels of Matthew, 26:6-13; Mark, 14:3-11; Luke, 7:36-50 and John, 12:1-8.  The accounts vary slightly but the emphasis is the same.  A woman known to be a sinner, came to a dinner to which she was uninvited and unwelcomed, there she wept at the feet of Jesus, dried his feet with her hair and then anointed them with expensive fragrant ointment.  This act of service and devotion caused the invited guests to question and criticize her character, her right to be there, her motivation for doing it and Jesus’ integrity as a prophet or the Messiah....
By SMH Webmaster on 11/24/2014 9:48 AM
“A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or gold.” Proverbs 22:1 NIV   Yesterday I went to the memorial service of a man I met only once, a few months ago.  A few friends from our monthly Physician/Clergy Dialogue Group spent just over an hour listening to a dying man who had figured out how to live while building his own coffin.  He said, “The project has smoothed the rough edges of my thoughts. It’s pretty much impossible to feel anger at someone for driving too slowly in front of you in traffic when you’ve just come from sanding your own coffin. Coveting material objects, holding on to old grudges, failing to pause and see the grace in strangers — all equally foolish. While the coffin is indeed a reminder of what awaits us all, its true message is to live every moment to its greatest potential.”  So profound was the impact of that one hour with Dr. Jeffrey Piehler that I felt compelled to pay my respects.   As I sat in the service I began to think about the other people, besides my parents, who have impacted my life in such a way that their influence is still a guiding force.  I thought of Mr. Steele, a primary school teacher who believed in me more than I believed in myself, he helped me to unlock my potential.  On my first job in sales at nineteen years old I learned about courage, facing challenges and being tenacious from my sales manager, Ron Hansen-Luke, who told me, “Bite off more than you can chew and make darn sure you chew it.”  In my late forties, I was trying to discern which direction in ministry I should take, I heard Jackson Doggette preach a powerful message, “Stay in Your Lane”.  It challenged me to think about being in the right lane based on the gifts, skills and passions that God had given to me.  I became a Chaplain about a year later.  There have been many influences in my life, these are just a few and I am so grateful for them....
By SMH Webmaster on 11/10/2014 9:41 AM
“For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility…” Ephesians 2:14 NIV   Perhaps the most enduring symbol of communism and separation, the Berlin wall, stood up to twelve feet high at certain points, it measured 105 miles in length as it snaked across the city separating East Germany from West Germany.  There were 302 watch towers manned with armed guards, twenty bunkers and soldiers armed with machine guns patrolled with guard dogs.  The wall started as a wire fence patrolled by hundreds of soldiers on the night of August 15, 1961.  An improved wire fence was in place a year later and by 1965 the first concrete wall was constructed.   That wall was replaced ten years later by a new reinforced concrete wall that stood until 1989.  In 1962 a second wall was build 110 yards from the first creating what was known as the “death strip” between the two walls.  If someone was able to make it over the first wall they had to cross this floodlit,...
By SMH Webmaster on 10/27/2014 2:57 PM
"With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26 NIV   2 Kings 6:1-7 presents an incredible story.  Some young men from Elisha’s school of the prophets are gathering lumber for a building project.  As they are cutting down trees near the river bank the axe head from one of the workers axe flies off its handle in mid swing and lands in the river.  Now that does not sound like a big deal because no one was injured but the cause for concern is that it was a borrowed tool and the user was worried about the cost of replacing it.  When the prophet learns of the situation he asks or the approximate location for where it fell.  The Bible says (verse 6) that the prophet cut down a stick and threw it in the water and the axe head floated to the surface.  Unbelievable, right?   The oil tanker, Mont, was the largest ship ever built.  From stem to stern it was 1503 feet long; that is longer than the Empire State Building is tall.  It weighed 214,793 tons and sailed under a Norwegian...
By SMH Webmaster on 10/20/2014 2:51 PM
“Tell me, what do you have in the house?” 2 Kings 4:2a

 

The practice of enslaving the poor or their children to satisfy a debt was a common occurrence in ancient Israel.  Unscrupulous creditors would use this practice as an intimidation to force the last penny out of a debtor and when they could pay no more they or their children would be taken into service until the creditor felt they had served long enough to satisfy the debt.  In most cases that meant serving until the next year of Jubilee when slaves would be freed and debts cancelled.  This was the dilemma of a poor widow who reached out to the prophet Elisha for help.

 

His question indicates a very significant truth about examining what resources we have available to us and how they can be used to resolve many of our challenges. “…what do you have in the house?”  Her reply, “…nothing but a jar of oil”, seemed to imply that she esteemed the oil of no value in light of her immediate dilemma.  The prophet set out to demonstrate...
By SMH Webmaster on 10/13/2014 2:47 PM
“You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.  This is the first and great commandment.   And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”  Matthew 22:37-39 NKJV

 

Most of us in western society have learned how to compartmentalize our lives.  We have the vaious areas of our lives neatly sectioned off and try hard not to allow them to intersect.  We manage family life, work life, spiritual life and personal life as separate entities and then try to maintain that we live life in a holistic and balanced way. 

 

We are blessed to work in a faith-based organization where we are encouraged to integrate spiritual life and work life but how can we intergrate all of the areas of our lives?  Alan Mullaly, former Ford Motor Compamy CEO engaged a philisophy that allowed him to be who he was at the core of his being.  He brought the domains of his life together by practicing a simple maxim, “To love and to be loved”.  The...
By SMH Webmaster on 10/6/2014 2:38 PM
“This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones.” Proverbs 3:8 NIV

 

It was lunchtime and I’d had a busy morning.  I decided to eat my lunch in a nearby park.  There’s a pavilion on the other side of a small pond that can be seen from the parking lot.  I decided that would be a good spot to eat.  It was a beautiful day.  The sky was clear, temperature in the mid-seventies, humidity close to zero and there was a gentle breeze on which the fragrances of flowers, freshly mowed grass and charcoal mingled with barbeque wafted through the air.  I made my way along the path around the pond to