Bolivian Whistling Birds


I recently just returned from Illinois where I was able to give my nephew birthday gifts that I bought for him in Bolivia. It might be difficult to tell from the picture, but I gave him a parrot and a toucan that are hallowed out on the inside. When you pour a little water inside of them and then blow through a hole in the birds, they make a high trilling noise just like birds. I also gave him a wooden frog that has divots on its back. When you gently roll a small wooden stick over the divots, it sounds like sound a frog would make. Happy birthday, Atticus!

Discipleship and the Word


Recently I was reflecting upon the nature and meaning of discipleship. Although discipleship is perhaps best known in relation to the Great Commission (to go and make disciples of all nations), I was meditating on Jesus’ words in John 8:31: “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples.” I love that word “abide” and everything that it connotes: to live in, to remain in, to soak up, to be a student of, to learn from, to rest and believe in …  THE WORD. And what is The Word? Jesus Christ who became flesh and dwelt among us and sets us free!

Everyone is a disciple (a student) of someone or something (a teacher). We spend every moment of our lives absorbing teachings. When we surf the web, read a book, speak to a friend, watch a movie, turn on the TV, scroll through our Facebook feed or read a billboard while driving on the freeway, someone or something is trying to disciple us (teach us) to make a certain decision, think a certain way, feel a certain way, act a particular way, or reorient our lives in a new way. We can reject that discipleship, for sure, but how often are we really actively fighting against (let alone aware of) even the smallest, most insidious seeds of the discipleship of destruction that Satan is trying to plant in us?

Thought of in another way: what you spend most of your life doing or thinking about is what you are a disciple of. If you watch TV a lot, but couldn’t be bothered to serve at church, then you are a disciple of the TV. If you spend time on Facebook or other fun apps, but can’t seem to find time for prayer, then you are a disciple of Facebook, if you can always make room to have fun with friends, but can’t seem to fit in time in the Word, then you are a disciple of fun with friends. John warns most passionately about living a life such as this: “Little children, keep yourselves from idols.” (1 John 5:21) Of what or of whom are you a disciple? When I took time to consider it, I was able to discover a few competing “discipleships” in my life that just always seem to rob me of time with the Lord. Worse yet, I noticed that I had developed patterns of thought to justify those things.

The good news is that if we are in Christ, we do not stand condemned for the competing allegiances in our lives! (Romans 8:1) God lovingly offers the gift of forgiveness and the power of the Holy Spirit to change. How much more joyful it is to be mastered by the word, mastered by freedom, mastered by the truth–in short, to be a disciple of Christ.

A Profile of Courage


Of the four classical, cardinal virtues–justice, moderation, prudence, and courage–I am most impressed by courage because I believe it to be the rarest of the four and the most difficult to practice. Ultimate, full-blown courage, the kind that seems so rare today, I would define as the willingness to suffer and potentially die for the sake of righteousness. I think that this kind of courage is reflected in Christ’s words in the Sermon on the Mount: “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:10). Courage is a gift of the Holy Spirit, but it is also a choice that the Lord commands that we make: “Be strong, and let your heart take courage, all you who wait for the LORD! (Psalm 31:24)

If you are interested in true stories that are profiles of courage, then I highly recommend “God’s Smuggler.” It is about Andrew van der Bijl–a young Dutch man who smuggled Bibles into communist countries starting in the 1950s. At a time when the church was oppressed, persecuted, and imprisoned by communist governments that insisted that God was dead, Andrew ministered to brothers and sisters in Christ behind the Iron Curtain. He preached the gospel, smuggled Bibles, and clothed the naked, all the while risking his life. I am currently about half way through the book and I hesitate to share much more than what you can read on the back cover because I’d hate to give anything more away. Read it! And see how God speaks to you!