Spoiler Alert!

Spoiler Alert!



Late last year vandals around Los Angeles tagged bus and billboard ads for the movie Marley & Me.  The point of the tagging was not what you would expect, ie gang symbols or mustaches but rather to spoil the end of the movie by spray painting the words “The dog dies”.  I have not seen the movie so I don’t know if the dog actually dies or not, plus there were reports that the whole campaign was a hoax and the dog actually doesn’t die.

In a somewhat related story, in March 2009 The Program on Public Values at Trinity College in Hartford, Conn. released the results of its wide-ranging study on American Religious life.  The report surveyed 54,461 adults in English or Spanish from February to November 2008.

They found, among other things, that the percentage of Christians in the nation has declined and more people say that they have no religion at all.  To be exact 15% of those surveyed said they had no religion at all, an increase from 8.2% in 1990.  In fact the study found that the number of Americans with no religion rose in every state.  The survey also found that Christians (not including Catholics) comprised 86% of US adults in 1990 compared with 76% currently.

Perhaps the most concerning finding was that about 12% of Americans believe in a higher power but not the personal God at the core of monotheistic faiths.  And, since 1990, a slightly greater share of respondents – 1.2% – said they were part of new religious movements, including Scientology, Wicca and Senteria.

These trends unfortunately do not seem to be exclusive to the US.  Recently in the UK, as part of an initiative launched by a group called the National Secular Society,  more than 100,000 Britons downloaded “certificates of de-baptism” from the internet to renounce their Christian faith.  Add to this Michael Spencer’s recent “The Coming Evangelical Collapse” and its easy to see how, at least for the near future, things for Christianity may not seem especially bright.

Of course the good news is that the end of THIS story, much like the story of the adorable, but naughty and neurotic dog in Marley& Me, has been spoiled.   No matter how many “certificates of de-baptism” are downloaded from the internet or how badly the popularity of Christianity is diminished we, as Christians, can rejoice in God’s Providence and the shed blood of his Son Jesus Christ who was sent to die for our sins. 

At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other,  and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people.  Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold,  but he who stands firm to the end will be saved.  And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations,and then the end will come.

 – Matthew 24:10-14


Happy Easter

That’s My King

It all goes back in the box!

“You have to ask yourself: When you finally get the ultimate possession, when you’ve made the ultimate purchase,when you buy the ultimate home, when you have stored up financial security and climbed the ladder of success to the highest rung you can possibly climb it, and the thrill wears off–and it will wear off–then what?”

— John Ortberg


The text that follows is an excerpt from John Ortberg’s book “It all goes back in the box”.  At the bottom of the text is a video companion sermon also by Pastor John Ortberg, DON’T MISS IT.  Enjoy!

There is an analogy that comes from the world of games. It was used quite some time ago by a psychologist named James Dobson. I first learned it from my grandmother. My grandmother taught me how to play the game monopoly. Now, my grandmother was a wonderful person.  She raised six children. She was a widow by the time I knew her well.  She lived in our house for many, many years. And she was a lovely woman, but she was the most ruthless Monopoly player I have ever known in my life. Imagine what would have happened if Donald Trump had married Leona Helmsley and they would have had a child. Then, you have some picture of what my grandmother was like when she played Monopoly. She understood that the name of the game is to acquire. 

When we would play when I was a little kid and I got my money from the bank, I would always want to save it, hang on to it, because it was just so much fun to have money. She spent on everything she landed on. And then, when she bought it, she would mortgage it as much as she could and buy everything else she landed on. She would accumulate everything she could. And eventually, she became the master of the board. 

And every time I landed, I would have to pay her money. And eventually, every time she would take my last dollar, I would quit in utter defeat. And then she would always say the same thing to me. She’d look at me and she’d say, “One day, you’ll learn to play the game.” I hated it when she said that to me. But one summer, I played Monopoly with a neighbor kid–a friend of mine–almost every day, all day long. We’d play Monopoly for hours. 

And that summer, I learned to play the game. I came to understand the only way to win is to make a total commitment to acquisition. I came to understand that money and possessions, that’s the way that you keep score. And by the end of that summer, I was more ruthless than my grandmother. I was ready to bend the rules, if I had to, to win that game. And I sat down with her to play that fall. 

Slowly, cunningly, I exposed my grandmother’s vulnerability. Relentlessly, inexorably, I drove her off the board. The game does strange things to you. I can still remember. It happened at Marvin Gardens. I looked at my grandmother. She taught me how to play the game.  She was an old lady by now. She was a widow. She had raised my mom. She loved my mom. She loved me. I took everything she had. I destroyed her financially and psychologically. I watched her give her last dollar and quit in utter defeat. It was the greatest moment of my life.

And then she had one more thing to teach me. Then she said, “Now it all goes back in the box–all those houses and hotels, all the railroads and utility companies, all that property and all that wonderful money–now it all goes back in the box.” I didn’t want it to go back in the box. I wanted to leave the board out, bronze it maybe, as a memorial to my ability to play the game.  

“No,” she said, “None of it was really yours. You got all heated up about it for a while, but it was around a long time before you sat down at the board, and it will be here after you’re gone. Players come and players go. But it all goes back in the box.”

And the game always ends. For every player, the game ends. Every day you pick up a newspaper, and you can turn to a page that describes people for whom this week the game ended. Skilled businessmen, an aging grandmother who was in a convalescent home with a brain tumor, teenage kids who think they have the whole world in front of them, and somebody drives through a stop sign. It all goes back in the box–houses and cars, titles and clothes, filled barns, bulging portfolios, even your body.

You can buy John Ortberg’s book  “It all goes back in the box” here.

Please watch John Ortberg’s sermon on “It all goes back in the box”

Cloudy, with a chance of hate mail!


A few months ago over at the Ordinary Miracles blog I authored a post entitled “Lose yourself in a cause greater than yourself“.  It talks about the benefits of “Losing yourself” in a cause greater than yourself and how it is the surest way to happiness.  I explain that “Losing yourself” requires you to have a passion for serving others, to be loving and compassionate towards others and to be grateful for all that you are and have.

Shortly after posting it an individual posted a message in the  comments section saying: “Expletive THE WORLD” (The expletive is a four letter word that starts with an “F”).  I don’t know what in my post would make someone react that way.  I don’t understand why my suggestion that we should give ourselves to others by serving and loving them and to be grateful could be so offensive to someone that they would make such a comment.  

Of course there are a lot people who post such comments in attempts at humor, but I think this was deeper than that.  I think this individual was literally annoyed at my suggestion that in order to live a full and rewarding life you have to take your eyes off yourself and put them on to others and the idea that you have to be a “servant” in order to be “served”.  But perhaps his comment is just symptomatic of  our “culture of narcissism” a society of total self absorption where people have retreated to personal preoccupations — getting in touch with their feelings, gyrating around gypsy gurus and self actualization. 

What do you think?  Read the post here then if you like come back here and post your opinion (vulgar or offensive messages will not be approved). 😉


LOVE the world

. . .Its about Love!

. . .Its about Love!

Read Part “A” – Its not about You!

fotolia_4362607_xsIts About Love.  To love and be loved.  But what is love really?  And what does it have to do with leading a meaningful joy-filled life?  Love is not a mere feeling, behavior, thought, or biochemical response.  Love is free and available to all and everyone.  There is no end to its supply, in fact the more love you put out the more it generates.  Love is a key ingredient to happiness and every day that you don’t have love in your life it will get a little colder and a little harder – every day until the day you die.

Love is as critical to your mind and body as oxygen – that’s not negotiable.  To love and be loved is to be relationally connected to other people.  The more connected you are the healthier you will be both physically and emotionally.  The less connected you are the less meaningful your life.  A study by C. Norman Shealy, M.D. and Carolyn Myss, Ph.D., found that to love and be loved is life-changing even in the most literal sense.  They found that love is a factor in improving the immune system, adding to life expectancy and creating overall happiness.  Their research shows that even bad habits like smoking and overeating have less of an impact on those who are relationally connected and have a loving support system.  Children who are exposed to unconditional love from their parents have a good self esteem and more zest for life.

Every day express your love.  Find words and actions of love that are appropriate.  Learn to speak words of blessing rather than criticism.  Share your resources with a needy person.  Participate in your community of faith.  Offer gifts and perform thoughtful deeds with no ulterior motivation.  Honor confidentiality when it would be easier not to.  Be there for someone even though its not convenient.  Give some serious thought and energy about how to express to somebody that you love what they really mean to you.  When you get a leading to reach out to somebody, to give somebody a positive note or some words of encouragement or to wrap your arms around somebody – don’t blow it off!  Its your chance to love.  Remember how short life is and what really matters.  Its all about LOVE.

Its not about You. . .

Its not about You. . .

Read part “B” – Its About Love!


Its not about you.  Its not bout your own personal fulfillment, your goals or your achievements.  Nor is it about the title that comes after your name, the big corner office you sit in or the big shiny car you drove to that office.

American historian Christopher Lasch calls it the “culture of narcissism” a society of total self absorption where people have retreated to personal preoccupations.  Its a world of “self actualization”, and of too much getting in touch with feelings, eating healthy foods, working out and reading self-help books.

Too often we crave to be admired more than to be loved making us increasingly impoverished when it comes to intimate, close relationships.  Many of us who are busy and overworked complain incessantly, but it is often with an undertone of boastfulness with the hidden message that I’m so busy because I’m so important.  Coupled with the fact that in today’s society there is a growing determination to “live for the moment” and an attitude of instant gratification, its no wonder that an estimated 19 million North Americans suffer from depression.  Despite the books, the diets and the exercise they are not happy with their situation, they lack fulfillment, they are alone.  This is also apparent in the dissolution of families and a lack of community and authentic intimacy.

There is in all of us a void nothing else can fill.  A need for human relationships, for community, a need to connect with others.  This need for community and deep connectedness with other people has no substitute.  Not money, not achievement, not busyness and not self.  That void that is in all of us can only be filled with one thing, LOVE.  Because its not about you . . . Its about LOVE!