Tag Archives: Random thoughts

9 things

1. To the extent that men coerce their wives to submit, either by threats or promises of reward, to that extent their marriage is NOT a picture of Christ and his church.

2. Our submission to Christ as Christians is from a willing heart of love.

3. When I was growing up, my mother prepared a dish from ground beef, tomato sauce, macaroni, cans of corn…and then she dumped in whatever leftovers she had in the fridge. She called it “goulash”. I just found out that my friend’s mother did the exact same thing. I was an adult before I learned that goulash was actually a real dish with a real recipe.

4. My daughter has numbers that she favors. “Favors” is the wrong word, because it is beyond that. She cannot eat 10 grapes. She cannot eat 11 grapes. She CAN eat 9 grapes. And so on with any food that can be numbered. Thus, “9 things…”

5. Obedience that comes from a servile heart of fear is not acceptable to God. The fact that is acceptable to many who profess Christ continues to astound me. How can a man desire a wife who is afraid of him?

6. When a partner uses sexual favors to reward good behavior or withholds them to punish bad behavior, the sex life will always suffer. Sex that is exchanged for goods if the heart of harlotry, not Biblical sexuality.

7. Yesterday, I finished “The Extraordinary Life of Sam Hell” by Robert Dugoni. It is one of the best novels I’ve read this year. I’m not sure about the ending, though…I have to mull that one over…

8. I have been thinking about the concept of “Christian Culture.” I guess that I don’t know what that means and who gets to enforce it. Some proclaim the 19th century south as the pinnacle of Christian Culture.  I guess it would depend on which side of the whip one was on…

9. Proper social behavior enforced by the elite is not Christianity. Taliban, maybe. But not Christ.


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Odds and ends

It has been a rough week. Sometimes I get tired. Sometimes I struggle through God’s goodness. But there are glimpses now and then. I am certain, though, that I am accepted by God not because I have everything together, but because of what Jesus has done for me. I think I can rest now.

I know that the God of peace walks with me. But sometimes I don’t feel very peaceful. I think I’m getting there, though.

I just found out that Bugs Bunny ate carrots because Clark Gable ate a carrot while talking to Claudette Colbert in “It Happened One Night.” It wasn’t because bunnies particularly like carrots. In fact, that myth came from Bugs Bunny, not the other way around.

Outside right now it is 109 degrees. Tomorrow it will reach 113. Please pray for our community, if you think about us.

Paul, speaking the very words of God, addresses the church as “my joy and crown.” Did it occur to you that the church causes God to rejoice?

Irenaeus said that the glory of God is a living man. That is profound. God raised us from the dead that we might have life, because we glorify him when we are alive.

When we were children, calling someone a “nimrod” was an insult. It meant a buffoon, a foolish person. As I got older, I wondered where this came from. I remember chuckling as a child at Genesis 10:9. “Like Nimrod, the mighty hunter before the Lord”… This also came from Bugs Bunny. In one early cartoon, Bugs is being hunted by Elmer Fudd. He mocks Elmer by saying, “What a Nimrod!” It was meant as sarcasm. “What a mighty hunter right here!” When we were kids, we didn’t catch the sarcasm.

My wife signed me up for a study at UC Davis Hospital for a new treatment for sciatica. They are going to pay me, if I am accepted. There are two ways I can report this. I can say, “My wife signed me up for a paid scientific study that will maybe help my sciatica.” OR I can say, “My wife wants to sell my body for scientific experimentation.”  I’m not sure which would be more interesting. Words are so interesting, aren’t they?

I truly wish that I had taken courses in linguistics. The study fascinates me.

I don’t know why I’ve been thinking about Looney Toons lately. Maybe the heat is getting to my head.

Find a place where the gospel is proclaimed. Listen to those who tell you about Jesus and what he did for you. It is the only way you will find peace.

I hope you find peace tonight.


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Thoughts while sitting at the meeting of the RCUS Synod

God sends encouragement from unexpected places.

Sometimes a spark of light radiates from an unexpected place and you sigh and remember that God has not forgotten his church.

I can’t believe this guy is still talking.

Photographs irritate me. We all look about the same as last year. Couldn’t we just change the caption?

I think it is about time to crawl out of the miasma of denial, bite the bullet and admit it: Air Supply is awesome.

I can’t believe this guy is still talking.

There has been several comments and committee reports that mention how we need to become more proficient with technology – social media, zoom, conference calls, etc. It is hard to imagine how we can make this possible with so many delegates that haven’t figured out how to turn their phones to silent.

We just heard from the host church that there is currently no running water. He encouraged us to make good decisions with that information. Our president just said, “If it is yellow, let it mellow. If it’s brown flush it down.” Out of every possible thing that we could have expected our president to say during this meeting, this one never once entered my mind.

Prolonged sitting and overcast, humid weather is not good for fibromyalgia. My body feels as if it has been run over by a truck.

I miss my family. I miss my wife. I miss my church.

Abba is also awesome.

I can’t believe this guy is still talking.

Speaking of unexpected things, the Synod struck a blow for Christian liberty – perhaps without even intending to. The hand of God has been with us.

Sometimes a light radiates, the glory of Christ is glimpsed through the gathering clouds…whatever the future brings, the Sun of Righteousness still shines, and he has healing in his wings.

When one plays Beethoven, one is struck at how important the silences are. I believe that everyone would benefit from listening to Beethoven.

Knowing when to wrap things up is a remarkably useful skill.

Take note?

Take note.


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Pensées (March 18)

When a man is given permission to blame his lust on women, he will never be free from lust. The first step to freedom is to confess sin. No one causes anyone to lust.

It is quite sad to me that a young man could sit in church his whole life and not understand how to be free from the bondage of sin. His failure to grasp the gospel cost lives. It always does.

When men are given permission to view those who look or act differently as less than human, blood will flow in the streets. It always does.

Failure to grasp the gospel leads to fear. When fear takes hold of a man, death follows. It always does.

Perfect love casts out fear. What can separate us from the love of God?

We live in a broken and disordered world. We are quite easy to see the brokenness and disorder and wickedness is the others, but quite slow to see it in ourselves.

When a man thinks that someone must be destroyed, banished, run out, or shunned in order to be free from shame and fear, he does not understand the gospel.

The gospel draws us into fellowship with others. Fear destroys and isolates.

Sandstorm by Passenger is my new favorite song.

Jezebel was a real woman in the Bible. She introduced Baal worship to Israel and put to death the true prophets of God. Her name was used in Revelation to refer to the seduction of idolatry away from the one true God. It has nothing to do with either feminism, working outside the home, or divorcing an abusive spouse. We should stop using that term as an insult.

Name-calling is expected of children. But maturity requires that you put it off.

Reviling always leads to death.

The purity culture of the 90s taught a whole generation of young women that their bodies are impure, objects of temptation, the cause of lust, and something to be ashamed of. We are reaping the results.

If you are reading this, I want you to know that you are important. God made you beautiful and worthy of love and dignity. Jesus came to restore that dignity, not heap more shame on you.

Anyone – especially a pastor – that says “Shame on you” is unworthy of the name of pastor, and should repent. Christ came to do away with shame and we are his ministers with his message.

Shame never heals. Shame never produces good fruit. Shame never brings forgiveness. But it is intolerable. The human spirit always will seek to overcome shame by any means available, up to and including murder or suicide.

A culture that preaches shame will result in death. This is the wages of sin. But the gift of God is eternal life. That is our message.

As a pastor, I want everyone who hears me on Sunday KNOW that Jesus died to save sinners and to take away guilt and shame. If they don’t believe, and think the solution to shame is murder, I don’t ever want that to be on me.

I want to be the kind of pastor that people think of speaking to when they are in trouble. When people say, “Don’t let the pastor ever find this out…” I have failed at my job.

The same goes for our jobs as parents and grandparents.

When I was in college, the cafeteria was closed on Sunday nights. We had a pool table in our dorm. My friend and I played pool and the loser had to buy the pizza. I never lost.

It was the only time I ever won a game of pool. I find that fascinating.

Pizza should be used to motivate more often.

I despise exercise. But every morning my wife and I have started walking thirty minutes through the orchards. We talk about everything under the sun. The morning is ours. For the first time, I look forward to “exercise”.

That tells me a little something about the nature of good works and their connection to love…but you will have to think about it.

Bring light and beauty and hope into the broken world of shame and guilt.


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Pensées (brief reflections)

The plums and almonds are blossoming. The wafting smells drive my allergies crazy, but the beauty is worth it. “Where no oxen are, the stable is clean.”

Sometimes, you are dropped right into the middle of man’s total depravity and see what some humans are capable of doing to other humans, and it hits you right in the gut.

The only hope for mankind is the cross of Jesus Christ. This is the exclamation point on God’s verdict on humankind, as well as God’s compassion.

If our only hope is the cross of Christ, why are we as Christians so slow to believe the horrible things that humans do to each other. The history of the world and the verdict of the cross shout loudly from every corner that humans are indeed capable of doing great wickedness.

Humans are also capable of great beauty and great achievements. This makes their wickedness so much more wicked. If humans were not image-bearers of God, sin would not be as ugly as it is.

Today I harvested a bunch of dill and hung it up to dry. The oregano also was ready to harvest, so I gathered the firstfruits of much more to come. My tomato seedlings have sprouted. Man’s wickedness is ugly. But God remembers mercy.

Have you thanked God that he has not yet come in judgment? He has not yet gathered in all of his people, and his compassion has not yet reached an end. This is the astounding mercy of God.

And at the same time, sometimes the longing is more intense than other times.

I have had the privilege to know the stories of a few people. Some of them are the strongest, most courageous, most astounding people I know. I am continually floored by their resilience in what they have survived. This reminds me to be very patient with the ones whose stories I don’t know. You don’t know what they have endured.

I stood in line at a pizza place and ordered my pizza. They fixed it just as I ordered it. It was exactly what I expected. God’s providence is astounding. His hand is not only in that which is unexpected, but also in the ordinary and usual. Think, for a moment, about everything that had to happen for the pizzeria to make a pizza just as I ordered it. It boggles the mind, and none of it is out of God’s control.

When I was a teenager, I was in a pizza joint with my brother. He ordered a pizza. They asked if he wanted anchovies. He said “sure”, not knowing what they were. I have a vivid memory of him shouting “Fish? Fish on pizza?! What kind of monster puts fish on pizza??!”

My brother liked to make a scene.  I love that about him.

There is never any reason for anyone to ever listen to the Steve Miller Band. I tried to get my Alexa to make a note that I never, ever, under any circumstances, want to hear the Steve Miller Band. She said, “I can’t do that.” Useless robot.

Every time a pastor cracks a joke about a woman, another soul shrivels a little bit in despair, withdraws behind their wall, and vows to never, ever speak about her pain to anyone, ever. Pastors, is the joke worth it? When it is replayed on the day of judgement, will it be funny then?

Every time a pastor ridicules or scoffs at someone’s pain, mocks a victim of a crime, asks “what were you wearing” or makes a joke about mental illness, yet another soul shrivels inside and hides behind their wall. Is it worth it?

When you hear what humans do to one another in the dark, you have a hard time getting worked up about so many of the things you used to get worked up about.

Come quickly, Lord Jesus. In wrath, remember mercy.

I’m going to water my flowers now.


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Unconnected thoughts for February 26

Some days the longing for Jesus’ return is more intense than other days. I cry out in my heart. I breathe. I carry on.

My wife is listening to Stealth while she is cooking. It is pretty fabulous.

Yesterday, my back spasmed all day. I stayed down and took muscle relaxants. Then I felt guilty for taking time off. I hate anxiety.

Jesus said that some of his servants will figure he isn’t coming and start to beat the other servants and get drunk and party with drunkards. It seems like this is being fulfilled right in front of our eyes.

Jesus also said that he will avenge his people and cut the oppressor into pieces and cast him into outer darkness.

Whether you are single, married, barren, or full of  children; wherever you are called and whatever you do, the purpose for which you were created is to glorify God and enjoy him forever; to live with him in eternal blessedness to praise and glorify him – beginning in this life. When you praise and glorify the Lord, you are living your best life and doing exactly what you are supposed to be doing.

Idolatry is alive and well. What causes you unrest? Where is your trust? what do you believe will make you happy? What uncleanness will you tolerate to get what you think you want?

I’m learning how to sit with myself and look at what is running through my mind and analyze it. As it turns out, I am not very kind to myself. I am practicing setting my mind on better things, but old habits die hard.

If the one who committed a crime against you is brought to justice, whether by God or by man, the consequences of his actions are not your fault. Never your fault.

Be kind to yourself. If there is sin, repent and be washed clean. For everything else, you are wonderfully made and gifted by God to be exactly who you are. Embrace that and then you can embrace others without fear.


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unconnected thoughts…

Yesterday I watched Ernest and Celestine on Prime Video. It was delightful.

In 1912, Jim Thorpe had his shoes stolen before he competed for the gold in the Olympics. He found two mismatched shoes in the trash, made them fit by adding extra socks, and won two gold medals. You will never be that cool. But you CAN decide to do your best with what God has given you.

Doing your best with honor and dignity is a goal worth striving for.

Today I read this: “I’m sorry for all those who you loved that made you feel like loving you was hard work.” I remembered that time when someone made a speech in front of fellow elders and pastors that used the words, “I love everyone; but Sam Powell is hard to love.” I didn’t know that.

Every new morning, I wake up next to a beautiful and loving woman who never makes me feel like I’m hard to love.

In turn, she is quite easy to love. Love is like that.

When you decide that truth is an acceptable sacrifice to make for the survival of your system, you no longer have a system worth preserving.

When you decide that right and wrong are acceptable sacrifices to make for the survival of your system, you no longer have a system worth preserving.

Bob Seger is my guilty pleasure. My wife puts up with it.

I frequently hear that marriage is hard work and God will sanctify you through that hard work. I have no idea what that means. I have never once thought of marriage as “hard work.”

Speaking of marriage, housework, cooking and dishes have nothing to do with gender roles and have everything to do with being an adult.

A lot of men just need to grow up and learn how to act like adults.

When one is terrified of “losing their place and their nation”, they will do horrible things to each other.

But when your treasure, your place, and your kingdom is in heaven, and your life is hid in Christ at the right hand of God, you are set free to love.


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Random thoughts for February 2nd

What if “Be anxious for nothing” and “Don’t be afraid” weren’t commands, but encouragements? What if we could tell the difference?

Sometimes, one has to come out of the closet with controversial opinions – so here goes: Jerry Lewis isn’t funny. I hate to break it to you.

If you can label someone and then cut them off, it saves you from having to think and engage. This sums up 2020.

Labels are very rarely helpful or edifying or accurate.

Because labels are so misleading, I’ve gotten into the habit of asking people to define what they mean before engaging with the label. What you mean by “liberal” and what I mean by “liberal” might be two different things. This is why engagement, communication and respect are so important.

Engage with ideas; not with labels.

But dehumanizing an opponent is easier than examining our own belief system. That is why it is so popular.

I long for the day when Christians can disagree with one another without labels and without hatred and without fear. It seems to me that this is the definition of love.

You won’t win playing someone else’s game.

The Christian life is a process of change. Christ’s spirit calls us to put off the old man and put on the new. This means that you will not be the same person you were 10 years ago. If you have never changed an opinion, something is wrong.

I don’t long for the “good old days” for they have never existed. I do, however, long for the future when the fulness of God’s kingdom comes.

One great thing about living in 2021 is streaming television. My wife and I are watching “Mad About You”, and old sitcom starring Helen Hunt and Paul Reiser. It is brilliant. Their chemistry is beautiful to watch. And the characters love each other, which is rare for television couples. They are also extremely funny.

I am firmly convinced that the only reason Happy Days was popular was that there was literally nothing else on.

When I was a child, I had a friend that I hung out with. We used spoons to dig roads and tunnels in the dirt and pretend we were civil engineers designing roads for Hot Wheels. I miss doing that.

I once clogged up his toilet and didn’t know how to process that, so I just got on my bike and went home. Sorry, Rick. My bad.

Bob Hope isn’t funny either.

That’s all. Go outside and take a walk.


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Random thoughts for January 30, 2021

When you allow dark thoughts about another believer to fester in your mind, everything that they do becomes another reason to dislike them. Eventually this just turns to hatred. This is contrary to love and impossible to fight.

My wife will sometimes listen to Moroccan music while she cooks. I know that means that Moroccan food is on the menu. Tonight it was a fish stew made with white fish, potatoes, herbs, olives, lemon. That doesn’t do it justice. Imagine seeing the magnificence of the ocean for the first time. Imagine the first time you hear Beethoven resolve tension and introduce a new theme. Imagine a revelation of a long hidden secret. Imagine that majesty, grace and beauty could be made into a stew. If this is what Esau sold his birthright for, he was wrong, but I understand. That is what my wife’s Moroccan fish stew is like.

We all love Bruch’s violin concerto. But his Suite on Russian Themes is breathtakingly beautiful.

I think that the Rothschild’s space laser makes me pee more than I usually do.

Today I heard Kygo’s re-imagining of Donna Summer’s “Hot stuff” and it made me ridiculously happy.

When we were first married, I bought my wife a stuffed lobster for Valentine’s day. When you pushed a button, it danced and sang “Hot Stuff”. I remembered that while I was dancing to Kygo.

I once was overcome with sadness and hopelessness and I wandered outside in the rain. At that moment, God sent a rainbow. I’ll always remember that.

When my wife smiles, it’s a little bit like a rainbow.

I used to have big dreams and big bucket lists. Now, more than anything, I look forward to Sundays. Even sitting outside in the cold while God meets with his people is better than a day feasting in the fine houses of wickedness.

I have a friend that once told me that everyone is just trying to make it through the best that they can. Something in my mind clicked then and I made an effort to give people a break. It is a change of a lifelong pattern.

Once I realized that my neighbor’s viewpoint on current events can’t actually remove me from the peace that I have with God, it became far easier for me to live at peace with them.

You have to listen to people before you know enough to help them.

Speaking of Max Bruch, if you haven’t heard his Third Symphony, you really should.

That’s all.

Think of beautiful things. Meditate on things that make for peace.

Imitate the one who healed the ear; not the one that cut it off.

Good night.

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