Series 1

Can Man

The oversized car crept into the nearly abandoned park. Distracted from my early morning on-the-go Bible study, I watched as the driver sprang from his well-worn ride. He looked a little worn himself.

He quickly went from trash can to trash can searching for aluminum pop cans. Their ten cent deposit, which is a nuisance to many people, was the can man’s mission.

I thought–“I bet he lives in his car.”  I’ve seen his type before.


In anticipation of the can man asking for money, I had prepared a guarded response.

He immediately approached me.                                                        

The can man plowed right into telling me his story–he was excited. He told me he was collecting the cans for his kid’s college education one dime at a time. He was determined: “My kids are going to college; they’re definitely going to college.”  His next words left me hanging from the gallows of my condemning thoughts: “I don’t care what people think.”

Arguably the most wrongly judged person in history, Jesus, said “Stop judging by mere appearance.”

Guilty . . . my misjudgment still grips, taunts and thankfully reminds me.

Jesus concluded His thought: “Make a right judgment.” In less than two minutes of conversation with the Can Man my compass of judgment pointed to truth-- right judgment.

Go for it Can Man!


Stupid Haircut

“Your haircut looks stupid,” my seventeen year old friend said as he hopped into my car. I kind of liked it. It was a utilitarian quarter-inch buzz cut.

I scrunched my face, “What do you mean stupid?” I reminded him that I’d seen him with a similar cut. My friend explained. Besides the fact that he was better looking than me, I didn’t have any sideburns-- zero. The missing two patches of hair the size of a postage stamp sent me into the stupid haircut category.  Yet I was so close.

Like many things in life—so close.

The innate desire to have a God-life, a spiritual life is shelved in the so-close department of many people’s lives. Their thirst is never quenched because they never reach out to grab the refreshment their souls need.

Someone told me recently, “I haven’t found a church yet.”  Have you looked? He’s thought about looking; he’s thought about seeking God. He’s thought about reading his Bible. So close.

God notices. The Scriptures say: “God looks down from heaven upon people to see if there are any who understand Him, any who seek Him.”

I think my young friend was right. I grew sideburns. After all, I don’t need to toss another clump on the so-close heap in my life.

And you? God’s looking. And waiting.


Grace Withers

It wasn’t a booming, “Thus saith the LORD” but there was a still small voice saying, “stop.”

I had commuted past the cemetery dozens of times in the previous few months. Located on a tree skirted nub overlooking lush fields and a farm pond, it seemed like an idyllic final resting place.

Strolling the tiny cemetery, communing with God, I read each grave marker. Still no distinct sense of why my journey was interrupted. So I concluded God was offering me a respite from my always-on-the-go schedule. The weather was absolutely perfect; I felt at peace. I was thankful for the break.

Wait. I missed four grave stones in the far corner.

When I looked down on the second one, my heart started beating a little faster. The tombstone’s “1919-1919” etching spoke of anguished tears cried on the spot I stood. Is there any greater pain than losing a baby? Yet, God used her to give me a message.

Her name: Grace Withers.

“God, You’re right, grace withers.” We let Your grace, Your divine influence on our hearts, slip, slide, and totally exit our lives.

The antidote to our grace withering is grace growing.

One of Jesus’ closest disciples, Peter, wrote a letter to struggling Christians of his era. He knowingly challenged “Grow in grace.”

My friend Robert, who was a new Christian, gave me his plucked-out-of-the-dictionary, untheological definition of Biblical grace. “Smooth refined motion.”

Pretty good, Robert. Can I add? Let us grow in smooth refined motion-- thoughts, words, and deeds.



Bill grinned, “Jesus is washed up.”  His comment on the painting launched my indignant mind into a multitude of directions to offer a quick counter response. But I was silent. We turned, taking another look at the unsigned, untitled painting at the art gallery.

The splashy watercolor depicted a laundromat scene. In the painting a mom and son were standing inches away from an array of front load, glass doored washers. Mom diligently focused on her laundering duties at the upper level washers, while her son stood eye level to the lower washers.

The scene portrayed one peculiarity. The son stared intently at one of the glass faced washers as if he has looking into a mirror. Instead of his reflection, there was the image of Jesus-- He appeared to be inside the washer.

Even though mom and son were standing close, they seemed to be in different worlds.   

Just like them, my companion and I stood close; yet we were a million miles apart in our spiritual worlds. I am a follower of Jesus. He is not.

The Bible talks about this great gulf: “An unspiritual man does not accept the spiritual things, things of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them.”

For my companion, who I consider a good friend, his mind has not pierced the part of my world which gives my life substance and meaning. Without Jesus in my life, I would be washed-up.

I turned to my friend and offered my appraisal of the painting: “Jesus washes away sins.”



“Are they polarized?” I asked the optometrist helping me select new sunglasses.

Good, that’s what I want.

Later I ran a dictionary word search through my brain. “What does polarized mean?” Besides some vague conceptual thoughts, I was blind to any useable meaning.

Yet in my good-better-best conquest, I instinctively knew I wanted polarized sunglasses.

The word “polarized” stimulated my “desire” glands to salivate. From trinkets to twenty-year mortgage purchases, I’m vulnerable.

So are you.

Rich, wise Solomon who lived thousands of years before the mall experience, understood.  His words: “As goods increase so do those who consume them, and what benefit are they to the owner except to feast his eyes on them.”

I bought the sunglasses. They’re great.

But I know I need to guard what I feast my eyes on. I need to remove my polarized I-want-it sunglasses and see the light of the truth. I need to understand what’s really important-- today, tomorrow and for eternity.

What do I need to keep my eyes on? What does my life really stand for? Solomon had the prescription when he said, “Stand in awe of God.”

Stand with me.