Series 4

Wounded Deer


Our neighbor called: “There’s an injured deer in your yard.” From my office I was able to watch the deer as it moved to within 12 feet of my window. The lower quarter of its right front leg appeared to be nearly severed. An up-close view of it licking its wound gripped me with concern for the pain the deer was experiencing.


A couple of days later, my wife and I gathered around the dinner table with some of her friends. Four girls ranging in ages from 7 to 12.

I knew their stories. As my eyes circled the table, I thought: “How much pain are they experiencing?” Maria, will probably never see her father; he’s a wanted man who tried to murder her mom. Daleesha’s “out there” behavior shows magnified symptoms of fetal alcohol syndrome, Jennifer, has moved several times recently including a stay at the homeless shelter and now lives in one of the worst neighborhoods around. And Tiffany’s every action screams, “Attention starved!”

As Nancy and I talked about the girls after they were gone, she commented: “They’re wounded deer.”

A couple of days later the deer wandered into the back woods. My deer hunting friend Mark said, “It’ll be O.K.; they’re tough.”

How about the wounded deer we ate supper with?

As a throng of commotion swirled around Jesus, he stopped everything to focus his attention on some children. The Bible says: “Jesus took the children in His arms, put his hands on them and blessed them-- He spoke kind, encouraging, affirming words to them.”

And maybe it would be something like this if Jesus blessed our guests. “I love you. You have so much potential. God has a plan for your life, trust Him to guide you. I can help you; ask Me. I’ll be there for you. I care what happens to you. I bless you beautiful children.”

God, help me bless children, especially the wounded ones that the swirl of life blinds me from seeing.



Ricky cut me off as I was making my way to the exit. He had a theological question. He informed me he had asked 5 other pastors his question. Not one response had satisfied him. I thought, “This could be tough, I hope can answer him.”

Ricky said, “What does the word Bible mean?”

My mind immediately started to search, bring back memories of sitting in Bible college classes. As I attempted to stir up Greek and Hebrew words in my brain, Ricky seemed impatient. “The letters that make up the word!” B.I.B.L.E.

I smiled—“Basic Instruction Before Leaving Earth.”

His just-won-Jeopardy excitement was contagious. Then he told me the story of how this “truth” was revealed to his dad two years ago in a dream. “We wrote it on a plaque; it’s hanging on the wall.”

Interesting . . .

Basic Instruction Before Leaving Earth, a catchy acronym. But is it true?

Hebrews 4:12 says: “The word of God (the Bible) is living and active, full of power; sharper than any two edged-sword.” For many people the Bible is a gentle butter-knife spreading of God into their life—basic. Yet meant to be more. The same verse tells us the Bible slices into our lives—“It judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.”

Twitching with delight, Ricky continued his story. He asked his dad why God would reveal the B.I.B.L.E.-truth to him. He told Ricky how he had made a decision to become a follower of Jesus, “And yesterday I took the meat cleaver and chopped up all my cigarettes.”

Ricky’s dad got both. The basic: he became a follower of Jesus Christ. And he got the power to make a cutting change in his life. The double edged sword part. Chop, chop. 


Deep Water

The conversation turned quickly. I was in deep water. I enjoy talking to Jon who has a doctorate degree in physics—a brilliant research scientist. Yet he can easily talk over my head.

We discussed a movie about Moses and the Jewish people I had recently viewed. I believe the movie’s miraculous Biblical portrayal: “By faith the people passed through the Red Sea on dry land.”  By faith.

Jon had recently seen a movie on the same subject. The very way he said, “Educational television,” informed me that his movie version was superior. He didn’t dispute the Bible and the fact of the occurrence. He just needed to inform me of some fresh scientific facts.

I was about to be educated; I was in deep water.

He came to the crux of the issue informing me of a supposed misspelling in the Biblical text. Moses and the Jewish people actually passed through the Reed Sea not the Red Sea.

Oh. And the Reed Sea was only ankle deep. A wind blew the water hard enough to make a dry path allowing 3 million Jews to easily scamper away from the pursuing Egyptian army. Not a faith event but a windy day.

My faith held firm; I still believe in the miracles. Jon basically accepted the biblical account; it just needed fine tuning because of the “unfortunate” spelling error.

The Bible says: “But when the Egyptians tried to pass through the Red Sea they were drowned.” I asked Jon about the largest, most powerful army in the world at the time: “How did the Egyptian army drown in ankle deep water?”

Jon grinned, scrunched his eyes, was silent for a moment-- “I didn’t think of that.”

Without faith, a person encounters many I-didn’t-think-of-that moments in life. Without faith you’ll be in deep water.


Nothing Good Happened

“I prayed to Jesus” Jose said. “Nothing good happened.”  He was cold, hungry, confused and almost in tears.

He had wandered in off the street, nearly exhausted—friendless. The Spanish signs in the window seemed welcoming.

He quickly spilled out his story of hopelessness to the lady working at what appeared to be a second hand clothing store.

Promised a job, he had been transported a few hours from his home. His new job: 13 hour days making $3 an hour. The people who helped him find the job now insisted he pay them an extravagant finder’s fee. And after 5 days of work, he received no pay. He was hopeless. The night before he had slept in an unheated garage in below freezing weather.  His expectations shattered.

Jose didn’t realize he had arrived at a Christian ministry. The lady behind the counter said a silent prayer and smiled: “No, don’t give up faith.” 

Conversation with Jose revealed he had a lot of problems, a lot of failing.

The Bible says: “We who are strong, of robust faith, ought to bear with the failings of the weak-- not to please ourselves.”

Over the next 2 days Christians came to his aid. Jose was given a place to sleep, more food than he could eat, and a little money.

The Bible continues: “Everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have continuing hope.”

As Jose sat on his motel room bed; Santiago, one of the people offering aid, knelt on the floor sharing many scriptures with him. Then they prayed an eternal prayer of hope to Jesus. Through teary eyes Jose said, “I have such a peace in my heart.”

Something good happened.


Snoring in the Pews

His snoring was loud, guttural, and distinctive. Lee, who I had brought to church, was embarrassing me. Sitting two rows from the front, I thought: “I wonder if the pastor heard him.”

The elder’s wife glanced back at me. She smiled-- rather graciously. A teenager across the aisle gave me a roll-your-eyes smirk. I could only guess what the people behind me thought. Then my wife gave me “a look”--“Poke him.”

I did, once. Not liking his sleepy-eyed glare, I stopped. Lee nodded, snored, and intermittently jerked his head. Then he would listen briefly and continue the irritating snoring.

I take my church experience seriously. I want to experience God. I want to worship God.  I want to have my life changed . . . I want, I want.

Yeah, I started hearing from God—right through the snoring. The Bible verse “Humble yourself before the Lord and He will lift you up in due time,” whispered into my mind. 

While concerned if other people were distracted by the snoring, I humbled myself. I decided not to care about what people thought of me. A formidable obstacle in life—what do people think of me?

Driving home, Lee said, “I’m sorry I kept falling asleep.” That’s O.K.  I was glad he went with me knowing he attends church less than once a month.

I’m concerned about Lee’s spiritual life.

A couple of weeks later, my wife saw Lee. Again he mentioned his falling asleep, adding, “Every time I woke up, it was like the preacher was talking right to me.” And then he told her he was attending church closer to home more regularly.

God showed me; the Sunday service was about God and Lee . . . not me. I was lifted up.