Category Archives: Reflections


My heart hurts right now. I have been working my way through the nearly 300-page report authorized by the Southern Baptist Convention last June that details the systematic and purposeful deceit of our convention leadership to perpetuate predatory sexual abuse in our institutions and churches. I can see why these leaders were so unwilling to even let the study begin. Let me say this is not a problem of a few employees and elected leaders committing adultery. This is far worse.  This is a report documenting how, for at least 20 years, victims and survivors of sexual aggression, male and female, were demeaned, lied to, and falsely characterized as charlatans or harlots, including young children. The call for a database of reported abusers has been turned down starting in 2007, by stating that because of the autonomy of the local church, it was impossible to create such a database. The newly revealed SBC in-house database that was established years ago is being released this week, highly redacted. There are some links provided below for you to see the scope of the problem for yourself. 

As I have been trying to write this heartbreaking story, I learned of the mass shooting at the Uvalde, Texas elementary school. Why is it republican legislators can ban books deemed inappropriate for children, or prohibit certain subjects to be taught to children, but not the weapons of war being used against children and their teachers in school, or people shopping in a grocery store, or worshippers at church?

I am heartbroken at the level of greed that routinely drives preachers, politicians, and corporations to immoral and unconscionable actions. The “lone gunman” never acts alone. He, and they are mostly a He, have been radicalized, preyed upon, or encouraged in their evil actions. It is more than a mental health issue, it is perversion of all that is right, moral, and honorable. Leaders without a moral center have no qualms about doing wicked things in the name of Jesus. They take courage in gathering other smooth-talking hucksters into their circles of greed and perversion. (See Psalm 1) While we are all sinners in need of forgiveness, in times like these I take comfort in Scriptures like Galatians 6:7-10, and Psalm 147:3-5.

Keep healthy. Pray mightily. Enjoy your life today. God heals the brokenhearted. And let’s experience the love and power of God together.


Here are three website links that are helpful in understanding the Southern Baptist Convention’s authorized investigation.

The full Report – 

An Analysis –

A Rebuttal  – 

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Wonder-Working Prayer

This is a true account of the power of prayer. Dorothy prays about everything, including misplaced keys or a bottle of nail polish. Little things in prayer can become big things in life. Before cell phones, in the early 1980s, Dorothy and I were visited by her cousin David, and his wife Nina Jo, from Houston. They were passing through Tulsa on their way to spend some time with friends at Grand Lake. They had not been to Tulsa before. On the way to show them the church, we heard the news that a stronger than expected hurricane was making landfall in the Houston area. Concerned, they called their college-aged son who was home alone at the house. He reported that flood waters had risen to the top of the bar ditches in the streets and the water was creeping up into the yard towards the house. Alarmed, our guests decided they needed to cancel their trip and head back to Houston. This is when the wonder-working praying began in earnest.

They had no idea how to contact their friends at the lake. All they knew was their friends were from Bartlesville and were at a borrowed cabin of their neighbors. We only knew one family in Bartlesville that had a cabin at the lake, so we gave them a call. “Yes,” they had lent their cabin to that couple. The only problem was the cabin had no telephone, but they knew a lady down the way who had a phone; however, they did not know her number. Did I mention that the telephone operators were all on strike that week? Given the name of the lady in the woods, Dorothy proceeded to call directory assistance anyway. When she began telling the reason for the call, the amazed operator said, “Dorothy, is that you?” The substitute operator was related to a member of our church. She found the phone number for the lady in the woods. That lady graciously relayed the message to the right people. The trip was cancelled, and everyone made it safely home. The hurricane moved on.

God answers every kind of prayers, so pray about everything. And nothing is too small, or too big, for God’s handiwork to be seen. 

Keep healthy. Pray mightily. Enjoy your life today. God works wonders. And let’s experience the love and power of God together.

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Feel Better

What makes you feel better? I was feeling pretty good on my Thursday before Mother’s Day as I drove to the church in typical Tulsa traffic. I was a car or two back when the light turned green. I barely crossed the intersection at 21st Street northbound on Yale Avenue when the cars ahead of me just stopped for no apparent reason. The cars in the other lane stopped also. There seemed to be no accident. No emergency vehicles coming or going. Then I glimpsed the issue and I immediately felt better. I saw a goose slowly walking west across all the traffic. She was followed in procession by 5 fuzzy gray goslings and another goose gently urging everyone forward. The goose family was making its way across the busy street headed for the waterpark. They all stepped up on the center median and my lane started forward. I noticed the cars headed south were also stopping to let the little family proceed. I realized a few minutes later that I was smiling while driving in traffic! 

I discovered I was feeling better even when I was not feeling bad at all. Over these past couple of years a few little bad habits slipped into my days. I sat around a lot more and gained a pound or two or three. I started watching too much breaking news and listening to whining opinions about it. My sleep patterns got messy staying up too late and sleeping in too long. It did not take long to feel grumpy, bored, or restless. Time for a little self-care and blessings awareness. (See 1 Thessalonians 5:16-24)

What makes you feel a little bit better? I glass of iced tea on a humid afternoon. A rush of cool air when walking through the door. People stopping their cars to let the geese get safely to the other side. A quick nap. A good night’s sleep. The welcome home from your dog or cat. Little everyday actions can make us all feel a little better, even when we are not feeling down at all. 

Keep healthy. Pray mightily. Enjoy your life today. Feel better. And let’s experience the love and power of God together.

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The Mt. Everest Challenge

The first famous person I ever shook hands with had climbed Mt. Everest. In fact, by the time I met him, he had stood on the highest peak in the world and at the geographic South Pole. Sir Edmund Hillary was coming to town and my mother needed my help. 

My mother was a part of the program committee that invited the famed explorer to be their luncheon speaker. The event was sponsored by World Book Encyclopedia, and my mother had joined the team as a sales representative. My role was to play the part of a newspaper boy and hand out copies of the Miami Herald. You know, “Read all about it, Edmund Hillary Conquers Mt. Everest.” My grandfather was the advertising manager for the paper, so my mother persuaded her father to have some mock front pages printed up with the headline on it. These were placed over the real front pages of that day’s paper. I remember Sir Edmund’s surprised laughter when I burst into the room to say my lines and pass out the papers, one to a table. I got to skip junior high school that day and to ask him one question at the end of his speech.

In his talk that day, the adventurer spoke of the need to face one’s challenges, to risk all if need be, and the importance of the Sherpas (the support team) to help one make it to the top. Hillary said he would not have made the summit without Tenzing Norgay. During the question and answer period I asked my burning question: Did you see a Yeti? No, he replied. He had come to the conclusion that a Yeti, or the Abominable Snowman, was a fiction of the local imaginations. I was disappointed. I wanted it to be real.

Some years later Edmund Hillary flew to the top of the world with Neil Armstrong, the first to step onto the moon, where together they stood at the North Pole. He was the first person to stand on Mt. Everest and both global poles. He gave much of his time and energy after that adventure to improving the quality of life for the Sherpas and the people of Nepal. Sounds like a personal challenge even greater than Mt. Everest.

 Keep healthy. Pray mightily. Enjoy your life today. Face your challenge. And let’s experience the love and power of God together.

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One Love, One Mission

I was nearly run over by a careening car as I was crossing a street in Ft. Worth, Texas many years ago. The main thing I remember about the car was its bumper sticker theology proudly proclaiming: I’m Bound for the Promised Land. I thought that was fine for him, and that he would likely make it very soon. Bumper sticker theology is what I call those signs and sayings people place on their cars and Facebook walls. We seem to have a need to tell everyone our viewpoint through a clever sound bite. I see the good in that sometimes.

Walking near the church one day I came upon a very honest bit of bumper sticker theology. The sign on the car’s rear window read:

I saw it

I wanted it

I threw a fit

And I got it.

That is materially, psychologically, relationally, and spiritually very revealing. My mind started to conjure all types of stories concerning this person as a spouse, as a child, as a parent, as an employee or even as a church member. I wonder if this person has ever met the “What part of ‘No’ don’t you understand” person—they’re probably married to each other, of course.

If you were to ask our oldest grandson, Carter, to name his favorite restaurant, he would say, Raising Cane’s. He loves their chicken and their sauce. Raising Cane’s advertises they have one motto and one mission. Their motto is One Love. The one love is fried chicken. They only serve fried chicken pieces and one set of sides. Their one mission is to serve the public well. Jesus has a similar plan for us: Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind…And love your neighbor as yourself.  (Matthew 22:36-40). One Love. One Mission. 

Keep healthy. Pray mightily. Enjoy your life today. Live your theology. And let’s experience the love and power of God together.

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I must admit that I always have mixed emotions when reading the bible prophecies about the end times. It is not that I do not understand what the prophets are saying, it is that I do. My hope in the completion of God’s glorious Day is tempered by the sadness and downright awfulness of Judgment. The last chapter of Isaiah is one such passage—judgment and hope mixed together. But I always got one word wrong in reading this chapter.

I gave up preaching from the King James Version (KJV) many years ago because of the outdated language. I still use the majestic language of the KJV at funerals and on some special occasions. I found myself spending too much time within Sunday sermons translating Elizabethan English into the American vernacular. I have an affinity for the New American Standard Version (NASV) but found that the New International Version (NIV) hit the right tone for my preaching. Clarity in our words helps us avoid confusing others with insider jargon or religious speech.

Once again while reading Isaiah 66, I came across the one odd word in the bible that I probably misread repeatedly. When I read it properly for the first time (in 2013!) I thought maybe it was a misprint in the text. That happened in “The Wicked Bible,” the 1631 King James Bible where the printers failed to include the word “not” in the seventh commandment, the one about adultery. Little words can make a big difference. 

This odd word is only found in Isaiah chapter 66:12. In an extended metaphor about a nursing mother and her child, the prophet tells of a future joyous time when “you will nurse and be carried on her arm and dandled on her knees.” I am certain that I always read it as dangled. Turns out the word is translated from the Hebrew as dandled in all the standard bible translations. Check your favorite Bible. Dandled is past tense for “move up and down.” Some very recent paraphrases are beginning to use the more meaningful language, “bounced on her knees.”  Now I understand.

Keep healthy. Pray mightily. Enjoy your life today. Words matter. And let’s experience the love and power of God together.

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Fainting in Church

The only time I have ever fainted was in church on an Easter Sunday morning. I was about 13-years-old. While not all of the details are clear I do remember the highlights of my embarrassment. My whole family sat together in church as was our custom.  During one of the Easter hymns, I fell over sideways into the pew. I was next to one of my parents who quietly took over the situation. Apparently since I was colorless, they roused me and gave me a Smith Bros cough drop. It worked. I made it through the rest of the service that morning, but I was the topic of teasing by my younger sisters for quite some time.

  Easter Sunday always held a special place in our family life. My parents were married on April 25th on Easter Sunday afternoon in 1943. My father wore his Navy uniform and my mother wore a simple dress with a corsage. The church was already filled with Easter lilies and lots of other flowers. So each time our family went to church for Easter our parents always reflected on their joyous wedding day. Poetically, my mother died in her sleep on their 60th wedding anniversary weekend and Dad died a few months later. Easter was interwoven into their hearts and their love.

  Easter has always been about joy overcoming sorrow, love overcoming sin, and life overcoming even death itself. The Cross demonstrated to us the full extent of God’s love with words such as, “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.” Jesus died and was buried, but on the third day, our Easter, He arose! 

  I have been blessed all of my life to be able to go to church every week with my family and the people of faith who are like family to me. Every now and then something embarrassing happens, but that is part of life and living with each other. Today the preciousness of Easter fills my heart to overflowing. 

Keep healthy. Pray mightily. Enjoy your life today. Celebrate Easter. And let’s experience the love and power of God together.

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The Walking Stick

I have accumulated several canes and walking sticks over the years. I keep them in a large bucket along with a few fishing poles. I pull a walking stick out each time I venture out into the neighborhood. I have a metal cane that was handed out one year by the pipefitter’s union at the fair. It’s an actual pipe that was fitted with a plastic cap on both ends. I inherited a cane from my grandmother. She bought it in Haiti on her biggest adventure—a  cruise with her bridge club friends.  Her cane has a carved handle shaped like a horse’s neck and head. The body of the cane was made from various pieces of wood, stained and hand-painted with black designs of fish, birds and the aforementioned horsehead. My oldest cane was given to me by the family of a church member born in the 1890’s. It is a typical cane that men carried everywhere they went in the 1930’s and 40’s. 

I began packing a foldable cane in my luggage when I traveled overseas at the suggestion of a missionary. He felt it was wise to carry a cane when walking alone in foreign cities, just to have something that might cause would be thieves or hungry dogs to choose someone else.  It is also good advice for walking in the neighborhood. One time, after trimming our ornamental crabapple tree, I decided to make my own cane from a nice straight branch. I was overzealous with my knife, and it came up too short. I donated it to the church costume closet for the children’s Christmas programs. Every shepherd needs a staff.

I came across my ideal walking stick while on a personal retreat at Camp Tulakogee. I spotted just the right-sized limb from a recently felled tree by my cabin. It even had a decent fork at the top. I worked on this walking stick for months. I skinned the bark and trimmed down the remains of the small branches. I whittled the tricky knots and sanded it all smooth. I was not allowed to do any of this in the house. Finally, I put a few coats of clear acrylic finish over the entire stick. It is my favorite walking stick. 

We had a dear senior lady in our church who was self-conscious the first time she brought a cane to church. She told me with a wink that day, “I’m just practicing for my old age.” By the way, the church has all kinds of canes and walkers available free to anyone who wants one.

Keep healthy. Pray mightily. Enjoy your life today. Keep walking. And let’s experience the love and power of God together.

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Consider the Birds of the Air

We bought a new patio table and chairs early last year. It took so long to “come in” that we only were able to use it once before winter set in. The birds have really enjoyed playing in it and on it. A couple of pairs of doves use it as their shelter in the time of storms, when they are not roosting on the back steps. Of course, I feed the birds.

The sparrow house is now occupied by black and gray dark-eyed sparrows. Our pair of mallard ducks have returned, or at least the next generation. We have no water feature in our yard, yet they check-in every day during the nesting time to rest in the shade and enjoy the bird seed. Basically, they are just following my back porch example. But all is not at harmony by the bird dish. 

A scrawny young squirrel with an already chewed tail has discovered what he must call Squirrel Food Heaven. He loves our bird food dish. He spends as much time as he can right in the middle of it all. I try to discourage him. Nevertheless, he returns. I resorted to buying a special anti-squirrel birdseed, Sizzle N’ Heat, made with chili peppers. The bag reads, “Squirrels Taste the Heat, Birds Don’t!” Save your money. The squirrel eats the parts he wants, the birds are smart enough to leave it all alone. We have crows; three great big, chicken-sized crows who scavenger the area like a motorcycle gang. Lately one of the crows has been sneaking off to spend a little time with the doves, sparrows, and ducks at our bird feeder. The squirrel is not happy about it. 

I was surprised to see the crow land a few feet from the squirrel one morning at breakfast. I was prepared for a royal battle. The crow sized up the squirrel. The squirrel looked over at the crow and kept on eating. The crow, rather than presenting a menacing presence, began to “sneak up” on the squirrel by turning his body sideways and hopping over to the dish in which sat the squirrel. It was not an impressive or effective maneuver. The squirrel hissed at the crow, driving him back. The crow has since discovered that the squirrel is not always around. 

 Keep healthy. Pray mightily. Enjoy your life today. Read Matthew 6:26. And let’s experience the love and power of God together.

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The Anguish of Our Lent

NOTE: This is adapted from an article Bro. Darryl wrote for the Center for Congregational Ethics, for March 23, 2022, based on the daily lectionary reading of Psalm 39, entitled “The Anguish of Our Lent.”

Based on Psalm 39

No one chooses anguish, yet here we are. The anguish of Ukraine ushered in our Lenten season. We see the constant stream of images of the death and terror of the innocent by weapons of war and mass destruction. Millions of families are torn apart, ripped from their homes to flee to another world, or forced to stay and fight to the bitterest of endings. We turn our eyes away from the anguish, but it does not the stop the pain. In today’s reading, the psalmist chose a path of silence, lest he say too much in his anger and grief. Suffering in silence. Suffering alone. Not speaking to anyone. Not speaking to God. “But when I was silent and still, not even saying anything good, my anguish increased.” 

Anguish is always accompanied by the whispers of despair. Despair leads us down the darkest of paths. When grief is the loudest voice in the room, we have endless questions with no simple answers. The psalmist cries, “Show me, O Lord, my life’s end.” What is the point of my life? Then he remembers that life is already too short. “But now, Lord, what do I look for? My hope is in you.” With that declaration, the psalmist honestly unleashes his anger toward God by finally speaking out, “…for you are the one who has done this.” Why does God not make it all stop? An honest conversation with God, and trusted others, begins the healing. Anguish without hope is despair.

The inscription at the heading of Psalm 39 implies that this personal lament of anguish was to be sung as a corporate act of worship. Can you imagine singing a song like this on Sunday morning? We see the images of the Ukrainian people worshipping in bombed churches and refugee shelters. It is a reminder that, strong as we may think we are, the people of faith need healthy opportunities to express their own anguish, grief, and anger together.

How are we listening for the emotional silence of those around us? How are we providing opportunities for honest conversations for the anguished and distressed? How do we acknowledge the anguish of today in our Lenten worship?

Our hope of mercy and justice is built on God’s past faithfulness. We know about Easter.

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