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 One of the first passages of scripture I memorized in VBS was the first Psalm. I remember the imagery of the “tree planted by rivers of water.” This was especially significant in Nebraska because there were few trees and also during the 1930s there was a severe drought.

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Did you hear about the strange contraption that washed up on a Florida beach recently? It was this big plastic bubble with flotation devices attached to it. It belongs to a man who gets inside of it and propels it along by what some refer to as walking or running on water.

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Fear: “an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain, or a threat.” We live in an age characterized by fear. Fear can be helpful, warning us in advance that something is amiss and keeping us from danger, or it can be debilitating.

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The Psalmist expressed the wonders of creation in a unique way in these two couplets regarding the Almighty, “In whose hand are the depths of the earth; the peaks of the mountains are His also. The sea is His, for it was He who made it; and His hands formed the dry land” Psalm 95:3-5.

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Recently we took one of our grandsons with us to a church conference in Pigeon Forge, Tenn. During some free time for enjoying the local attractions, we, along with the teenage kids of another pastor, tackled one of those escape room adventures.

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One day I opened a package of brand-name peanut butter sandwich crackers we had left over from a recent trip. As I lifted the first cracker from the pack, the two pieces separated to reveal that there was no peanut butter in the middle to hold it together. 

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Ecclesiastes 3:1 reads “To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.” The chapter goes on for many verses with counsel such as “there is a time to grow”(3:6).

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It is common to turn on the news and hear of another case of wanton violence. Nightly it seems we hear of multiple shootings. The underlying media message is that if we could only get rid of the guns, the violence would stop. But would it?

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Matthew 13 tells of a large crowd that assembled by the Sea of Galilee to hear Jesus speak. After His discourse, His disciples asked why He used parables. He explained it with these words (v. 15): “For the heart of this people has become dull, and with their ears they scarcely hear... ”

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This weekend we celebrate Independence Day. We celebrate the vision of freedom that we citizens strive to achieve with those words from the Declaration of Independence: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”

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Every time we turn around it seems like we’re hearing about another incident of road rage, air rage, or a person reacting with an outburst of anger in some other setting.

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Over these past few weeks, I have been addressing the subject of how we have gotten where we are as people of the world. In my files I have entitled all these articles as “Desire and Ruin Part (and then the number).” The foundation for these articles is Genesis 1-3. I encourage you to read it whether or not you believe it.

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It seems so simple. Jesus came to show us the all-embracing love of God, that sets us free from our past, from our ignorance, from our divisions. Why do we as a church then fall back into attitudes and behaviors that deny the God-given worthiness of all people?

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In July 2007 our nation paid tribute to a lady who taught us a new respect for the environment, Lady Bird Johnson. Among the issues that she made us aware of was the visual clutter of uncontrolled billboards and the tons of litter thrown from passing vehicles along our nation’s highways.

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When I was teaching art, one of the most important lessons I tried to get across to my art students was to truly see what I am having them to draw. There seems to be a giant step for some students between “looking” and truly seeing an object.

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I have mentioned in previous articles that I believe the Genesis narrative to be historically factual. You may disagree with that. I encourage you to read on because the account of what we call the fall of man is at least instructive for us today.

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The wildflower featured today is not common in our area, though it is not classified as rare. As the Psalmist said that God alone is his rock, this wildflower is most likely to be found nestled in crevices of rocks in hardwood groves

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It seems that an increasing number of organizations and businesses are jumping on the bandwagon of celebrating June as “Pride Month.” Since when has pride become such a virtue?

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My wife and I recently watched a particular movie for the first time even though it’s been out for over a decade. Although the most prominent actor in the film is Richard Gere, the real star of the story is a dog named Hachi.

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Love cannot exist in the absence of truth nor can it exist in the absence of judgement. The same Bible that says “God is love" also says God is just.

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After some recent computer issues, a diagnostic check revealed that my hard drive was failing and there was nothing I could do about it. The device continued to work at times, although very slowly. Periodically a warning would be displayed of “imminent failure.” 

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I find it interesting the people who do not subscribe to the truthfulness of the New Testament or the Deity of Jesus very quickly appeal to John 8:7, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her,” as soon as someone challenges some sinful behavior or desire they have.

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Luke 6:44 is appropriate for the wildflower we study here. It reads, “For each tree is known by its own fruit. For men do not gather figs from thorns, nor do they pick grapes from a briar bush.” 

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This Sunday we as the church will celebrate Pentecost. According to Acts 2, on Pentecost the Holy Spirit came upon the disciples like tongues of fire and inspired them to speak in different languages, so that the crowds that had gathered in Jerusalem each heard the good news of Jesus in their own language.

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Psalm 65:11 is especially fitting for the wildflower we examine today. In addressing the Almighty God, the psalmist said, “Thou hast crowned the year with Thy bounty, and Thy paths drip with fatness.”

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Our 1-year-old grandson has been aptly described by his mom as a climber. I’ve witnessed his aptitude along those lines firsthand on several occasions, the latest when we were together last weekend.

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For the last two weeks I have been writing on the subject of love. Many people wrongly feel that love is refusing to have standards; a live-and-let-live philosophy. To you I ask a simple question. If a toddler is playing in the street, is it love to simply let him or her do what they want, or is it love to whisk them from the area they want to play in and move them to a place of safety? Not being a lawyer I can’t say this with legal certainty, but I suspect that, even if I am not that playing in the street child’s parent, if I saw danger coming and did nothing I would end up being held criminally or at least civilly liable.

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We are quick to complain about those leaving the church. But do we stop and ask why? We are quick to complain about what is going on in the world. But do we stop and ask how we have contributed to it? And do we stop and ask what are we going to do about it?

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