A Curse or a Blessing?

I’m not like my adoptive father in very many ways, but he sure hit that old cliched nail on the head about not liking telephones.

No wonder. As a minister, he was always being interrupted by otherwise well-intended church members who didn’t realize how much time and concentration it took to prepare two sermons a week–he rarely reused a sermon–and an in-depth Bible study for the Wednesday night prayer service.

No matter whether he was at church or at home, he couldn’t very well refuse to talk to a caller. But he sure didn’t have to like it.

I’m not sure whether he ever said this, but I’ll always associate this with him. “If I get to Heaven and find telephones there, I’m asking for a transfer to the other place.” A bit of an exaggeration, but that makes the point quite well.

I’m not a minister, and I’m not subject to the number and variety of calls he couldn’t get away from. But I still hate telephones, and it’s not just because of my father’s dislike of them.

When I graduated from college and got out on my own, I probably wouldn’t have had a phone except for not being able to call in sick without one. I didn’t get sick very often,however, so I rarely needed it for that purpose. And I don’t recall using it for very much of anything else.

I’d promised to write my parents once a week. Honestly, I often struggled to find something to say. If long distance had been free, maybe I would’ve called instead and let them do most of the talking. Oh, well…

After marrying my first wife, the phone got used a lot. Especially with the in-laws living far away. Unfortunately, long distance still wasn’t free.

Cell phones came along far enough that we finally felt we could afford one, and I thought we needed one for emergencies. Even though the cost of extra minutes added up to more than the cost of the phone itself, my wife saw it as useful for everyday calling.

When she and I parted ways, I decided to buy a cell phone–mostly for emergencies away from home. But I still had a house phone, too.

I don’t know if I rarely use the cell phone because I’ve never gotten over my lifelong dislike of phones. Even so, I wouldn’t think of going out without it. My wife and I have turned the ringer off on the house phone. We’d give it up, but our Internet access is cheaper by being bundled with the home landline. Incidentally, we periodically check it for messages, but very few nuisance callers leave them, thank goodness.

I’m a horrible text-er. Very, VERY slow. But if I need to get a message to someone while (for example) I’m at the doctor’s office, I will text.

I’m tempted leave the ringer volume up at church since rarely does anyone call me. But the thought of “Sunshine of Your Love” starting up at top volume during a worship service makes me silence it. Sometimes I forget to turn the volume up again for a couple of days.

I’m the first person to admit phones can be useful. Even so, I can’t understand people’s addictions to them. And doing all that talking and texting? Not my idea of fun.

Ah, but the apps for smart phones are something else. It’s great to have a Bible on my phone and a GPS app to locate an unfamiliar place. Not to mention the ability to monitor the flight a loved one is on.

So are phones a curse or a blessing? I guess it depends in part on whether you’re like me and my father or like a typical teen.

Do you hate or love phones? Are you addicted to yours or is it simply another useful gadget? Your comments are welcome.

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The Right Age (a guest post by Cecil Murphey)

Cecil Murphey, known to his many friends as Cec, is an amazing eighty-five-year-old. I’ve lost count of the number of books he’s authored, co-authored, or ghost-written, but the one most of you are familiar with–at least by name–is Ninety Minutes in Heaven, which he wrote with Don Piper, who experienced the astounding visit to Heaven the book and the movie are about.

Cec isn’t selfish about sharing his talents. Years ago I had a private meeting with him at a Christian writers conference (when we were both a tad younger and I was a lot bigger), and I’m still attempting to apply his gracious advice. When I asked for his permission to share the following article, this was his response. “Roger, I’d be delighted and feel honored… ”

He meant it, too.

Enough from me. Here goes…
The Right Age

“I’m too old for that,” my 53-year-old friend said.

I regularly hear such comments from those who have hit the big zero years (50, 60, 70). Once-attractive women complain, “When women reach a certain age, men ignore them.” When I hear that, I think, So what? Do you need approving stares to be happy?

I’m tired of hearing friends cringe at the mention of aging. I have no desire to be 30 or 60 again and am grateful for the years behind me.

Just because we reach “a certain age” doesn’t mean we stop living or enjoying life. Instead, we have an opportunity to add to our lives, to explore new ideas, and take pleasurable risks.

This year I turned 85, and I’m delighted to admit it. Here are a few things I say about my age:

  • “I’ve earned every wrinkle and creak in my body.”
  • “This is the cost of living longer.”
  • “I’m happy being who I am right now.”
  • “This is exactly the right age for me.”

Getting older isn’t only a downhill slide; we can always find positives. No matter how dismal life seems, we can choose to stay positive.

For example, my faith has grown stronger and my attachment to others is deeper. I’m free to say no. The older I get, the more I know the relationships I want to maintain and those I want to let go.

Regardless of the number of my years, I’m exactly the right age to increase my joy and appreciate all the goodness of life. I relish the freedom and the joy of life instead of thinking how terrible it is to get old. I regularly say to myself, “This is the life I’ve been preparing to live. Now I’ll enjoy it.”

What about you and your age? Can you say these words below?


Cecil Murphey


Thanks to Cec for permitting me to publish this article from his most recent monthly newsletter. He has said what I so often think (or realize I should think), but he’s done it much more eloquently.

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Who Would I Rather Be?

As a child, I don’t recall wishing I was someone else, although I admired Roy Rogers enough I wished I could be like him. I was too young and immature to think my parents would take my desire for a horse seriously, however, especially since I’d never been on anything more than merry-go-round ponies.

I don’t recall wanting to be someone else as a teen, either. But, while I spent hours mastering the guitar–if indeed one ever masters it to his own satisfaction–and watching various folk singers on Hootenanny, I feel certain I had dreams of being admired on the same kind of stage. But then the “folk fad” dissolved, and “folk rock” took over. That wasn’t my thing.

Adulthood tends to make some interesting changes to our wishes and desires over the years.

Just as my first two careers, which added up to almost sixteen years of my life, failed to fulfill me, I turned more and more to writing–poetry, short stories, monologues, short plays. And songs. Christian songs that were, uh, very folk-flavored. That was something I couldn’t get out of my system.

I don’t think I truly began to appreciate who I was, however, until I went to Australia on my first volunteer overseas mission trip. I discovered that there are still people who appreciate and are moved by my kind of music.

Nonetheless, it’s taken a number of years to recognize that being a published novelist and an ever-improving musician who’s written over two hundred songs aren’t really who I am. My ability to do those things is a gift from God. I can’t even begin writing a new song until He gives me the idea. And then I must count on Him for the guidance to perfect it to whatever degree I’m capable of. That’s recently become true of my novel writing, too.

What I’ve discovered more-and-more in my old age (I hate to refer to seventy-one as “old age,” but it’s certainly not “middle age”) is that the heart of everything I am lies in the fact that I’m a Child of God, desirous of pleasing Him in using the abilities He’s given me.

So the question “Who would I rather be?” is irrelevant. A better question is “Who would I like to be more like?”

That’s easy to answer. I want to be more Godly. More Christlike. I want to be more loving, more generous, more patient, kinder, more understanding, bolder in opposing things that are wrong and more willing to just shrug my shoulders at things I don’t simply don’t like.

Christ was and is perfect. I’m not. So wanting to become more like Him seems like the most desirable thing I could ever wish for. Who says I’m too old to grow in that direction?

What about you? How about leaving a comment?

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The Most Different “Person” I Know

We are told that no two snowflakes are exactly alike, and I marvel at that thought. How can it possibly be true? How many trillions of snowflakes–is there even a word to describe numbers that huge?–have fallen over the centuries in various parts of the world? And none of them have ever been exact duplicates? How can that possibly be?

We’re also told that no two fingerprints are identical. So that logically means that no two people are exactly alike, either. They might look alike, but the fingerprints would still make them individuals. That thought amazes me as much as the individuality of snowflakes.

Because I was adopted and know virtually nothing about my heritage or my birth family background, I don’t know whether I have any siblings. Or whether we would look sufficiently similar for people to look at us and say, “Say, are you brothers?” or “Are you brother and sister?” No matter how much alike we might look, however, we would still be individuals.

It’s weird enough that, while working at Target, another fellow whose job apparently took him to various Targets looked so much like me that I label this picture “Target twins.”

Yet, despite our similarities, there’s no telling how different we were in every other way.

The Bible talks about God knowing the hairs of our heads. If He knows that much about each and every one of us, He’s even more amazing than my ability to comprehend.

He designed each one of us to be the way we are, and I don’t believe He even had to stop and think about how to make us all different. God is that creative. As if the existence of the world we live in isn’t proof of that.

The Bible says He made us in His image. Not that we look like Him; God is spirit. But we have many of His attributes. But none of us has any of His attributes down as perfectly as He does. Even though I like to think of myself as creative, my creativity doesn’t begin to match God’s.

So, no matter how different human beings are from one another, how much more God differs from us. It’s no wonder we can’t comprehend Him perfectly. He’s too far beyond our ability to understand. We don’t have the words or the numbers or the concepts to describe God adequately.

I can’t even understand how He could love us enough for Jesus to die on the cross to pay for our sins. Yet, though Jesus, I know God as well as I’m capable of knowing Him. It’s no wonder I think of Him as “the most different ‘person’ I know.”

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Political Correctness or Political Silliness?

Gracious! Am I really that old? Ancient!

I must be. Whenever I see the initials PC, my first thought is “personal computer.” I recall when an inheritance from my mother enabled my family to buy not one, but two personal computers. That was in 1994. I don’t recall the cost, but it was huge compared to what something comparable would cost today.

And those were desktop units, not laptops. That was before the days of flash drives, but those small “floppy drives” that weren’t at all floppy were still in use. And of course we still needed to use a dial-up modem to reach the Internet.

Nowadays, of course, nobody bothers with the “personal” part of PC, and only a few of us probably think first of computers when we read, see, or hear a reference to PC.

A few days ago, I was passing through Penney’s on the way to walk in the mall when I noticed that only one woman was holding down the fort at a gaggle of registers where two and sometimes even three women normally worked. My first thought was to pleasantly and sympathetically ask this lady if she was manning the fort by herself that day.

Manning? Oh, me! My bad! How thoughtless!

I didn’t say it, though, and I doubt seriously that this lady would’ve thought twice about my of “manning.” Why should she? Was I to have used–or even just thought–“womaning” or “personing”?

I don’t question the need to refrain from using offensive words. I’ve never used the n-word to refer to a black person. I’ve never even thought it, and I get upset if I hear it used.

So, is “African-American” the currently acceptable term, even though not all black people come from Africa? Nor do all of them live in America. How silly to refer to a black person in England as African-American? And if a word isn’t universally true, why should it be used at all?

Don’t get me wrong. I feel a very strong compulsion as a Christian to refrain from offending people knowingly.

But, gracious! Don’t I also recall a time when referring to a homosexual as “queer” was frowned on? Yet now, we have “LGBTQ,” if I recall the letters correctly, and I’ve probably left out some. Yet “fag” is apparently still considered offensive. (The Words with Friends dictionary doesn’t allow its use, even though it has definitions not related to homosexuality.)

Hmm. I’ll never be able to keep up with gay political correctness. Will the (very) old Christmas song referring to “don we our gay apparel” need to be rewritten, along with so many other things?

And don’t even suggest that we have to start referring to God as “She.” I can guarantee that the sperm that united with Mary’s egg to create Jesus did not come from a woman.

Yes, maybe I’m just too old-fashioned. I still believe in calling things what they are, avoiding anything that’s overtly offensive, but not fretting about much of the silliness that falls under the PC umbrella. Yet I’ve caught myself avoiding saying everything I want to say on this subject because I never know when the PC police might be watching and call me down on it.

I also grew up during the time when “you can’t legislate morality” was a popular saying. Designating certain behaviors illegal as one thing, but true morality is a matter of the heart. Or is it? According to the liberal PC-ers and other post-modernists, everyone’s morality would be different since they claim there’s no such thing as absolute truth.

Hmm. I think I’m better off continuing to think of PC as “personal computer.” It’s safer and less frustrating.

What do you think of political correctness? Do you have any particular dislikes? Please share a comment. We can all go down together.

I’ll be back again next Sunday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

Best regards,


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Between the Crucifixion and the Resurrection

At the breakfast table this morning, my wife and I were discussing the article I’d just read about the movie Mel Gibson wants to make. The Resurrection would be the sequel to The Passion, which we have both seen and been moved by. The new movie was described as being the “biggest movie ever made,” even though it is still years away from being begun, much less released.

But the Movieguide article made us scratch our heads in amazement, wonder, and perhaps even concern. It said the movie will be about the three days Jesus spent in Hell.

That threw up an immediate red flag for us. Whereas The Passion was based on the Bible–the best we can recall, it was true to Scripture–the Bible doesn’t give any information about what happened between the crucifixion and the resurrection. If Jesus shared that information with His disciples after the resurrection, it didn’t end up in the Bible.

As Evangelical Christians, we don’t believe in Purgatory. But if Mel Gibson is a Roman Catholic, he undoubtedly  does. According to the online dictionary I checked, Purgatory is “the place where those who have died in a state of grace undergo limited torment to expiate their sins.”

Not exactly the kind of place Jesus would deserve to spend three days. After all, He lived a sinless life.

Ah, but as the Lamb of God He died for the sins of mankind. He “became” sin. So spending time in Purgatory might fit if the definition were “to expiate the sins of the world” rather than His own, which there were none of.

But there’s another issue at stake here, too. I could be wrong, but my understanding is that in traditional Jewish thought, the soul doesn’t leave the body until the body has been dead three days. Would The Resurrection go against that–or would it claim that Jesus’s body (with His soul intact) spent that time in Purgatory, only to be returned to the grave on “the first day of the week” to then break free from the tomb?

I firmly believe in the death and the resurrection of Jesus. My salvation depends on the relationship I have with God because of what Jesus did for me and for each one of us. But I can’t claim to have any knowledge of what happened between His death and His resurrection. At best, any effort on my part to explain it would be pure speculation.

I don’t think speculation is necessarily a bad thing.

But if it’s the basis for the “biggest movie ever made,” I’m a little concerned. Especially because that would make it so different from the more biblically accurate The Passion. I wonder if Mel Gibson even realizes that Evangelicals and Protestants might not be very supportive of The Resurrection.

If you agree, please join me in praying that he will have second-thoughts about what he wants to do. Your comments are welcome, whether you agree with me or not.

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Best regards,


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Walking Sticks

I’ve seen enough pictures of the Holy Land to appreciate how important a walking stick must have been in biblical times to anyone traveling by foot. Not only for stability, but maybe even for defense against robbers and wild animals.

I’ve been reading from the Old Testament the past few weeks, and I’m in Exodus now. It’s been interesting to read once more about Moses throwing down his staff–I’m assuming that’s the equivalent of  a walking stick–and having it turn into a lively and rather frightening snake. And then God telling him to pick it up  and turning it back into a staff.

Later on, when the Children of Israel were complaining about the lack of water, God told Moses to strike a rock with his staff, and that made water flow from a rock. If I remember correctly, Moses got in trouble with the Lord later on when he tried to do the same thing on his own initiative and not because God told him to. In fact, wasn’t Moses’ disobedience the thing that prevented him from being permitted to enter the Promised Land when they finally got there?

I’ll bet Jesus used a walking stick, too. He certainly did a lot of moving around from village to village, and He and His disciples had to walk. I often wonder what His walking stick looked like. No matter what kind of wood it was made from, I suspect it had a well-worn look by the last time He used it.

I often use a walking stick, too. Not because I can’t walk without one, but because I can trip over a line in the floor. So it’s especially important for me to use one when walking at the mall or in the neighborhood. In addition to adding stability, it helps me keep my rhythm in walking. Unlike walkers in Jesus’ day, I doubt I’ll need it for defense, but you never know.

Even though a physical walking stick like you see me with in this unusual selfie adds stability to my physical movements, what’s ultimately more important is leaning on the Lord for my overall walk through daily life. David knew what he was talking about when he wrote in Psalm 23, “Your rod and your staff, they comfort me.”

Those words of assurance are comforting and good to lean on.

How about leaving a comment?

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