Life In A Sycamore Tree

Julio Iglesias wasn’t always able to sing. Originally the entertainer wanted to be a professional soccer player. His career dreams were sidelined when a car accident left him paralyzed from the waste down and with little chance of ever walking again. His stay in the hospital lasted several months, and it was during this time that a nurse gave him a guitar to pass the time. Julio spent hours on end listening to the radio and writing lyrics while trying to master the instrument, and by the time he could walk again the course of his existence had been dramatically altered. His life is an example of how one moment can change everything. Similarly Zacchaeus’s heart changed the instant he saw Christ (Luke 19). He immediately went from being a crook to a passionate giver. It wasn’t religion that made the difference, it was simply Jesus.

”When Tobin wrote his first column, it appeared on the top 10 most read articles on the web site. Tobin is an excellent communicator.” Tammy, Editor Suburbanite

“You will be the same person in five years as you are today except for the people you meet and the books you read.” ~Charles Jones


Statistics show that most heart attacks occur on Monday morning around 9:00 am. Jesus talked about four groups of people that encounter him (Mark 4). The 1st have his word snatched away by the devil, the 2nd give up when things get tough, the 3rd move onto something else when they lose interest, and the 4th group hear, believe, and act on his promise. Jesus refers to this last group as “good soil,” a place his truth can take root and produce amazing things for those who receive it, even on Monday morning at 9:00 am.

“What we become depends on what we read after all the professors are finished with us.” ~Kyle Wood

How To Save A Life

 Louis Jones, Jr. was executed by lethal injection in 2003. Jones served in the Gulf War where he was exposed to sarin gas, drastically altering his personality. One evening in a fit of rage he took a woman’s life for which he was put on federal trial. Because of the nature of the crime the prosecutor asked for the death penalty. While in prison he found faith in God, and peacefully faced his own death. His daughter couldn’t understand until the day he was executed. Placing his hands on the glass partition, he prayed for his family and said, “This is the day the Lord hath made.” At that moment she found peace. Jones died singing the immortal words of Fanny Crosby’s hymn:

Jesus, keep me near the cross,

There a precious fountain

Free to all, a healing stream

Flows from Calvary’s mountain.

In the cross, in the cross,

Be my glory ever;

Till my raptured soul shall find

Rest beyond the river.

Psalm 118 “I will not die but live, and will proclaim what the LORD has done.” Because Christ gave his life for us, may we daily live with passion and gratitude, proclaiming by our peace and joy all he has done.




 “Wisdom is supreme; therefore get wisdom.
Though it cost all you have, get understanding.” ~Solomon (Proverbs 4:7)

Reason Enough

“One day it will hit you like a brick” shared pastor Ken Davis, speaking about the incredible experience of becoming a grandfather. He recalled first seeing his granddaughter through the glass at the “baby aquarium” in the maternity ward, and the deep love that he felt for this new life.

For the next two years Ken and his granddaughter spent most every day together. Then one day his daughter and son-in-law showed up late at the house to speak with him.

“We are moving, dad”, she shared.

“Are you taking the baby?” he said in jest, fighting back the tears. Shortly thereafter he and his wife said their tearful goodbyes as his family moved eight hundred miles away to Nashville. Over the next several days he and his wife pondered leaving Denver to join their family. One day on a flight Ken pulled out a notebook and filled an entire page with reasons to stay in Colorado. He considered the beautiful weather, the fishing, the hunting and the mountains. His list was long and detailed. Then he pulled out another piece of paper and tried to make a list of reasons to move to Nashville. He had only one, and on the top of the paper he wrote his granddaughter’s name. It was all the reason he needed, and soon he and his wife joyfully joined their family in Tennessee.

  And so it was in eternity past that the Son of God looked through heaven’s glass and into our world. He saw the pain in people’s lives, the brokenness of sin, and the terrible ways in which people treated one another. He saw the loss of hope and loneliness, and the fear of death.

And in that moment he could have filled a million notebooks with reasons to stay in heaven. And then he pulled out a piece of paper to make a list of reasons why he should come to this world and die for the sins of people. And on the top of that page was one thing; your name and mine. And it was reason enough.



If asked to guess who said the following, most would tag its author as a theologian or seminary professor. Several years ago in front of the world a man shared, “The problem basically is theological and involves…an improvement of human character that will synchronize with our almost matchless advances in science, art, literature…It must be of the spirit if we are to save the flesh.” That man  was General Douglas MacArthur aboard the Missouri, receiving the formal surrender of the Axis powers, ending World War II. MacArthur understood that man’s problem was above all spiritual, and ignoring this fact would be to the detriment of all people. “Exhibit A” for him was two world wars that together cost 120 million lives.

As prophetic as his words were, his warning has been to a large extent ignored, with the decades following his pronouncement giving birth to more wars and the deterioration of cultural values in America, including the “God is dead” movement of the ‘60s, the cynicism of the 70s, and the materialism of the 80s and 90s. Now well into the 21st Century skepticism  abounds. Two thousand years ago Jesus asked, “When the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:8). It is a question that each person must answer in the light of his call to become salt and light in the world.

When William Wilberforce led the abolitionist movement in the nineteenth century, his opposition was fierce. For some twenty years his bill to outlaw slavery in Britain was voted down in Parliament. Growing weary of the fight, he often turned to a letter he received from his spiritual father, John Wesley. Wesley had told Wilberforce that his call was to be athanasius contra mundum, Latin for “against the world.” Though exhausted, Wilberforce knew his calling in life was to make a difference in the world. In all he gave almost fifty years to seeing slavery eradicated, dying just three days after it was abolished in Britain due in great part to his own efforts. Wilberforce was truly salt and light in his day.

As we see challenges in our own lives and around us in culture, may we understand that they are first of all spiritual problems. May we understand that the answer is to be faithful to our calling to be salt and light, so that we may answer Jesus’ question about faith with a resounding “Yes!” demonstrating our convictions by our words and actions, and standing athanasius contra mundum.

“Most people’s lives are a direct reflection of the expectation of their peer group.” ~Anthony Robbins


When I was an undergrad, musician Steve Camp  spoke to our class. He shared that one day he was at the hospital when he was asked to visit a woman who had been sexually abused several times by various people. She found herself at the hospital unable to cope any longer, ready to commit suicide. Steve agreed to try and help her, but found her unresponsive in her room, just blankly staring at the wall.

He sat down and talked with her for about an hour, telling her about his life and family. The entire time she refused to acknowledge his presence, just staring at the wall in front of her. Finally he got up to leave, telling her that maybe he would see her again. As he reached the door she spoke for the first time, ““Why don’t you want to kill yourself like I want to kill myself?”

Thinking for a moment Steve replied, “Because he lives, I can face tomorrow.” He agreed to come back later that week, and before long she put her faith in Christ as a number of faithful believers came to visit her. Within weeks she was released from the hospital, completely transformed.

After a couple years she moved away. One day she wrote to Steve and told him, “I tree you.” She was getting married and requested he and his wife attend her wedding. They gladly attended, inspired by the remarkable transformation in her life. After the reception he asked her what she meant when she ended her letters, “I tree you.”

 She began to recall the hurt in her life, the pain of betrayal and abuse by people who were supposed to love her. “People too easily say ‘I love you.’ The ones who said it to me were the ones who hurt me the most. I don’t know what love is, but I know that trees are beautiful. That is something I can relate to, so I end all my letters that way.” Then pausing she said, “Are there any trees in the Bible?” Steve looked her in the eye and said, “There is the most amazing tree in the Bible, one on which Jesus died for the sins of the world, that we might know the life he brings.”

I pray daily we walk in full confidence assured that we are loved by God, having a passionate life and fully knowing that Jesus has cleansed us and made us white as snow. May you always remember...he trees you.



“I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.”                      ~Jesus (John 14:6)

Afraid, of what?

E.H. Hamilton was once asked if he feared the mission field in a foreign country where he might find hostile natives and dangerous living conditions. He responded:

Afraid of what?

To feel the spirit's glad release?

To pass from pain to perfect peace,

The strife and strain of life to cease?

Afraid - of that?

Afraid? Of What?

Afraid to see the Savior's face

To hear His welcome and to trace

The glory gleam from wounds of grace?

Afraid - of that?

Afraid? Of What?

May we also settle in our hearts that Jesus set “free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death” (Hebrews 2:15).

And may we confidently face tomorrow because He lives!


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“When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him?” ~David, Psalm 8:3-4

Words of a Gentleman

  As David Livingtone prepared to leave England to bring the gospel to Africa, a friend pleaded with him to instead stay in London, fearing the dangers of a foreign land. Standing on the dock where his ship awaited, Livingstone read aloud Jesus’ words, “Lo, I am with you always.” Closing the book he then replied, “That my friend, is the word of a gentleman... So let us be going.” Wherever you find yourself today, know that he is with you, and his promises can be trusted, so let us be going!

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