Not Perfect

cross St. John

We live in Dunoon, Scotland, with good neighbors, friendly folks, a great church, a wonderful pastor, wife, and congregation—and plenty of walking places including along the banks of the Firth of Clyde where the wind whips the salty water and air into a fresh smell that thrills the soul. Walking the back streets of Dunoon in the afternoon is like stepping back in time to an Andy Griffith show: neighborhood children playing together and riding bikes on the sidewalks while the aroma of moms’ cooking steals out of open windows and hangs in the air.


But Dunoon is not perfect. It’s not just the marine climate, cool temperatures, and scarcity of sun that mars the perfection of our retirement home—it’s that age-old spoiler of all good things—sin. If you lift up the outer edges of life here you see that just like in the rest of the world some people struggle with life-stealing addictions. There is a police station in Dunoon because there is crime, just as there has been on the earth since Adam and Eve ate the fruit of the one tree in the entire Garden of Eden that God commanded them not to. Sin never stays small and manageable—it grows and morphs into a monster that kills, steals, and destroys.

Enter Treasury. That’s the world I created from the Bible for my Christian Fantasy, “Voices in the Wind,” which has earned an orange flag as a bestseller and already has one 5-Star review now—mere days after its release. Treasury is such an alluring place to be that I run there at night and hide in its beauty if I have trouble getting to sleep. Treasury is much like Heaven—yet it is not perfect. Rhoda lifts up the curtain of rain and finds herself in Treasury, but must prove her right to stay there by crossing a divide, climbing Verboten Mountain and engaging huge Bullet Train Ants, enormous serpents, armed warriors, and Dino Birds in her bid to stay in Treasury and marry her soul mate. But Rhoda’s cruelest enemy proves to be human.

Treasury is not perfect. Only Heaven, created by God, is perfect. The Bible assures us that once we get to Heaven we will have new bodies and there will be no more sorrow, tears, pain, illness, or parting. Nothing that defiles will be admitted to Heaven. So if you haven’t already joined the throng for Heaven, come on aboard. Believe on the Lord Jesus and be saved. He is driving the train.

Loose the Excuse

Can you imagine my husband’s response if I said to him, “That picture you found of me with another man, well, he and I have a special relationship and I keep his picture with me all the time so I can look at him and be encouraged. We walk together, dance together, dine together, email each other, chat on the phone and just enjoy spending time together – but don’t worry, Sweetheart, I love you.”

I can imagine his response. Divorce. He is jealous.

Can you imagine Mighty God’s response after He led His chosen people out of Egypt, parted the Red Sea for them, and fed them in the wilderness for forty years and they said to Him, “Well, God, no offense – but we like these wooden idols the nations around us have made. We know they aren’t alive or real, but we want to worship them so we will fit in. Not to worry, Mighty God, we still love You.”

God was offended. He is jealous.

Christians today are quick to produce New Testament verses about Jesus’ love, mercy, compassion and forgiveness, all of which are true. But the life-building foundations of the Old Testament are just as valid today as they were more than 2,000 years ago. Jesus said He came to “fulfill” the Old Testament – not destroy it.

Jesus further validated the Old Testament in Luke 10:27 when he agreed with a quote from Exodus and Deuteronomy. “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.”

God commanded in Exodus 20:3, “You shall have no other gods before Me.”

We excuse our way around that commandment. “I don’t read the Bible. It’s too hard to understand.” “I don’t attend church. It’s full of hypocrites.” “Sunday’s the only day I have to spend with my family.” “I’m too busy for God now. I’ll make all the money I can for my retirement, then serve God.” “I can’t tell anyone else about God – I wouldn’t know what to say.” “How can I believe in God when bad things happen in the world?” “How can I believe in God when bad things happen to good people?”

There are some questions that not even the most brilliant Christian can answer. We live in a sin-blighted world and because of sin – bad things happen everywhere and to everyone. We need to loose the excuse, whatever it is, and center our lives on Jesus Christ, the Son of God, Who loved us so much that He died so that our bad could be forgiven.

Imagine Jesus failing to loose the excuse. “Father, I think I’ll put off dying on the cross today and go back to Samaria. A lot of people got saved after I talked to the woman at the well.” “Father, it’s too nice a day to die. I’ll go fishing with Peter.” “Father, people I love will mock me, spit on me, slap me around, pound thorns into my head, cut my back to shreds with whips, nail my hands and feet to a rough wooden cross like I was criminal, and hoist me into the air, naked and bleeding to die in shame. I’m not ready for that yet.”

The price for our salvation has been paid in full. Jesus can’t do more. He’s done it all. It’s time for us to loose the excuse, put God first in our lives, and quit serving the idols of this world – fame, fortune, success, sex, pleasure, entertainment – and serve the Mighty God of the universe Who can speak calmness into the storms in our lives.


Faulty Hearing

Because of severe ear infections when I was a child, whenever I hear something one way and another person hears it another way – I am almost always wrong.

For example, I can’t tell the difference between Wales and whales. I almost never come up with the correct song lyrics until I see them in print. All my life, I thought that the Popeye cartoon featured a baby named “Sweet Pea” instead of SweePea, and Brutus instead of Bluto. I was totally amazed to discover that the mean non-charmer’s name was Bluto.

I can’t tell the difference between my Texas accent and Scottish accents. My y’all has a tendency to announce my non-native status here in Scotland. The Scot’s frequent use of aye and pronunciation of garage as garerugze, aluminum as alyouminemem, and resume as reezoome would garner attention in the U.S. Even though I can’t tell the difference in accents, I must sound different because I’m always being asked, “Where are you from?”

Nor can I sing. I can’t tell the difference between the way everyone else is singing and the way I’m singing. In elementary school, I was told that I could stand on stage and “sing” with the rest of my class as long as I opened and closed my mouth without making a sound. When I sing in church, I follow voices going up and down on certain words. The music everyone else is following is lost to me, and if the words vary from what I have memorized with the tune (as is so often the case with the Scottish version of hymns), I can’t sing it at all. The only flat I understand is a tire or a piece of ground and sharp means that if I keep messing around with it, I’m gonna get cut.

Recently, I realized what a blessing my faulty hearing is. It has made me more thankful that Jesus came into the world as a baby and grew to manhood, only to be nailed to the cross for my sins and the sins of the world. Before I was a Christian, I mocked the idea that one perfect, sinless Man would need to die for me – or anyone else. I didn’t want someone dying for me. I didn’t ask anyone to. But after I met Jesus in person and asked Him into my heart, spiritual blinders fell away and I realized the beautiful simplicity of God’s plan of salvation and why it is the only fair and just way of determining who goes to Heaven.

If people had to sing their way into Heaven, I’d never make it. If they had to work their way into Heaven, it would exclude anyone who was born with mental or physical disabilities. If people had to achieve Heaven through knowledge, it would exclude people who never had the opportunity to get an education. If people could pay their way into Heaven, it would exclude the poor. Instead, Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Anyone and everyone who asks Him into their hearts is saved and gets to go to heaven – whether they are young or old, rich or poor, whole or broken, talented or ordinary – and no matter what race or nationality they are. The ground at the cross is level.

And fortunately, God hears prayers of the heart and spirit. One doesn’t need a certain accent, a certain formation of words, a certain tone of voice, for God to hear his or her prayer. He smiled at my prayers and answered them even when I used to say, “Our Father Who art in Heaven, hollowed be Your name.