The Biker and the Bees

The Biker and the Bees

Encouragment, Short Stories
It was one of those days. The gang fight at Block 98, home of the Midnight Riders Motorcycle Club, was the talk of every alley, tenement, and dark shadow. The fight looked to be a straight-up turf war between the Riders and the Aces. Somehow a third gang became involved, one new to the streets. Rumor has it they’re an all-girl gang called the Bees. Everything else is rumor and guesses made worse by the fog of gossip. Every customer visiting my tattoo parlor has their ideas about what went down. None of them the same. Now, I try to keep my business neutral between the various biker gangs, some them are my best customers. It’s not easy, but this means I do have hooks into each of them. So, while the streets mull over rumor I take my Harley to find the truth. My first stop is Block 98,
Practically James – Practically Waiting

Practically James – Practically Waiting

Encouragment
We’ve probably all experienced the mind-numbing boredom of waiting in line. Standing or sitting until our turn comes around, until our name is called, or it’s our turn to ride the roller coaster. Those minutes seem like hours as they drag by. We find ways to distract ourselves. Read a magazine, play a game on our phone, or pick on our sibling because we don’t know what else to do. But is that the kind of waiting James has in  mind when he says “be patient?” We framed this study of James with the opening words of his letter. “Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be pe
Grow Roots

Grow Roots

Encouragment
We all experience seasons in our life walk. Times of joy, times of despair, times of success, times of failure, times of brilliance, times of foolishness, times of hope, times of fear. However, unlike the seasons of spring, summer, autumn, and winter we rarely know what is around the corner; the joy or tragedy of our next step. We saw that sudden swing last week as Valentine’s day ended in tragedy at a Florida school. I’m not proposing a preventative that would always work. Neither am I railing against some flaw in our system. Instead consider this, what if the season of our life changed radically as it did for those students, teachers, and parents?  Am I ready?  Are you? The prophet Jeremiah held out two types of people. One type is those who trust in their own wisdom and strength t
Practically James – Practical Prayer

Practically James – Practical Prayer

Encouragment
Perhaps you’ve seen those magic quadrant charts that seek to make the complex easier to understand. They typically identify four extremes and then plot points between them. One such chart seeks to understand the diversity of human personality using the tensions between individual and collective, interior and exterior. Is your identify individualistic or community driven?  Would you prefer to be alone or in a group? The chart begs us to plot ourselves in between those poles. James has a similar magic quadrant. The difference, however, is that no matter where you are at on the chart the encouragement is the same - pray. Magic Quadrant of Prayer James wrote, “Are any of you suffering hardships? You should pray. Are any of you happy? You should sing praises. Are any of you sick? You should

2018 Survey Invitation

Latest Articles
Once a year we ask the readers of Lambchow for some feedback. Our goal is to better understand the needs and makeup of our audience. All entries are anonymous. We are not asking for your name or collecting your email address. In a few weeks, I’ll compile and publish the results. The survey itself is twenty questions, all but two are multiple choice of some flavor. Thank you in advance for your time. Click here to get started: https://goo.gl/forms/q86Lz0L2peturFlf1
Practically James – Practical Faith

Practically James – Practical Faith

Encouragment
The Letter from James almost didn’t make it into our Bibles. The primary issue was the conflict concerning the roles of faith and works (or good deeds). Consider these two verses. Paul wrote, “For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God.” (Romans 4:2, NASB95)  James argued, “Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up Isaac his son on the altar?” (James 2:21, NASB95) On the surface, they seem completely contradictory, but are they? The Conflict Before we can continue our study of James we must solve the dilemma of faith and works. The first thing we must understand is that James agrees with Paul. Faith is preeminently important for justification before God. Consider, “But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for t
Dale’s Rules for Life: Celebrate Everything (Even the Small Stuff)

Dale’s Rules for Life: Celebrate Everything (Even the Small Stuff)

Encouragment
I have these rules, 27 so far, this is number three. Celebrate everything (even the small stuff). Yeah! Fist bump time. Celebrations are important. They may mark milestone events - Birthdays (especially those that end in zero), weddings, important anniversaries, the birth of a child, a new job, retirement, graduation, or the completion of some large goal. Those are the huge celebrations. There are also the many moments of celebration when we stand, cheer, clap, dance, and generally make a fool of ourselves. Go Cubs! WooHoo! Notice the tagline for this rule - even the small stuff. That’s the part most people miss. The small stuff are the victories, blessings, accomplishments, and welcome surprises that cross our path each and every day. Granted, these celebrations are not as elaborate or
Practically James – Practical Humility

Practically James – Practical Humility

Encouragment
What defines who is rich and who is poor? How much money does it take?  It really comes down to a matter of perspective. In the USA I’m in the middle with a fairly standard working man’s salary. An experienced long-haul truck driver makes about the same amount. But, if I were to move to any number of places around the world I would be counted as very well off, if not rich (even though I’m not). Neither am I poor, although there were times in my life when that was true. Again, in a relative sense. So, while the New Testament Book of James discusses rich and poor we must not lose sight of the larger lesson. For today’s look into James we are pulling on several separate but related threads. In each of these there is a forefront issue and a background lesson. Because of this, our basic out
Chasing Sunsets

Chasing Sunsets

Encouragment, Short Stories
It was a late spring day and the garden needed some fence wire to tame an over-exuberant blackberry vine. The wire happened to be in the barn. I don’t go out to the old barn very often.  The animals are all gone now and cousin Ronnie is farming our ground. My wife Dot and I still live on the home place but probably not for much longer. I was born on this plot of ground in the middle of Illinois and my children were raised here. Our barn is close to 100 years old and it’s one of my favorite places. The ground level livestock area has given shelter to every kind of farm animal you can think of. The stalls are all cleaned out now, the only residents being a few cats and some stubborn mice. Upstairs is the hayloft. Nothing smells like summer more than drying hay. It’s hard to descri
Practically James – Practically Impartial

Practically James – Practically Impartial

Encouragment
Our minds are constructed to discriminate; to filter out unnecessary information received by our senses. If you doubt this sit quietly for a moment or two and listen. What noises are suddenly obvious that must have been there the whole time. Perhaps you’ll hear the tick of a clock, the whirl of a fan, or the song of a bird. With really good hearing you may even hear your own heartbeat and the sound of your own breath. But turn your thoughts elsewhere and those sounds retreat again to the unnoticed background. Those noises were there the whole time but our minds determined, without our bidding or direction, that they’re not important. The problem is when we allow this wonderful ability to impact our valuation of people. The New Testament Letter of James practically speaks to this issue
Have You Found It?

Have You Found It?

Encouragment
There is this place. A refuge of complete safety with a foundation firmer than bedrock and walls stronger than diamonds. While rumors of fear and disaster may reach the hearts of those sheltering there they will never be disturbed. Is it Utopia? No, for it is not made with human hands. Is it paradise? No, for neither is it a creation of God. Is it make-believe then? No, for voices ancient and fresh give breath to its reality. How do you find this place? The doorway to this refuge is whispered in the silence of our souls. One ancient voice declares of this refuge, “Let all that I am wait quietly before God, for my hope is in him. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress where I will not be shaken. My victory and honor come from God alone. He is my refuge, a rock where no enemy
Practically James – Practically Speaking

Practically James – Practically Speaking

Encouragment
Ever say something and immediately wish you could retract it?  I can think of several times. In fact, the longer I think about it the more examples come to mind and the more I’m embarrassed. The insensitive comment. That joke which inadvertently offended. The rash promise. The harsh line that didn’t need to be said. The times of silence when words could bring healing comfort. We’ve all been there which makes our next lesson from the Letter of James all the more real and relevant. By way of reminder, we’re using James’ introduction as our outline. “Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully d