Got a Minute? Almost out of Gas

Hi, friends in exile. Got a minute?

I got into my vintage van this morning and noticed again that the “low fuel” light is on. I keep thinking, next time I get in, I will run by the station. But the light is still on. I have only run out of gas once, and that wasn’t much fun.

Is your soul running on empty? The Mayo Clinic suggests these questions to see if we might be having “job burnout”: “Have you become cynical or critical at work? Do you drag yourself to work and have trouble getting started? Have you become irritable or impatient with co-workers, customers or clients? Do you lack the energy to be consistently productive? Do you find it hard to concentrate? Do you lack satisfaction from your achievements? … Are you using food, drugs, or alcohol to feel better or to simply not feel? Have your sleep habits changed? Are you troubled by unexplained headaches, stomach or bowel problems, or other physical complaints?”[1]

The Shepherd Psalm says, “He restores my soul” (Psalm 23:3, ESV). Maybe we should seek Him before we are stranded alongside the road.

Smiley Mudd


Got a Minute? Raisins in the Oatmeal

Hi, friends in exile. Got a minute?

The other morning, I got up before the sun to do some strenuous stuff. I thought I would need a good start to the day, so I made myself a bowl of oatmeal. Oatmeal is supposed to be heart-healthy and filling. It “sticks to your ribs,” as the saying goes. Not being an oatmeal purist, I took my oversized bowl from the microwave and poured some milk over it to cool it off. Then I took a big bite. Bland. So, I took out the honey container and drizzled a bit of honey over it. Better. If only I would have had some raisins.

Sometimes we need raisins in our oatmeal. That’s why Jesus told parables, simple analogies to teach the truth. That’s why most preachers use illustrations. Hard to share with people who are slack-jawed and slumped-over. We all need to mix it up a bit. Listen to an audiobook or let the Bible app read to us. Listen to good music. Even better, write a song. Take a prayer walk and meditate on a verse of Scripture. Add some raisins.

Smiley Mudd

Got a Minute? On Growing Figs

Hi, friends in exile. Got a minute?

On one occasion, Jesus “told this parable: ‘A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard, and he came seeking fruit on it and found none. 7 And he said to the vinedresser, “Look, for three years now I have come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and I find none. Cut it down. Why should it use up the ground?” 8 And he answered him, “Sir, let it alone this year also, until I dig around it and put on manure. 9 Then if it should bear fruit next year, well and good; but if not, you can cut it down”’” (Luke 13:6-9, ESV).

Jesus’ “parables” were familiar stories to make a teaching point. So, what was the teaching point of the parable of the fig tree? Consider this: if we are living in light of eternity, we should not just be biding our time right now. We should be fruitful, developing the character and actions fitting for those whose sights are set on the eternal realm. Jesus’ love and truth should be growing in our souls right now. So, let’s get figgy!

Smiley Mudd

Got a Minute? How We Go, or Where We Go?

Hi, friends in exile. Got a minute?

Jesus was once challenged by His listeners with a theological puzzle. Here is how that conversation went: “1 There were some present at that very time who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. 2 And he answered them, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered in this way? 3 …. 4 Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them: do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem?” (Luke 13:1-4, ESV).

I was pressed by a former attender at our church one time about whether the terrorist attacks of 9/11/01 were a judgment from God on our national sins. Sounds eerily similar to what Jesus asked. Jesus’ answer to both stories was the same: “No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish” (Luke 13:3, 5 ESV). Point: we all need Jesus before we leave this life, in whatever way we leave it.

Smiley Mudd

Got a Minute? Thomas Clarkson and … Quitting

Hi, friends in exile. Got a minute?

The campaign for the abolition of slavery in Great Britain covered about a half a century, ending in 1833 just days before William Wilberforce’s death. He led the charge in Parliament, while others took the fight to the culture. The first man to work this fulltime was Thomas Clarkson, a pastor. He was supported by others of means while he worked hard at speaking, writing, and organizing. But one day, he simply quit on the campaign—for twelve long years. He wrote a book entitled History of the Abolition of the Slave Trade, and he failed to mention this. According to biographer John Pollock, Clarkson may have inflated his role in the campaign, but he did work hard for it when he was engaged.

Ever feel like quitting on something really important? Service to God, parenthood, a worthy cause? I have been reminding myself of this sentence lately: “So let us not lose enthusiasm for doing the good, for in its own season we will reap, if we do not give out” (Galatians 6:9, FJV).

Smiley Mudd

Got a Minute? “Holy Mr. Herbert”

Hi, friends in exile. Got a minute?

George Herbert lived from 1593-1633 in England. He left his job as the Public Orator of Cambridge University for pastoral ministry. When many were indifferent, he became known as “Holy Mr. Herbert” for his sincere devotion to the Lord and the people. He served for three years and died young. But he wrote poems that are still included in anthologies of English literature. Take this one, for example, entitled “Virtue”:

Sweet day, so cool, so calm, so bright,

The bridal of the earth and sky,

The dew shall weep thy fall tonight

For thou shalt die.

Sweet rose, whose hue, angry and brave

Bids the rash gazer wipe his eye,

Thy root is ever in its grave,

For thou shalt die.

Sweet spring, full of sweet days and roses,

A box where sweets compacted lie,

Thy music shows you have your closes,

For all must die.

Only a sweet and virtuous soul

Like seasoned timber never gives,

But though the whole world turn to coal,

Then chiefly lives.

Virtue causes us to live for what really lasts.

Smiley Mudd

Got a Minute? Wilberforce Was Not Alone.

Hi, friends in exile. Got a minute?

William Wilberforce did not wage the war against slavery in the British Empire alone. He was recruited to the cause by others. Lady Margaret Middleton, an accomplished painter and musician, first proposed the issue to her husband Sir Charles Middleton. He was a former sailor of about sixty and thought himself unsuited for the task. They thought of Wilberforce and pitched the plan to him.

Their mutual friend Hannah Moore, a celebrated poet and educator, joined the cause. Two pastors, James Ramsey and especially Thomas Clarkson, were compatriots. Olaudah Equiano spoke eloquently about his experiences and of the horrors of the Slave Trade. John Newton, of Amazing Grace fame, and evangelist John Wesley gave support. Wilberforce’s close friend and often political ally William Pitt, the youngest prime minister in British history, helped all he could.

Paul wrote, “We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us” (Romans 12:6, NIV). We need each other to accomplish the calling of God.

Smiley Mudd

Got a Minute? Wilberforce and Galatians 6:9

Hi, friends in exile. Got a minute?

During the campaign against slavery in the British Empire, William Wilberforce and his Christian friends faced setbacks again and again. From the time he set out to suppress slavery until it was legally abolished in the Empire, nearly half a century passed.

At the beginning of the campaign, Wilber’s internal disorder (ulcerative colitis?) flared up so badly that his physicians gave him only two weeks to live. They prescribed laudanum (that is, morphine) to treat it, which caused other problems throughout his life. He rallied. Then, The War for Independence in America and The French Revolution and its democratic “reign of terror” both held up abolition for years, for different reasons. The concept of “gradual abolition” kept even well-meaning friends from earnest and timely effort. The deaths of political allies and the retirement of compatriots held it up. The economic entrenchment of the institution was a mountain to climb. Yet, they persevered. “So let us not lose enthusiasm for doing the good, for in its own season we will reap, if we do not give out” (Galatians 6:9, FJV).

Smiley Mudd

Got a Minute? Wilberforce and Seeking God’s Kingdom First

William Wilberforce was a member of the British Parliament in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. He and various Christian friends campaigned against slavery until it was abolished in the British Empire just three days before his death. He kept a diary and made this entry just a couple of years after what he called “The Great Change,” his conversion to faith in Jesus. He was twenty-eight when he wrote: “28 October 1787: ‘God almighty has set before me two great objects, the suppression of the Slave Trade and the Reformation of Manners’” (or, public morality).

He was faithful to the call. At one stage, he was a member of sixty-nine different societies committed to moral reform: prison and criminal justice, child-labor laws, preventing cruelty to animals, to name a few. Though born into wealth, Wilber gave away so much of his fortune that in his latter years, he had to sell his property and move in with two of his sons. What an example of “Seek first the kingdom of God” (Matthew 6:33).

Smiley Mudd

Got a Minute? Wilberforce and the Fight for Justice

Hi, friends in exile, got a minute?

When William Wilberforce was elected to the House of Commons in the British Parliament at the tender age of twenty-one, such positions were basically bought. He did what was customary, and he won election as an MP. This is not to say that he did not have native talent. He soon became famous for his powers of oratory.

Five years later, he had a serious conversion to faith in Jesus Christ. After his conversion, God convinced him, through the support of John Newton and John Wesley among others, to remain in Parliament and try to make a difference. Along with other matters of public morality, Wilber gave his life to the abolition of slavery. in 1833, three days before his death, after over fifty years of dangerous advocacy by Wilber and others, Parliament voted to abolish slavery in the British Empire. “To whom much is entrusted, much more will be asked,” said Jesus (see Luke 12:48). “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves,” says the Proverbial counselor (Proverbs 31:8, NIV).

Smiley Mudd