Day 27 (Friday) -“Coffee Stains…”

Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.”  Matthew 23:25-26

Jesus had some harsh words for the religious leaders of his day…but first let me share with you a story.  I love coffee…a lot!  I also have my favorite cups that I like to use every day. cup It’s the daily routine.  Every morning I wake up my children and get them ready for school.  Then I shuffle to the kitchen and brew myself a nice hot cup of coffee.  Most days my cup is clean but then there are days when my favorite cup was left in the car or in the sink…and it’s dirty.  There is a dilemma that happens, do I wash it or just rinse it out.  If I rinse it out I will know that the inside wasn’t clean…and I will be thinking about how it will affect the taste of my coffee as well as how it could affect my health to ingest bacteria from a dirty cup.  I could drink from it, but I won’t.

I would imagine that you would do the same – wash the cup.
If you’re anything like me, you care about your health and you want to ensure you take care of yourself…and cleaning is one way to help prevent illness and all-round health issues.

createJesus addressed a very real spiritual health issue with these religious leaders.
He was harsh, but straight with them.  They looked the part, but on the inside they were unclean.  Instead of dealing with their spiritual dirt, they pretended everything was okay.  They pretended to have it all together, but in their personal lives it was all falling apart.  Have you been there?  Have you at times pretended everything was okay, but deep inside you knew that there was dirt that needed removing?  That’s the conviction of the Holy Spirit!  He longs to cleanse us completely.  Without this continual cleansing – a full surrender is impossible.  We cannot run from this heart issue.  We have to confront the dirt.  Without confronting it, we will have this barrier between us and God.  The cleansing which comes from getting rid of the dirt is freeing as well!  Jesus went on to call these Pharisees “white washed tombs” – they looked good on the outside but on the inside they were dead inside.  This is a scary commentary by Jesus.  I hope and pray none of us receives this kind of appraisal of our spiritual lives.  I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to be dead inside.  I don’t want to pretend everything is “holy” on the outside but inside it is anything but holy.

Are you prepared to clean the inside of your cup?
Are there areas that still need cleansing in your life today?
It can be a barrier and without that cleansing a detriment to our faith journey.
So let’s confess to the Lord today and allow Him access (perhaps once again) to our hearts and hidden spaces of our lives that no one else sees.

Prayer:  Dear Lord, cleanse me from the inside out.  I want to be yours completely.  Show me the places that require your cleansing.  Cleanse my mind from all malice and unhealthy thought.  Wash me clean and make me whiter than snow so that I can move past any barriers that keep me from full surrender.  Lead me today Lord and show me your glory!  In Your name I pray all of these things.  Amen.


The Right To Live And To Die: Brittany Maynard

Brittany has died.

It is not my intention to glamorize anything about death or the choice to die.
Life is worth living…
but what happens when the life you have is cut short by a terminal illness?
What then?  I have a very hard time justifying suicide for anyone…but can we find fault in the search for dignity in death?

I look at the story of Brittany Maynard and her very difficult choice and I am saddened.  No one should ever have to face the knowledge that they have an incurable, terminal illness.  No one should ever have to face the knowledge that they only have months, even weeks to live.  Yet millions do each day.  Lives irrevocably changed.  It boggles the mind.

Brittany  Maynard chose to die while she still had the human faculties to remember her husband.  She chose to die while she still had the capacity to speak.  She chose to die while she still had the capacity to say goodbye.  Did you catch that, SHE chose.   I know I might receive a lot of heat from this, but I find it hard to equate her choice here to suicide when her life was utter agony and would soon end terminally anyway.  I find it hard to see this kind of suffering continue.  I don’t advocate suicide in any manner and even in this context it can become a very slippery slope in determining who and why one would choose this.

Yet…I mourn today.
I mourn for Brittany’s husband.  I mourn for her family.  This isn’t some sort of glamorized Hollywood movie, this is life…and death.  This is visceral.

I believe in a mighty God whose capacity for grace and mercy far exceeds my own understanding of it.   I believe in His ultimate healing for all afflicted lives and those who seek Him.  Of these things I cling to, for He holds the keys to life and death.  There is one thing that I do know, I am not the ultimate judge, God is and no one else can or should step into that role.   Despite our comprehension of right or wrong and our understanding of even life and death, I don’t think that we truly know the answers beyond the veil on this side of heaven.  What we can do, however, is to live our lives in such a way that others see Christ in us regardless of the circumstances that we face.  Does living for Christ provide us answers to these troubling questions?  Yes, Someday, but until then let’s be the best representation of God’s grace in a world that desperately needs that hope and Grace. -Just a thought.

Brittany Maynard Story

More to ponder…

Perspectives Day 1 Featuring John Mowers (Major) -” A Testimony From a Jar of Clay”



A Testimony from a Jar of Clay

“You have pulmonary sarcoidosis.”  The doctor said it like I should know what that meant.  He then asked me if I’d ever heard of sarcoidosis.  I replied “only on TV” – that it is always the wrong diagnosis on the popular television drama, House, M.D.

What it meant was that the chronic shortness of breath that I had been experiencing had a cause, and I would have to begin taking a strong steroid medication to control it and prevent the spread to other organs.   I recall how anxious I began to feel.  Nobody told me that the medication itself would heighten my sense of anxiety or that coming off the medication would induce feelings of depression.   But I made it through the 15 months or so of treatment, although I put on 40 pounds of extra weight.  I felt well enough to ask to return to corps work for the last four years of my officership.  I’d been stationed at Training Colleges for 11 years and I wanted to pastor a corps again.  So we were transferred to a corps in crisis.  I plunged into the pastoral care and preaching and administration that mark a large corps totally confident that we were where God wanted us to be.  Just to be safe I found a new doctor in the new city and started regular checkups.  Soon I was feeling the familiar shortness of breath and asked for some tests to be run.

Less than two years after my original diagnosis, a new doctor confirmed that the sarcoidosis was indeed worse and announced that the disease had progressed to stage four – meaning unlikely to respond to treatment.  “What can we do, doc?” I asked hopefully.  He shrugged and opined that I would be too old, too fat, and ineligible for a lung transplant due to the complicating pulmonary arterial hypertension I’d developed.  I began having to use oxygen at night and then for the exertion of strenuous activity.  Within three months strenuous activity included showering and tying my shoes.

As a corps officer, preaching had been one of my passions.   I had to give up a lot of direct programming because I couldn’t keep up with the kids.  I had to give up playing in the Corps Band, and sometimes singing with Songsters.  But my preaching had been unaffected.  Somehow, each Sunday, God gave me the strength to preach the message I’d developed and crafted.  Until the Sunday after Easter.

All morning long I struggled; I couldn’t catch my breath.  Usually I put the oxygen tank aside to preach but I knew I couldn’t do so that morning.  So I swallowed my pride and informed the congregation that I would be preaching with the cannula hose attached to a portable oxygen tank.  Then I made a joke that the noises from the valve make sounds like Darth Vader breaths. 

Somehow I got through that message and people seemed to have been helped and blessed.  As I reflected on what God may have been saying to me on that Sunday, the fourth chapter of 2nd Corinthians came to mind and I read again verse 7:

7 But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.

I guess I would have a right to be embarrassed if I failed to deliver the powerful message I’d crafted — if that message had been from me.  But God had laid the issues on my heart.  He had inspired the scripture I was expositing.  If power happens to leak out during the sermon, it is his power, his choice.  I am a vessel – a clay pot.

Paul goes on in verse 16:

16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.

My outer man had seen better days.  The wasting away had begun in earnest.  This disease took away my freedom, my natural powers, my dignity.  What I needed was the inner renewal because I seemed to be more prone to lose heart.  I mourned my losses and sometimes was depressed.  I felt so selfish – me, me, my, my, I.

But God gives the blessing of seeing his power at work in the words he has inspired me to preach.  My sermons seemed to help people.  I preached in Spanish at a Hispanic corps, and two seekers made their way to the altar.  As I reflected on that morning, I recalled what Paul heard from the Lord when he begged for his “thorn” to be removed (also in 2nd Corinthians):

9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me… For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:9-10 NIV)

I couldn’t boast about my weaknesses yet.  I needed some more grace for that.  But I experienced from time to time the soothing of renewal of my inner being (2 Cor. 2:16).  It wasn’t a magic bullet that killed my doubt and depression with a single shot. 

The future seemed to be certain for me – irreversible lung damage and an early “promotion to glory.”  Ironically like an episode of House MD, further testing revealed that the disease wasn’t sarcoidosis, rather a fibrosis disease within the lungs, and there was no cure.  We had to retire early.  We moved to Texas so that when I died, Nancy would be with our daughter, Jennifer.  We attend the Dallas Temple Corps where I was able to help with the Hispanic Ministry teaching the Spanish Sunday School class. 

My new doctor in Texas surprised me when he urged me to consider a transplant.  Remember that the Michigan doctor had told me I was ineligible for a lung transplant, but this hospital used different criteria.  I was approved for transplant in January, 2014, and received a bilateral (double) lung transplant two weeks later.

My recovery has been amazing.  I don’t need supplemental oxygen.  I can speak without shortness of breath.  I can sing again. 

I take medications that suppress my immune system and leave me open to infection, flu, and colds, all very dangerous when one has a compromised immune system.  Nothing is certain.  My body may yet reject the transplanted lungs.  There is no guarantee that I’ll be able to continuing preaching and teaching.

But I am convinced of this — that God uses jars of clay – the power is his, not mine.  He decides when and how it comes out.  And I am so grateful for God’s great grace. 

Major John Mowers

April 6, 2014

The Colony, TX, USA.





These scars are beautiful!


When I was a young boy I received a bicycle for Christmas, it was blue.  I rode that bike all over the place.  I loved that bike.  There is something freeing about those moments as a young kid riding a bike around town and facing new adventures with that new found freedom.  That freedom took me to the scene of my accident…that sounds more dramatic than it really was.  I fell off of my bike and in the process I gashed my knee open.  The “accident” wasn’t very traumatic or memorable with the exception that there was a lot of blood localized around a cut on my knee.  Upon further review I probably should have had stitches but it was bandaged and wrapped and slowly it healed.  In the healing process it itched, occasionally it burned, but over time it formed into a white lined scar right across my right kneecap.  It is still there to this day, though smaller just as that young boy was so long ago.  

We all have scars.  

Some scars are there to remind us of how foolish or negligent we’ve been in our lives while others were inflicted on us by an outside source.  Regardless of how they were formed they have become part of our identities now.  

Some scars though,  have not marked us on our bodies but rather our hearts and our minds through hurtful experiences inflicted by others around us.  These scars too are long lasting, some we carry with us to this very day and they mark us and are a part of our current identity.  

What kinds of scars do you have?  I would be willing to guess most of us carry with us both types of scars.  We have known the pain of physical afflictions and accidents which have left their marks on us, and we have also known the psychological and harming pain of scars of words slung our way and even the pain of losing a family member to death.  These scars cut us deep and leave their impression on us…sometimes for life.  

Can you recognize the beauty in your scars?   

We have lived.  We have not come through this life (thus far) unscathed.  We have experiences to share with others.  Wisdom to convey.   We have knowledge that we wouldn’t have possessed before earning (or falling victim to) these scars.  

Could I ever relate to a parent in mourning at the loss of their child?  No absolutely not.  I can empathize.  I can weep with them, but I cannot completely understand the heart-wrenching pain involved in that scar.   Although I cannot relate, other parents who have lost children along the way can share their wisdom and understanding during such a time of heart-wrecked agony.  These scars carry with them beauty.  Not because life is lost but because hope can be conveyed.  

I don’t wish to imply any of these scars are lovely when inflicted on us.  They burn.  They hurt…sometimes severely.  Sometimes they maim and disfigure us either physically or emotionally…but there is beauty on the other side of our healing.  There is knowledge and understanding…there is opportunity to relate with others and to help in their healing.  

From our scars to His…

“The Incredulity of Saint Thomas” by Caravaggio

Jesus held out His hands towards Thomas.  We call him “doubting Thomas”…I think we all can relate to him.  Jesus had died.  He had suffered horribly.  His agony had been witnessed, and there was no way to come back from that.  How could the other disciples say Jesus was now alive again?  How could they make Thomas’ soon to be scar in his heart hurt any more?  It was like salt on a fresh wound.  And so He doubted their accounts of a risen teacher.  He vehemently drew the line and was unwilling to cross it until (as if it would ever happen) He physically touched Jesus’ wounded body.  So the scars came to Thomas.  The wounded hands and feet of Jesus suddenly appeared to the disciples in a hide out along with the rest of their Savior.  He stood before them and Thomas had to place his hands into those nail scared hands and a spear pierced side…then He believed.  

Scars are beautiful…

I don’t mean to say that in a masochistic sort of way or idle fascination in pain and maiming, I mean that in relational love and experience.  Thomas placed his inexperienced hands in the nail scarred hands of the Savior and was forever changed.  Jesus knew what it was like to suffer.  Jesus knew what it was like to carry these scars with Him…and His beauty marked the hearts and left a sacred scar on His disciples.  

What was meant to be evil and  damaging in totality had become beautiful and life-giving.  What was meant to destroy and cruelly maim had become healing and salvation to all the world.  These scars are beautiful!  

Do you have scars like these that you can share with the world around you?  These are the scars of experience and understanding.  These are the sacred scars of healing and restoration.  These scars say “I understand and I can relate to what you are going through!”  God doesn’t bring these scars upon us, but He can bring something marvelous out of our trials and experiences.  The damaging things that this life and even Satan himself can throw at us God can turn into victories.  

The scars of a recovering alcoholic who has beaten the odds and stayed sober can lead other alcoholics to find Hope.  The scars of an abused woman who has turned her life around and escaped that wounding lifestyle of physical abuse can bring hope to another woman who is still stuck and imprisoned in that life of hell.  

Do you have scars?  
Can you bring hope?  
Do you have a story to share with one who needs to hear it?  
There is victory in the scars.  
There is hope in the nail scarred hands of a Savior who understands.  

These scars are beautiful!  


The Patron Saint of Last Ditch Efforts


She fought her way through the throngs of people.  Every inch was a battle, but her objective was in sight.  “If only I can reach him”, she thought, “maybe I can be healed.”  Still more people seemed to teem from neighboring dwellings as curiosity got the better of them and they had to see what this crowd was doing.  As Jesus continued to walk, so the crowd of people following Him grew as well, but she was determined to reach Him.  Finally after pushing past another person, she found herself directly behind him.  This was it.  This was her moment.  If she didn’t do it now her chance would be gone and so would the possibility of being healed.  She had heard of his miracles, that he could heal.  The woman had visited numerous “healers” yet none of them could help her.  She had all but given up any hope of complete restoration of her health, until she heard Jesus was coming.  Now, directly behind the healer, she reached out to touch him.  In her mind she had already believed that if he could heal her all she would have to do is touch him.  So with arms extended and fingertips stretching outward, she touches him.  What happens next not only confirms her belief, but ignites hope again within her heart and mind.  A power surge unlike any other is felt throughout her body.  What began as a simple touch of her fingertips sends a pulse of energy to her elbow, her shoulder, her hips, her knees and even her feet.  

Wide-eye and surprised Jesus suddenly stopped walking and turned to the crowd.  “Who touched my clothes?”  He asked.  Some of the crowd mumbled things like “we all touched you”, “I just bumped into you”, and “perhaps it was me”…but that wasn’t what Jesus meant.  He had felt power leave His body, and He looked for the one who had intentionally touched Him.  The woman who had suddenly been healed by the simple touch of his clothing knew instantly that Jesus was looking for her.  In just mere seconds she had a decision to make, she could simply disappear back into the crowd and go home, or she could admit to Jesus that it had been she who had touched Him.  She didn’t hesitate, but came forward and fell at His feet.  Perhaps she was afraid He would be angry that she hadn’t asked Him to heal her.  Perhaps she thought He might take His healing from her.  But she knelt anyway and admitted to Jesus that she had touched him in the hopes of being healed.  


Jesus’ response to her wasn’t anger or disappointment.  He looked down upon her with love and compassion and said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you.  God in peace and be freed from your suffering.” (Mark 5:34)  Her last ditch effort to find healing had paid off.  She had been desperate and had suffered greatly over the years from this malady, and now she was completely healed and free from disease and suffering.  

Isn’t that what Jesus does for all of us?  We suffer from so many issues in this life.  Some suffer from actual physical ailments and diseases, while others suffer from spiritual diseases that pillages and ravages the heart and mind.  Yet Jesus comes to all, and though perhaps we have tried everything else without success, Jesus is there before us.  Perhaps it’s time.  Perhaps it’s your last ditch effort to find healing that no one else can provide you with.  If only you would reach out and touch Him and find that He has the power to save ultimately and completely!  

This is the kind of “last ditch effort” that has an eternal outcome.  Belief isn’t easy, yet this woman so long ago, who was clinging to her last hope reached out to a Savior who healed permanently.  Will you reach out to Him today?  Are you willing to place your faith in His mighty power?  He wants us to all believe in Him.  He loves us so deeply and stands ready to heal and save.  

“Don’t let my son die!”


There are no lengths in which a parent will go to in order to save their child!  Few things in this world terrify a parent more than the threat of an illness or death of their child.   As a parent, my worst nightmare in this world is that something would happen to one of my children.  We love them dearly and we want them to live long, healthy lives free of harm and illness.

Such was the case of a royal official.  His story is found in John 4:43-54.   Jesus was back at the place where He had performed His first miracle at a wedding feast.   The wine is long dried up, yet memories of this epic event still linger.  Hearing the news that Jesus, the healer, was back in the area of Galilee, this royal official traveled twenty miles to find Him.  Leaving his sick child behind in this last ditch effort to heal him, the royal official is desperate.   As a parent I can imagine his heart wrenching panic and fear.  His son, whom he loves, is dying.  The distance is great, and yet if Jesus can heal him it will be worth it.


Finding Jesus, this worried father begs Him to come and heal his sick boy.  With tears streaming down his face and panic in his eyes he makes his plea to Jesus.  “Come!  My son is dying!”  This desperate man is facing his worst fear and not so much with his words, but with his eyes he is pleading with Jesus; “please don’t let my son die!

Others are gathered there too.   Listening and waiting expectantly for Jesus to do something…something miraculous.  Jesus looks at them and sighs.  They don’t understand who He is.  Their Messiah is standing right there in their midst and yet they still do not believe.  He says to them, “Unless you people see miraculous signs and wonders you will never believe.”  There is certain sadness in His words.  Jesus understands them all too well, and has struck at the heart of their disbelief.

For a moment, at the words of Jesus, this royal official is afraid He will not come.  There is a sinking feeling in the pit of his stomach as this last hope seemingly appears to evaporate.  Prompted by this momentary panic, he implores Jesus one last time; “Lord, please come before my son dies.”  Jesus looks at this frightened father and says; “You may go, your son will live.”

The father feels relief as he hears Jesus say those words.  ‘Could it be?  Is my son really healed?’  He hurries off to find out, taking Jesus at His word.  The twenty mile journey will take him over a day to reach home.  Yet while on the homeward trek his servants meet him.  They confirm this long distance miracle: his son is healed and very much a live!  What joy must have filled his heart!  His fears relieved, his son’s health restored!  A parent’s nightmare is lifted and is replaced with a dream come true!

This is what Jesus does.   The healer of the sick, the resurrector of the dead brings us hope and a chance at new life!  To any parent, this is a relief.  But to all Jesus comes and longs for everyone to believe in Him.  He can perform a miracle in your life.  He still heals and binds up the wounds of the sick, and He can still put broken lives back together again.  For this royal official, Jesus provided healing for his dying son.  For all of us, Jesus can and will provide the restoration that we need in our lives.


This Old House…Peeling back the paint


Sometimes recalling certain memories can be like peeling the paint from an old weathered house.  You know the old house needs it, it’s crying for it and yet the whole facade will change.  Peeling back the paint will remove the years of character and sometimes charm, but underneath it all you know the walls need to breathe, to be set free, and sometimes the old paint holds moisture in, green and molding smelling ripe like mildew.  All unseen by the naked eye without the begrudging labor of the paint peeler.

Withholding our memories, holding them at arm’s length, quivering like a lost puppy who whimpers and shies away from everything including a loving hand, we fear what we will find underneath it all!   We fear that others will be horrified when the truth is revealed…memories are like prison bars and razor wire fences.  We’re a captivated audience of one, too afraid to move…to make a break for it.  Too afraid of our own shadows lurking within corners that we’ve created.  Memories that we avoid do not fade, but rather they deepen in their staining.  And we within our self-made prisons peer out at them from behind our bar windows, clutching fragments of sun light instead of basking in it.

This old house needs a new, fresh coat of glossy clean paint that sparkles in the sunlit day and gleams when the stars in the night sky comes a callin’…but first this old decrepit brown weathered tinged paint must be peeled back…we must reveal our hurts, our wounds, our heartaches, we can’t just paint over the old for the old with infect and deflect the new.

So with weapon of choice in hand we, knowing it to be the right thing to do, must embrace the mess, confess to the wrongs, embrace what it is now, relish the opportunity to begin again.  Peel back the pain that harbors itself beneath the paint.  Let it breathe free and when the sun has baked its cold moisture away…this old house can take on a new creation.


Blog at

Up ↑