June 20, 2017/Cracked

Okay, I’m old, old-fashioned, and admit that I am easily shocked. I know it has been around for some time and another fashion will take its place, but I have NO wish to see some man’s ‘crack’ butt sticking out from his pants. (And I don’t want to see any woman’s thong crack, either.

There are some things that should be personal.

When I was younger, the only crack we worried about was the one on the sidewalk..and then we were busy stepping over it so we didn’t ‘break our mother’s backs’ as the saying went.

There are other ‘cracks’ you deal with as you age. The crack of bad hips and knees. The saying: “That cracks me up,” meaning laughter. The one that goes: “I’m cracking up,” which means you are losing your marbles (if you ever had them…)

But today I’m reminded of an old saying that my friend’s mother used to use. (I made her repeat it so I could write it down as otherwise, I might not remember.

Her saying goes like this: “Friendship’s like a teacup, costly rich and rare.
Once broken may be mended by the crack is always there.”

It’s true.

It is difficult to mend broken relationships. Much as you may want to forget a hurt completely, it is very difficult to do so. Yet, God clears our slate COMPLETELY.

1 John 1: 8-10-8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

We are vessels that easily ‘crack’ through sin. Repair, however, is simply a matter of confessing what led to the cracks and asking God to forgive us as Jesus taught. Amazingly, Jesus declares that once we are repaired, God will never ‘see’ that crack again.

That does not mean that we don’t bear accountability or responsibility for whatever sins we may have committed–that is OUR burden to fix. But God erases whatever cracks we may have when we seek true repentance.

I have a new saying: “Human are like china, sin always makes us err. Jesus offers God’s repentance, with just a simple prayer.

June 19, 2017/Award Me

My youngest granddaughter was promoted from sixth grade the other night, and I’m still trying to get over the ‘ceremony’.

What has happened to schools?

This was a celebration of selfish applause–from the parents, principle, board of education, and society.

Each and every class had ‘awards’ for Math, Science, Most Improved, Social Studies, and ELA (that is English/Language Arts for those in the know.)  There were twelve classes. Then there wer thirteen additional ‘special’ awards given by various groups. After sitting through all that, we had to have the individual teachers come up and read the names of their students AGAIN so they could stand. (They went to desks outside the auditorium to actually pick up their diploma.)

Beside the ignorance of parents who couldn’t follow instructions and had to scream, yell, and cheer for ‘their’ student you had to battle the huge bouquets of flowers and shield your eyes from the outfits worn by both students and parents.

This is SIXTH grade.

It would be hard enough to swallow at high school but at least you expect it then.

When did we decide that going to school and performing your best needed special recognition? When did we decide that we had to jump through elaborate hoops to celebrate a small passage of time and study?

My ‘job’ as a youngster was to go to school and get the best grades that I could. I was assigned that job by my father who told me that I’d better get used to working hard as I would be doing so for the rest of my life.

Working hard with no ‘recognition’ was expected. Among the LEAST recognized workers in our society are the ones we depend on the most–the FARMER. Yes, folks, all this technology is fun but it doesn’t FEED us. The people that feed us get their boots muddy and smelly. They put their hands places you might not want to think about too much. They don’t get vacations or holidays. They are toiling in the fields instead of relaxing in air conditioning. They are toned by their labor…not their health club.

God expects His children to work for Him out of LOVE, not the goal of reward…but He is careful to show us our ultimate benefit from that work. Loving Him and obeying His instructions on how we treat others will aid us in understanding and communing with our Heavenly Father.

Colossians 3: 23-25-And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ.  But he that doeth wrong shall receive for the wrong which he hath done: and there is no respect of persons.

God doesn’t care how much we have, how pretty we are, or how many awards and accolades we are granted while on earth. He won’t be picking us for our blog popularity, screen shots, or perfect make-up, hair, or body.

A lot of kids don’t get awards in life.

Some kids do.

What matters most in life is how you accept the challenges you will be handled and what/how you decide what is important to you. We are to approach life and work as if we are offering it to God…which, when you think about it, is exactly what we are doing!

 

June 17 & 18/No Athiests in Foxholes

There is a saying that goes back to a long way about there being ‘no athiests in foxholes’. This sums up the perception that when your life is endangered, people often review long-held beliefs and change them. No one really knows where it came from, but it seems to have become popular during World War II.

Many people today follow the theory that they have ‘plenty of time’ to decide the path they take in life. The thing is that no one knows how much time is allotted to us–as individuals or as a society. When I go out the door; when I go to sleep; when I type this passage…any moment could be the moment when I breathe my last.

Miracles happen. Many sports fans in the USA will attest to that citing the game when the USA Hockey team won against Russia in the 1980 Olympics. You couldn’t turn on the television without seeing and hearing the phrase: “Do you believe in miracles?” for some time.Many doctors are acquainted with ‘miraculous’ survivals of people they deemed near death. Just as we have miracles,we also have to deal with freak events that called catastrophes that come without warning.

Some things are certain, however.

We all die.

Christians also believe that we all will face a judgment before God.

When that will happen, no one knows. Jesus, himself, warned us to be ready. He will return.

Matthew 24:36-44- But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only. But as the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come. But know this, that if the goodman of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up. Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh.

Christ is giving us a clear warning not to ‘wait’ to make a decision on where we stand. It is pretty clear that if you knew what day a thief would break in, you’d have called the cops and had them waiting.

Your time to decide where you stand with God; how you feel about Jesus Christ; and what you deem of vital importance in your life is not unending. Yes, the sun may come out tomorrow…but will you be here to see it?

June 16, 2017/The Other Wonder Woman

Marriage is hard work…and women have always seemed to bear the brunt of at least 55% or more.

Despite what people may believe about ‘having it all’, all is never really achieved by status, or power…or even a tight outfit and super-powers. Wonder Woman’s strength and achievements are remarkable–but the power of a woman lies far beyond swords, arrows, and power.

 

Searching Scripture we see the illustrations of what makes women so valuable.

Proverbs 31: 10-31- Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies. The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil. She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life. She seeketh wool, and flax, and worketh willingly with her hands. She is like the merchants’ ships; she bringeth her food from afar. She riseth also while it is yet night, and giveth meat to her household, and a portion to her maidens. She considereth a field, and buyeth it: with the fruit of her hands she planteth a vineyard. She girdeth her loins with strength, and strengtheneth her arms. She perceiveth that her merchandise is good: her candle goeth not out by night. She layeth her hands to the spindle, and her hands hold the distaff. She stretcheth out her hand to the poor; yea, she reacheth forth her hands to the needy. She is not afraid of the snow for her household: for all her household are clothed with scarlet. She maketh herself coverings of tapestry; her clothing is silk and purple. Her husband is known in the gates, when he sitteth among the elders of the land. She maketh fine linen, and selleth it; and delivereth girdles unto the merchant. Strength and honour are her clothing; and she shall rejoice in time to come. She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness. She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness. Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her. Many daughters have done virtuously, but thou excellest them all. Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the LORD, she shall be praised. Give her of the fruit of her hands; and let her own works praise her in the gates.

That’s a long list of things to ponder. Yet, when reading this list you find many worthy attributes to applaud and inspire.

God has seen fit to create for us a list of characteristics we would be wise to seriously study.

June 15, 2017/Graduation

I remember when you had two graduations–high school and college. Nowdays, you have kindergarten graduation, sixth grade graduation, high school graduation, college graduation, masters graduation, and doctorate graduation. You are expected to ‘gift’ all of these.

I wish more time was spent in learning than testing. I wish more time was spent thinking about how to ‘use’ what you have learned rather than put silly letters behind your name. I wish schools would go back to the idea of ‘hands on’ experience and apprenticeship.

Moses gets it. After all he did for his people, he realized that his time was ending. They were going to need a new leader, and that leader needed to be prepared for the journey to come. Moses needed to come up with some spectacular wisdom to impart to his successor.

Deuteronomy 31: 6-8-Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the LORD thy God, he it is that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee. And Moses called unto Joshua, and said unto him in the sight of all Israel, Be strong and of a good courage: for thou must go with this people unto the land which the LORD hath sworn unto their fathers to give them; and thou shalt cause them to inherit it. And the LORD, he it is that doth go before thee; he will be with thee, he will not fail thee, neither forsake thee: fear not, neither be dismayed.

Graduation is about publically acknowledging that you have learned lessons. Now, we wait for those who make that claim to enter the ‘real’ world and show us what they have learned.

It isn’t always easy. New graduates make mistakes and bad choices. But new graduates also have a zeal and energy that those of us who have been walking in the ‘real world’ have forgotten.

Welcome graduates. You leave behind a lot of lessons, but you have more on the horizon. When you waver or worry, take a minute to listen to the advice Moses gave Joshua…then go forward in courage.

July 14, 2017/How do you Start?

I hate having to decide what to have for breakfast.

I begun each morning taking a pill which requires the stomach be empty. After a half hour to an hour, I have to make ‘the’ decision. What should I have for breakfast?

I have never been a big breakfast lover. I dislike cereal. I’m not big on pancakes or waffles unless it is really cold outside. Still, I know the body requires protein after the long night so I have to choose something.

Lately, I grab a scoop of cottage cheese, mix in a tablespoon of yogurt and then add some toasted slivered almonds and maybe a few blueberries or dried cranberries. Then I savor my first cup of coffee. That tends to keep me going for a bit. After that, I may grab some toast–or not. Or I may grab a protein bar with coffee.

I force myself to do this. I don’t really enjoy it. I know, however, that my health will be better for having breakfast than if I eat nothing and then stuff myself at lunch. For some reason, eating breakfast in the morning tends to keep me from overeating later.

David realized that he needed to begin his day with God. Doing so would sustain him. Beginning the day with prayer allows us to give thanks to the God who has seen us through the night.

Psalm 5: 1-3- Give ear to my words, O Lord, consider my meditation. Hearken unto the voice of my cry, my King, and my God: for unto thee will I pray. My voice shalt thou hear in the morning, O Lord; in the morning will I direct my prayer unto thee, and will look up.

I will look up. Consider my meditation.

We can pray any time of the day…and should do so. When we pray in the morning as we awake, however, we have time to simply give thanks and look up. Here is where we don’t ‘ask’ but simply ‘thank’ God for being who He is. Before the day begins to rattle us with difficulties, we can give praise.

Consider beginning your day by ‘looking up’. Even a brief prayer of thanksgiving may help you start your day brighter.

June 13, 2017/Lost in Space

Back in my day, we were at the beginning of space exploration. Even our television shows centered around space–STAR TREK, LOST IN SPACE, MY FAVORITE MARTIAN. Russians and Americans were in a race to explore and conquer, and there was a general excitement that man was on the cusp of landing on the moon.

With all the enthusiasm, however, came a degree of fear. We were heading into the unknown. Much like the robot in LOST IN SPACE, some people had a bit of: “Danger, danger, Will Robinson.”

I feel a bit like this today. While I usually try to write about the ‘positives’, I have been led to do a different path. I’m uncomfortable. When God directs, however, we learn that we must follow….

Christians are often accused of being unyielding, legalistic, uncaring separatists. While nothing could be further from our aspirations , in some cases there is a certain amount of truth to that proposition.

It would be nice to pick and choose the verses we ‘like’ in the Bible much in the same way people can ‘like’ something posted online–but God doesn’t work like that.

This may rile some people but I have to be starkly honest. Denominations of Christians are here because there are small issues Christians have chosen to argue over such as baptism, or how to take communion. Some sprinkle. Some dunk. Some cup their hands and allow the water to fall over. Some believe in squishy white bread. Some refuse wine in favor of grape juice. Some will only celebrate with matzoh.

The truth the matter is that beneath the squabbles over these divisions, the fact remains that Christians believe that Jesus approved and instructs people in the need of a public declaration of their faith just as He asked us to remember His sacrifice in order to keep God’s plan of centering the idea of forgiveness of sins as a way in which we could ‘erase’ our selfish/human condition for us to commune with Him.

Are things like baptism and communion a hallmark for our salvation?

No.

Our personal acceptance of Christ’s atonement as the Savior who bled and died for our sins covers our salvation. Baptism is simply a public expression as is communion. But, they are important…just as certain aspects of the divinity of Christ are important.

There are certain doctrines that one must accept and believe about Christianity.

The virgin birth; the perfect life of Jesus during His earthly ministry; His sinless offering as the lamb of atonement required by God resulting in His death; His resurrection from said death’ asking Him for not only forgiveness but to be the Lord in our lives is, in fact, the basis for Biblical truth in God’s plan.

Herein lies faith.

This is the Biblical truth found in John 3:16-For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believe that in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

This is the heart of the Scripture. IF Jesus Christ was not human and God in combination, then how does His death act as our atonement? IF He didn’t ‘really’ die. IF He wasn’t truly resurrected. IF we agree to believe the Bible is based on myth…why then would we bother to place our faith and trust in Him? Why would the early disciples have been willing to die for this belief? Why do so many still offer that stand around the world today?

Any other proposition in reading Scripture means one lessens not just the work established by God, but Biblical truth to the point that is the heart of Scripture.

Having said all this, it has become to clear to me lately that Christianity is on the verge of losing its heart. As sorry as I am to be blunt, when the truth smacks you in the face you cannot run from it.

2 TIMOTHY 4: 3-5-For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.

Christians, in their effort to be ‘fair and acceptable’ to the earthly judgment of ‘correctness’ have taken on such dilution of gospel principles that they are watering down the truth of Scripture. It is a sad consequence of trying to pretend that God sees our world as solely basked in love that they refuse to accept accountability, responsibility, or judgment.

Christians will always end up facing choices. Choices in their stand for God. Choices that may pit them against family and friends. Choices that may ultimately force us to stand against government directives. It is a scary prospect. It is a challenging thought. It is something we most of us would prefer not to consider.

Lately, I have been thinking more and more about the decisions forced upon the early Christians. I can hear the crowds cheering for their ‘entertainment’. I can feel the hot breath of the pacing lion. I can smell the metallic odor of fresh blood.

I can sense the turning point that awaits us.

It is easy to proclaim the ‘choice’ that we will make when we are forced into a decision on whether to stand, ignore, or give in when we are compelled to make a choice between religion and government. Like Peter, however, what we believe we will do does not always come to pass.

It is time to begin serious thought as to where you stand; as to whom you owe allegiance; as to what you believe. Then it is time to set all that aside and give it over to God…for if and when we are faced with these decisions, He has told us that He will give us the words.

Luke 12: 11 & 12-And when they bring you unto the synagogues, and unto magistrates, and powers, take ye no thought how or what thing ye shall answer, or what ye shall say: For the Holy Ghost shall teach you in the same hour what ye ought to say.

God expects Christians to be discerning. He expects us to study and meditate on His word. He expects us to truly ponder the paths we should walk and the matters on which we stand.

Then He expects to give all that over and lean on Him. Whatever way we walk..whether chained together facing lions, debating whether to wear a cross around our neck, speaking the good news to strangers, or facing life and death choices, we are to hear Him and follow Him.

It is okay to listen to the ‘warnings’ that abound from robots, but we are not to give in to fear but pray unceasingly and trust Him to guide.