What Would You Like Today?

“Place your order when you’re ready.” “Would you like to try our new chicken sandwich today?” “What can I get for you?” “What would you like today?” It’s what we hear from our favorite (or most convenient) waist building, cholesterol raising, arterial clogging fast food joint. Whatever form the question takes, it all comes down to this: “What do you want today?” Now there’s a question, a question we all answer–but seldom think about HOW we answer it.

Yesterday as I sat in the doctor’s waiting room with my Dad, waiting for his name to be called, there was a certain gentleman (I use this term very loosely) who wanted to be annoying by talking very loud on his cellphone. Fortunately he did not have it on speakerphone. That was left up to another person who answered one of those calls, ON SPEAKERPHONE, where everyone in that large waiting room heard, “Press 1 for blah blah blah, Press 2 for more blah blah blah…” Oh, and let’s not forget the individual who was watching some ad on his tablet WITHOUT Bluetooth ear buds. I doubt–I hopefully doubt–that none of the 3 aforementioned individuals wanted to be annoying when they awakened from their sleep. Nonetheless, their decisions and actions said, “Today I want to be annoying!”

What’s my point, other than silence that %$%^&**# phone when at the doctor’s office? Today, July 31, 2021 you choose what you want for this day. It can be a day of joy or misery. A day peace or heartache. A day of contentment or a day of contentiousness. We can’t always control what happens to us–but we are in control of how we respond. How we respond comes out of what we want.

When Nehemiah finished his building project, the people came together and Ezra began reading God’s words to their ancestors. Those words made them realize they had been wanting the wrong things–so they started wailing and crying. But listen to what Nehemiah told them in Nehemiah chapter 8 verse to: “This day is holy to God. Don’t feel bad. The joy of God is your strength!” (The Message).

Order when you are ready. I think I will have the Joy of God! Your turn, make your choice, but make it wisely!

Time Sensitive! Open Immediately!

Long before the Wacky World Web, it was the U.S. Postal service that faithfully delivered the email equivalent of spam: Junk Mail. Most of them had these infamous words: Time Sensitive, Open Immediately. Oh my gosh! We better open that letter up or we are going to miss out on something absolutely fantastic; so wonderful that if we don’t open it up our lives will somehow be less fantastic and wonderful. Hopefully no one feels that way. This type of Snail Mail has a special location for it: We call it File 13. For the pitiful souls who do not know the meaning of File 13, I’ll explain it to you: It’s the trash can!

And once it is placed in File 13, no one wakes up in the middle of the night rummaging through File 13 to find that piece of mail and see what they almost missed; at least I pray not! Though in these times, I would not be surprised if people did this–not in the least surprised. But–there is another Time Sensitive, call it a package, that many people place in File 13. It’s is called Time! It is delivered to us–well–all the Time. And it is “Time” Sensitive. When it’s gone, it’s gone–novel idea! And when it’s wasted–you can’t go back. It’s like trying to put toothpaste back in the tube after you sneezed as you were applying it to the toothbrush. Once out it doesn’t go back in!

Not only is Time being wasted by so many–there is an even a worse phenomenon happening–it’s called Trifling it away. We don’t use this word much anymore–but we should. It’s spending the most important gift of all on things that can only be described as niggling, nugatory, vapid, jejune, banal–and if you don’t know the meaning of those words, here’s a word your size: Valueless. Would you go into the convenience store to buy a candy bar and give the clerk a hundred dollar bill and walk away without the change? Of course not! (I use this illustration fully aware that with the current inflation, that is what a candy bar may cost–when you add the extra taxes government wants to add because you aren’t eating healthy foods!)

So, starting right now–not today, because that gives you the opportunity to continue Trifling away this Sensitive gift called Time–open up this gift to all the adventures and opportunities that are awaiting you! And do not forget that opportunities often come with challenges–but the good ones are worth whatever challenges there may be. Time is to be used wisely. I don’t mean we live like a Gloomy Gus! God wants life to be enjoyed. But it will never be fully enjoyed by Trifling it away. Trifling has hard and painful consequences.

Tons of items have that mandatory Best If Used By date. So does your life–but that date isn’t stamped on the bottom of our feet. Today you may get that Time Sensitive phone call about the extended warranty for your vehicle because everything that makes your vehicle go has an expiration date. Milk has an expiration date. Our life has an Expiration Date–you just don’t know that date. Here is a Truth that will stand for all Time from James chapter 4 and verse 14–“What do you know about tomorrow? How can you be so sure about your life? It is nothing more than mist that appears for only a little while before it disappears.” (CEV)

Use your Time in ways that increases the value–of your own life and the lives of others! And you will not get a phone call offering you an extended warranty for your life. Wait a minute–as a matter of fact–you are receiving that call RIGHT NOW and it is TIME SENSITIVE! Jesus said in John chapter 10 and verse 10–“A thief comes only to rob, kill, and destroy. I came so that everyone would have life, and have it in its fullest.” Don’t Trifle your Time away. Make it like a Chocolate Truffle–a sweet delicacy meant to be enjoyed!

The most dangerous Christian

Something to think about from Mel. I want to turn two of his statements into questions: Do you fight for victory or fight from victory? Do you just believe in Jesus, or do you believe like Jesus? These are my words, but they are worth sharing!

In My Father's House

The most dangerous Christian in the world is not the one who knows the Bible frontwards and backwards, the firebrand preacher, or even the most uncompromising believer. The most dangerous Christian is the one who has entered into the cooperative process with Jesus and has allowed Him to touch every part of their soul.

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An Inch Is An Inch Is An Inch–Or Is It?

Have you ever closely examined a measuring tape? You should because they teach us an important lesson about life–to be more exact–how to live in the way that makes us whole and complete. You didn’t know that? My ESPN just kicked in and someone just thought: “How in the word does a measuring tape do that?” Well, I’m so glad you asked.

An inch is an inch is an inch is an inch. Be it a Stanley Tape Measure, or a DeWalt, or a Milwaukee, or a Lufkin, or a Klein, or a Ryobi, or a Rigid, or one of those cheap store brands. Compare them all, lay them side by side–one inch is the same on all of them–well maybe except those cheap store brands. There might be one that is two one thousands of an inch off–but there is consistency! At least close enough for government work.

If you are building a house, this is a comforting thought–that the architect, all the carpenters, plumbers, electricians, flooring installers, and HVAC folks are all using the same inch for their work. But–and I must throw this out there–WHAT IF the measurements each is using is different from all the others? The carpenter’s tape measure is different from the architect’s–the plumber’s is different from both of those. No one is using the same standard. Your bathroom may end up in a closet, and the master bedroom may be on the front porch. What? Man, my ESPN is really tuned in today.

Someone was just thinking: “That is so preposterous to even think about! There is no way on God’s green Earth that would happen!” And you’re probably right. But–this happens on something far more serious and important than building houses. It happens when people are building their lives. Lives are built upon this thing called ethics. This word comes from the Greek word ethos which means character.

A person’s character can be good–or it can be bad–based on their chosen system of morality. The predominant one today is based on a system originally called Situational Ethics, which, by the way, began as an alleged Christian Teaching (not sure how it qualifies as “Christian” though). The rightness or wrongness of decisions and actions cannot be determined by moral absolutes, but by the situation a person is in. In 1966, this over-educated man by the name of Joseph Fletcher unleashed a firestorm when he brought Situational Ethics into the limelight of academia. Overnight, people had a new way to do what they wanted without interference from those old-fashioned Judeo-Christians morals.

Today it’s called Contextualization. Right and wrong are no longer standardized. It’s about you, your situations, your feelings, your understandings. An inch is no longer an inch across the board. Contextualization is a way to justify disobedience to the long established, tried and proven orthodox values of morality. One is free to pick and choose whatever they like from the Bible–and disregard the parts they don’t like. An inch is no longer an inch. It’s whatever you Contextualize it to be.

I wonder if Paul had a vision of the 21st century when he wrote to Timothy in 2 Timothy 3:16, “All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. Of course, those who love Contextualization would say that it fits for Timothy’s day, but not ours.

The Greek word Paul used for Scripture is graphē and it means something written. For Timothy it would have been what we call The Old Testament. And Paul was confident that The Holy Spirit that opened Paul’s eyes to those Scriptures, would also open Timothy’s eyes. And fortunately for us today, we also have the New Testament.

And there is another Greek word being misused today–Rhema. It literally means an “utterance” or “thing said”. The misuse happens when Contextualization trumps Biblical Values. Rhema is a spoken word. Now, Jesus wasn’t called Rhema by John; He is called Logos–that self existent light of truth. Human Rhema does not have the power nor authority to override Scripture. While the proponents of Contextualization consider themselves Rhema, I see them for what they are: Tauros Onthos!*

(*Greek word for bull=tauros Greek word for manure=onthos. That’s all I got to say about that.)

Pray for Souls in Crisis

Here is something to make you cry–and hopefully inspire you to intercede for all the unborn children who are thrown out like yesterday’s garbage.

Walking Beside the Boat by R.G.Henley

What would you expect the news response in our nation to be if we suffered an attack, accident, or incident that resulted in 2,362 deaths in a single day? Beside this staggering figure, even the number of US military losses in the attack on Pearl Harbor – some 2,335 souls – is eclipsed. Only the final count of the Twin Towers collapse, generating a bone-chilling 2,726deathcertificates, surpasses that number. How would we expect our national news to respond?

Silence. The response is silence. We know this, because each day in the United States of America an average of at least 2,335* living, growing unborn children are torn from their mothers’ bodies. Their mangled bodies are reassembled and then discarded as medical waste. A very few will survive the ordeal. They will be shut away, out of sight and unaided, to die alone in their suffering. They are not even…

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A Different View

Alas! Our culture continues to persist, wallow, and drown in “the immediate”. The technical term is “instant gratification”. Some things are not meant to be instant. Instant mashed potatoes? Dear Lord, NO! Instant tea? Heaven forbid! And instant coffee? That is an abomination straight out of the depths of hell! While this phenomena of “instant gratification” has been around several decades, today’s culture has improved and refined it to a lower art form and a whole new depth of wretchedness.

Now it is more than “instant gratification”–it has become The Culture Of Ignored Consequences”! But why am I surprised at this development? Focusing only on the present always leads to heinous and horrid conclusions. At one point our culture could not see beyond the end of their nose. Now they cannot see beyond the bridge of their nose. It is daft, demented and deranged that they become so upset when those Ignored Consequences come in like a storm surge in a hurricane.

But what if? What if we started looking further than the roots of our eyelashes? What if we started taking a longer view of life? What if we started looking further down the road BEFORE we made decisions, choices, and taking action? I know that to many I may sound like a schizo and have several loose screws–but there really is both hope in wisdom in taking The Longer View Of Life.

The Longer View will eliminates things like fear, dread, confusion, chaos, and anxiety. The Longer View is where we begin to form deep, lasting strength and maturity. I mean, who makes one visit to a fitness center and expects to walk out with 40 pounds less fat and 20 pounds of more muscle? The writer of Hebrews gives us both insight and a reason to take This Longer View Of Life.

All these people died still believing what God had promised them. They did not receive what was promised, but they saw it all from a distance and welcomed it. They agreed that they were foreigners and nomads here on earth.

Hebrews 11:13 (NLT)

Tell you what! If you do not like The Longer View, go out right now and run your own marathon–and finish it! Most of you would think such a task would be more than crazy–but impossible. And you would be right. Marathon runners know it takes time–a long time–to build up the strength to run a marathon–and in case you did not know or forgot–a marathon is 26.2 miles. And life is more than the present moment–it is even more than a journey of years. It is an eternity. So start looking for what lasts longer than one day after the factory warranty expires–starting looking for and investing your life in what will last for eternity. You will be a lot more happier if you do.

New Discovery Brings New Meaning To The Lincoln-Douglas Debates

Did you know at one time that each state’s legislature selected their Senators for the U.S. Senate? One contentious battle for that seat happened in Illinois in 1858 between the incumbent Stephen Douglas and this guy named Abraham Lincoln. They had a series of 7 debates, each man hoping to sway the Illinois legislature to select them. And it has been taught that the hot button topic was on the expansion of slavery into the U.S. Territories. But recently an old barn in Illinois was being demolished and a newspaper from a now defunct newspaper, The Roof Leak Weekly, sheds new light on this hot topic button.

According to an article in that recently discovered issue of Roof Leak Weekly, it wasn’t the issue of slavery, rather it was the issue of the Internet. Douglas insisted, at time shouting, “Everything you read on the Internet must be true–nay–IT IS TRUE!” Well, Abe took the opposite view frequently stating, in a small voice, “Now hold on to those reins Stephen. Just because it’s on the Internet doesn’t mean there is even a small morsel of Truth. My father taught me that right after he caught me cutting down the cherry tree.” This discord became the single bone of contention between these gentlemen–at times nearly coming to blows betwixt them. This is according to The Roof Leak Weekly–and if The Roof Leak Weekly said so, then it is so! Now you knew the real Truth about the Lincoln-Douglas Debates. By the way, in case you did not know, Lincoln won the debates, but lost the election to the U.S. Senate.

Are you scratching your head, wondering if I hit my head really hard yesterday with this opening? Do you think me preposterous, loony, wacky, daffy, dippy, flaky, incongruous, nutty and screwy for such statements? Well, since you’re reading this sentence, it means it’s on the Internet, so it must be true! OK, OK, I said OK! You caught me in a moment of Sagacious Sarcasm. As ridiculous as my nonsensical news about those famous debates sounds, so is a lot of other impedimenta being put out on the Wacky World Web–sometimes referred to as The Internet!

There is a plethora of conspiracies and truths out there hidden behind every tree that the government doesn’t want YOU to know. They are being kept in a secret government bunker under lock and key in a vault and under the control of just a handful of people who are more than afraid–they are TERRIFIED and PANIC STRICKEN that anyone else would know The Truth. Fox Mulder was right–“The Truth is out there!” But alas, do not despair. Remember Stephen Douglas’ assertion on the truth of the Internet! And if The Truth is out there–and it is according to Fox Mulder–some hero will manage in infiltrate that secret government bunker to find it–or find someone with access to that secret government bunker who is tired of lying to the masses and will get The Scoop On The Truth to some Internet Crusader!

Here’s an example: The COVID-19 Vaccine. I’ve had both doses of the Moderna vaccine and as proof I have been and continue to be unaffected by the vaccine, here is my latest selfie:

Seriously folks, there are side effects to every medication. Have your read the warning label on acetaminophen? Or when a physician orders your a prescription do you read about all the side effects? But there are pseudo-scientists and lazy researchers who are experts in their own illusionary world telling us all kinds of things about the vaccine. But hey! It’s on the Wacky World Web so it must be true.

Did you just hear that? In case you didn’t, it was the sound of a heavy, heavy, heavy, heavy sigh from the depths of my mind and heart. It’s not just on vaccines–name any subject and somewhere is an alleged and lazy pseudo-journalist that can find that there the truth is out there–in that heavily secured underground government bunker in an unknown location (which at this time some pseudo-journalist is searching for and will find that secret underground government)!

It seems there are many, too many people out there who are quick to believe in and will pay double the price for the snake oil. I know many of them, and you probably do, too! At the risk of sounding older than dirt–How I long for the good old days when people would think for themselves–and had enough common sense to know what Abraham Lincoln knew so long ago–That Everything You Read On The Internet Isn’t True!

Did You See That?

When I was the Spiritual Director for the New Covenant Emmaus Community, it was easy for me to write weekly devotions for the community. A lot of my stories came from our grandchildren, our smart and wonderful grandchildren–they are quite an inspiration to me. I could write from viewing scenes in God’s glorious creation, or a sign going down the road. It was really quite easy for me to write a weekly devotion.

Then I started this blog. And it seemed, at least for a season, there was a never ending supply of materials from which to write about; to share insights, to challenge, and hopefully to inspire others. But then I quite writing (to my followers, I guess you noticed that!). I could blame the pandemic, the Democrats, the Republicans–but the fault lies all on me! And why? That’s what I’m going to write about. I couldn’t really decide on a topic today–so the topic chose me: Why I Quit Writing!

I was looking in the wrong places. Ha! Ha! Forget that thought–I wasn’t looking at all. My focus had been taken off where God is always present and always at work. So today, amidst all the news reports and the bickering and fighting, let me challenge you, inspire you to realize what I finally realized: That I choose what I focus on! And so does everyone else.

You see, even if you don’t focus on anything, you are focusing; on a vast void. And that void is, what I would call–thanks to my good friend Andy Andrews–the lack of wisdom. God is still on the Throne, Jesus is still present–and He is still speaking to us through the Holy Spirit. And I close out with this.

One day I was walking around the yard, as I frequently do, I made the full “lap” around our place. As I was coming up from the back, I looked and there was deer–in our yard! Being an ardent and zealous hunter, that deer grabbed my attention. I did not have my rifle–and it wasn’t hunting season. She was watching me and I was watching her. Just then a second deer slowly walked across our front yard and also stopped. They were looking at me, and I was looking at them.

And what I saw wasn’t meat in the freezer–I saw 2 beautiful creatures of God. Besides, both needed to get a little bigger to shoot. (Sorry PETA, I am not a vegetarian.) But I was simply amazed at the beauty and wonder of God’s glorious creation. So, today Be Amazed! Be Amazed at everything God has for you; the things God has put in creation for you, and I, to enjoy–or to do what I did. Just to stop and marvel at the beauty that God has for us.

If all you want to see is ugliness–dear Lord almighty and Heaven help us–there is an abundance of things that will lead us to despair. But remember, you choose where you are looking. I think I am going to watch God a little more closer.

Love God with all your heart. Love others the He loves you. And make sure all the glory goes to Him!

It Runs Good But It Doesn’t Have Brakes

With frequent regularity, I browse Facebook Market place. Sometimes I may be looking for something specific–or I may just look at an item because it grabs my attention. Such was the case this morning with the above picture. I have this identical 4-wheeler–same year and model. So I took at look.

Did you read the description?

  • Runs and drives good
  • No brakes
  • New axle
  • New rear end
  • New Tires

Did you catch the second item? I highlighted it for you just in case you missed it. No brakes! Being a seasoned 4-wheeler operator, I know for a fact that without brakes–though it may run and drive real good–you will still need to stop. You can stop without brakes–it just takes a while longer. Unless–you run into something. For me at least–to run and drive good, brakes are essential.

What does this have to do with the Kingdom Life? We need to stop at regular and often frequent intervals. Without stopping to rest (I mean, God worked 6 days and rested on the seventh) it puts us in serious jeopardy. Stopping helps us gain perspective–and will give us that moment to focus on God, rather than everything else. You need to come to a complete STOP! Not those rolling stops at stop signs. Do that in front of a police officer and you may get a ticket for NOT stopping.

Remember the words of David:

“Be still, and know that I am God!

    I will be honored by every nation.

    I will be honored throughout the world.”

Psalm 46:10 (NLT)

The best part of your day is when you stand still in the presence of God. This will enable you to know who He is (He’s God, that means you’re NOT), how much He loves you, and how He will guide and help you through whatever comes your way. Be still, just be still!

What The What?

Dysphoria–it’s a word frequently used in our culture–especially in the realm of gender identity. And it is being especially applied to children and adolescences. There was a time when Genesis 1 verse 27 was sufficient: “So God created human beings in his own image. In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” This was the rule–with the exception of chromosomal abnormalities. Simple, look below the waist–and there’s your gender, period!

But with the inflation and over evaluating of the most unreliable of human sensations–that of ‘feelings’–we now have multiple choices. Gee, whiz! How could God get this so wrong! The term “gender dysphoria” which Child Mind Institute defines is this:

Gender dysphoria was created as a distinct disorder to clarify that being transgender, or identifying as a gender different from the one of your birth, is not in itself a psychiatric disorder. The new disorder was meant to remove the stigma from being transgender, and to shift the concern of mental health professionals to assisting those for whom the experience of being transgender has resulted in significant distress and impaired functioning.

https://childmind.org/guide/guide-to-gender-dysphoria/

Recently in Tuscaloosa, Alabama a father was interviewed about this very issue. He was affirming that his son, now his daughter, has every right to make such a life-changing decision and encouraged other parents who have dysphoric children to enable their children to follow his example. But what IF–the parents said to that child, “Look, we feel like you are more of a daughter than a son. And we want to help you, make the necessary decisions for you to become our daughter. After all, that is how we feel about you.”

Does this really make sense to you? To anyone? Some would reply, “It’s not up to you and how you feel. You have neither the intellect or wherewithal to make such a decision!” But what if their feelings are very real? Shouldn’t they have this right based on their feelings? When one insists that it is legitimate to travel on the road of feelings, this is where that road will eventually AND inevitably lead us.

The real dysphoria of out is not about gender identity–the dysphoria is about the Truth–to be exact–the source of Truth. Do you know what the word dysphoria means? It’s not psychobabble invented by psychiatrists. It means: melancholy, restlessness, despondency. As long as one lives outside The Truth of God’s Design for life–dysphoria is where we will live, and where we will die.

Can 12 People Kill Millions? Thoughts on the Misinformation Dozen

image from Cognizant

Recently our President Biden et al., based on information from a report by the Center for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH), espoused that 12 people were responsible for killing people in this mess called COVID-19. He furthered asserted that their weapon of choice for killing people is the (in)famous FACEBOOK. Does this mean he wants to ban Facebook like he longs to ban guns? President Biden gas since tried to soften this words with the social media giant–but that’s like try to put the egg back into the chicken after it’s laid.

According to The Guardian, these 12 people, dubiously classified as The Misinformation Dozen, “have a combined following of 59 million people across multiple social media platforms, with Facebook having the largest impact.” Doing the math, this means each one has 4,916,666.666666667 people buying into (and thus selling) their Misinformation. How can 1 person have the clout and amplitude to influence and control 4,916,666.666666667 people. (As far as that .666666667 person, we all know someone who checks all the boxes.)

I could assert that the President’s declaration of war against The Misinformation Dozen is lunacy, absurdity, and derangement all rolled into one neat package. And I’m equally sure that some would agree with me and some would vehemently disagree with me. And to argue would be an exercise in futility and ineffectuality. There are better ways to expend my time and energy.

But then I got to thinking–so buckle your seat belts and remained seated until this plane comes to a complete stop. Maybe it isn’t so crazy and I haven’t gone berserk this morning. But the day is still young! Wasn’t there another Dozen a long time ago that influenced some 3,000 people at one time? Well, technically there were 120–but 108 of them had already been influenced by them and their incredulous story about 1 man named Jesus. And if memory serves me accurately, they were accused of spreading Misinformation.

No, I’m not saying The Misinformation Dozen are telling the truth. What I am saying, and I’m saying this to those who wear the title “Christian”, (I prefer the title Follower And Disciple Of Jesus) if 12 people can influence 4,916,666.666666667 people with Misinformation 4,916,666.666666667 people each–imagine how many more people that the Followers And Disciples Of Jesus could in influence with The Truth that sets men and women free! I’m just sayin’. . .I’m just sayin’

picture from imgflip.com

COOKIES!

Today my affliction of random thoughts has directed my attention to cookies! Honestly, I don’t know if I really like them–in fact, I’m frustrated with them a bit. Oh, no! Not those sweet delectable orbs of manna from above–my personal favorite it the white chocolate macadamia nut cookie! I’m talking about these little zeros and ones that infest our computers, smart phones, and tablets which keep “track” of our activities on the internet.

Have you noticed that when you are looking or shopping for something online, that in just a short time, ads for that item start appearing on other websites? And just in case you didn’t know, that website you were shopping on left your computer some cookies for the next website to create for you that “personal” experience. Personally if they want to create a personalized experience for me–I’d rather they give me a couple of dozen white chocolate macadamia nut cookies.

So what does my random thoughts about cookies have to do with the Kingdom Life? Whatever we “look” at each day whether it involves a computer or not, leaves behind a “tracking cookie”. And that “tracking cookie” will reappear–in our minds and in our hearts. The purpose of those “computer cookies” is to get you to spend (also known as ‘invest’) your hard earned money with this company or that company. The logic behind it is that if you see enough ads, then you will be enticed to buy–more than enticed–but to buy!

So, today and for the rest of your life, look at something different–something that doesn’t take away from your net worth–but adds value to your life. It’s call The Fruit Of The Spirit! Paul wrote in Galatians chapter 5, verses 22 and 23: “And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.” “Looking” at such things will continue to stay with you throughout the day–and if you’re serious about it–for the rest of your life. Now, if you will excuse me, I need to see if we have any white chocolate macadamia nut cookies.

This One Or This One?

As I mentioned, a couple of weeks ago I went to my optometrist because–well because it was time. Though I have going to an optometrist since I was 12 years old, it doesn’t mean I look forward to it–or that I’ve grown accustomed to seeing one. I haven’t! I mean, it’s like taking a test, right? “Which one, this one or this one? Number 1 or Number 2? Or are they about the same?” Sometimes the difference is noticeable to me–and sometimes it’s hard to tell.

I went to a different optometrist because we had moved since my last eye exam. On one such comparison (Number 2 or Number 1? Or are they about the same?), I was obviously taking too long to give an answer (have I mentioned I hate tests?), because Dr. Clark said, “Now both of them are going to be a bit blurry, just tell me which one is less blurry, or if there is no difference between them.” My mind was telling me that I had better make the right choice or you will be spending a lot of money for nothing.

Comparisons can be difficult to make. Tell me, do you compare yourself with…other people? It can be very uplifting if it is obvious that you are better than the other person. But there is a flip side–it can be very discouraging when you see someone is doing something better than you. Human nature being human nature–we try to avoid the latter.

But there is one comparison that is obvious and very clear that a distinct difference exists. It is from 1 Peter chapter one verses 15 and 16–“But now you must be holy in everything you do, just as God who chose you is holy.  For the Scriptures say, “You must be holy because I am holy. Forget that! God is perfect–and me? I’m a far cry from perfect–and so are you. How is this going to help us? If God expects perfection–and He does–then I might as well give up!

And this puts me in the “perfect” place–the perfect place to stop trying to be holy–and allow my Creator, my Heavenly Father, my Savior, my Comforter to do what He does best. Being holy isn’t the result of our efforts, but it is the product of God’s work of grace in our hearts. What I need to do is let Him work by following Jesus. And then moment by moment, bit by bit, it becomes obvious that there is a difference–a difference between the current me and the me I’m becoming!

Running On Empty!

(Image from MentalFloss.com)

If you ever see the above picture while driving your vehicle–you better be hoping that a gas station is just ahead. Here’s an eye-opener: Our vehicles will not operate without fuel–be it gasoline or diesel. And if you have ever heard the dying sound of an engine when the last drop of fuel is consumed. . .well, it just doesn’t sound good. You can trust me one this one. Yes, yours truly has been guilty of saying, “Oh, I’ve got plenty of gas to get there.” I was wrong!

What does an empty fuel tank have to do with the Kingdom Life? Glad you asked! It’s the perfect analogy of what happens to our life when we ignore our need to be refueled with the Holy Spirit. We sputter, jerk, and slowly come to a complete stop–and we can’t get to our next destination. While I’ve been guilty only a couple of times of running out of gas–this latter image of running out of spiritual fuel has unfortunately happened more that a couple of times.

Our–call it “heart”, “spirit”, or “soul”–needs constant attention. Without this constant attention to the “fuel gauge” we will, sooner than later, run out of the fuel we need in this journey with Jesus in His Kingdom. So how do we keep the tank full, as it were? The price of fuel for our vehicles is getting higher, and it can put a dent in our household budget. But the fuel for our Life In Christ? It’s already been paid for by our Heavenly Father. We call that Grace.

How do we fill ‘er up? The same way as we do our vehicles. We pull up to the pump and either get out of the vehicle or have someone pump it for us. The spiritual version of this event is that we come to our Father, and ask for a fill-up. My way of doing this is starting my day with music and prayer. Sometimes the song I’m listening to becomes my prayer. I block out any distractions–and when those distraction get through, I consciously choose to give them the boot. After all, this is My Father’s and I time. My “tank” isn’t full and for what I will be facing each day–it needs to be full even before I start–and often times I have to stop in the middle of the day for some more “fuel”.

The “fuel” we use is none other than The Holy Spirit–God’s Holy Presence. You don’t fill up you vehicle just once–depending on how far you’re going–you may need even more fuel. So, remember what Paul tells the folks at Ephesus Church:

17 Don’t act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do. 18 Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit, 19 singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, and making music to the Lord in your hearts.

Ephesians 5:17-19

Afraid Of What Is, Or Afraid Of What Might Happen?

Image from BBC Science Focus Magazine

You may find it hard to believe what I am about to say; but Fear Is Rampant In Our Culture! Democrats are afraid of what the Republicans might do. Republicans are afraid of what the Democrats might do. Libertarians are afraid of both. Seriously though, just look around and it is easy, so easy, TOO easy to find things that have the capacity to make us afraid.

And here’s the irony of it all: it doesn’t have to be true, or possible, or even probable to make people Afraid! Imaginary fears are just as potent as my very real fear of snakes in order to harm us. For many, fear is more than an every day battle; it is a moment by moment ongoing battle. This battle happens whether one admits it or denies it. Fear paralyzes us into the wrong action or indecision. Just ask the squirrel pancakes you see on the roads.

So what can a person do? The answer is rather easy. But the solution isn’t simplistic. What gets makes fear run like the wind in fear? It isn’t faith–it’s Love! But not just any love–the fields of life are strewn with the casualties of embracing and pursuing the wrong kind of Love. John gave us the answer long ago in his letter we call 1 John, Chapter 4, verses 17-18:

God is love. When we take up permanent residence in a life of love, we live in God and God lives in us. This way, love has the run of the house, becomes at home and mature in us, so that we’re free of worry on Judgment Day—our standing in the world is identical with Christ’s. There is no room in love for fear. Well-formed love banishes fear. Since fear is crippling, a fearful life—fear of death, fear of judgment—is one not yet fully formed in love.

(The Message)

John said that God is love. So, if we live in God, and God lives in us, we give love, as The Message puts it, the run of the hose, becomes at home and mature in us. Remember I said getting rid of Fear is simple, but it’s not simplistic. It requires us to surrender and submit to God–not just once–but over and over again–moment by moment. God’s love assures us we do not have to be afraid of Judgment–provided we live in Him and allow Him to live in us. And if we do not have to be afraid of Judgment–then there is nothing else to fear. His Love will always take care of us–He may not take away the problem that is trying to scare the living daylights out of us–but He will stand with us! And when God stands with us–it’s like this song: Fear Is A Liar!

The Eyes Have It

Good morning! It was William Shakespeare who wrote “The eyes are the windows to the soul.” Maybe so if one is looking from the outside in. But eyes are designed to look outward. . .provided they are functioning as they should–which leads me to this morning’s reflections.

Since the seventh grade, I wear glasses–if you haven’t done the math, that’s 53 years. Other than that, and cataract surgery a few years ago, they have served me well. . .until recently. For the past several years I’ve noticed these things called “floaters”. At first I thought I was swatting at a gnat. My previous optometrist informed me that it was just little bits of something in the vitreous fluid in my eyes, and were common with people of a certain age. Oh, God, how I hate that term!

Here’s the thing about those floaters, I don’t notice them until I do notice them–and then they keep hanging around–until I forget about them. They are still there, I just don’t notice them. Well, a couple of weeks ago I went to a new optometrist since my old one was a couple of hours away. After he dilated them, he spent a lot of time–I mean a LOT of time–looking into what Shakespeare called the windows to the soul. It was more time than I thought he needed.

He then showed me something abnormal about my eyes–in particular–in the back of my eyes–left and right. There was a bulging at the back. It wasn’t a detached retina–Praise God!–but, it was something that concerned him, and told me I needed to see a specialist to see if my eyes needed surgery to fix and prevent future problems. I could say I didn’t have a clue about this condition–but I remember a few months ago having this sharp pain behind my eyes–but passed it off as a sinus headache–something I have from time to time.

So, this morning at 8:15 CDT I will see the doctor for a further diagnosis. I want to say I’m not concerned–but we are talking about MY eyes and MY future vision. But then I remember the prolific hymn writer Fanny Crosby who wrote tons of hymns about the glory of God–though she was blind. So, I’m thinking to myself, “Self, what’s your issue? If Fanny could see God’s glory though she was “blind”, you need to keep your eyes on Jesus.”

And here’s my point for today. Whatever comes your way in life, keep your eyes, your spiritual eyes, on Jesus. The Bible has something to say about this. It comes in Hebrews chapter 12–right after that long list of people who experienced many difficulties but maintained their faith. Verses 1 and 2:

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.  We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. 

Hebrews 12:1-2 (NLT)

When life throws you a curve ball or a change-up, just keep your eyes on Jesus–like Fanny Crosby did. And everything will ultimately be good–God promises us this. I will SEE all of you tomorrow!

Slip And Fall

Have your feet ever slipped out from under you? Maybe ice was the culprit; or maybe it was snow; or perhaps water on the floor; or like me, maybe it was mud. I’ve slipped more times that Carter has little pills (maybe you have to be from the South to understand this analogy). About 2 months or so before the slip and fall I’m thinking about right now I had shoulder surgery to repair a torn rotator cuff and move a large bone spur. One particular Saturday my wife Debbie wasn’t around–and the leaves in the back yard were taunting me.

So I did what I had no business doing–I grabbed my leaf blower and went to work. I was blowing them into an old pond but the pile got so big, I need a rake to finish the job. I got the rake and went to work. I got to the edge of that old pond (there wasn’t much water in it) and carefully–I said CAREFULLY–began raking the leaves into that old pond. Then it happened! Between the leaves and the mud, my feet refused to stay underneath me and down I went.

I was younger back then, so in an instant, quick as a flash, I extended my arms including the left one which had the aforementioned surgery. I don’t know why we do that–I mean–extending the arms as if they would soften the landing. Get the picture? Both arms experienced Newton’s Third Law. Something popped in that left shoulder–and the pain could be described as. . .well, it can’t be described. And almost as quick as the extension of my arms, I looked around to see if anyone saw me. Why do we do that? No one saw me fall, and through the mega voltage of pain in my shoulder, I was thankful no one did.

There’s another kind of “slipping” that is far worse. It’s when we spiritually slip and fall. We do the same things as in a physical fall–we extend our arms hoping to soften the landing (it doesn’t help) and look to see if anyone saw us fall. In spite of our best intentions as a follower of Jesus, sometimes we slip and fall–and hope no one saw or heard us. But God both saw and heard. The last one we wanted to see us fall, saw it all.

So what can we do as followers and disciples of Jesus? We have a choice. We can do a Simon Peter. . .or we can do a Judas. Remember Peter denied Jesus and Judas betrayed Jesus–neither men were “less” sinful than the other. If we ever fall (we call that sin), the choice is ours. We can put ourselves back in the presence of Jesus–or we can completely avoid His Presence. Peter was restored, but Judas wasn’t–but he could have been.

I call your attention to a particular passage of Scripture to remember when you fall. I’ve used it numerous times and can testify that it works! It’s found in 1 John 1:9–“But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.” God sees us every time we fall. So, instead of looking around the next time you fall, look up. Own your mess. Tell God you were wrong–and that you want to change. And HE will be faithful to forgive you and help you back up again!

THE DANGEROUS ELMER FUDD

Yesterday I said I would be back with God helping me. Well, He did and here I am. Not all of my reflections are on God’s Kingdom, but they are influenced by His Kingdom. So today I must issue this Disclaimer: This isn’t a spiritual subject I’m addressing today. It is, though, a very human subject that penetrates to the core of our culture in the good old U.S. of A. And if other alleged “experts” can speak into this mess, then so can I; so here goes!

I’m 65 years old. As a kid, I watched Elmer with a gun. But I never shot anyone. I saw Bugs Bunny doing all kinds of violence against other Daffy Duck and others. Yet I never acted violently against anyone. I watch Yosemite Sam’s outbursts and shooting his side arm. But I never went ballistic, shooting up any place. I watched Wile E. Coyote try to catch the Roadrunner. And amazingly, I’ve never ordered dynamite, missiles, or traps from Acme.

Now, if I listen to the dribble being purported as the truth–by now I should be a raging man of extreme violence. According to the “experts”, my wall should be mounted with all kinds of trophies of the people I’ve killed. But the only things I have killed is some squirrels, a few rabbits (NOT Bugs), some game birds (NOT the Roadrunner or Tweety), a few coyotes (NOT Wile E.), and a healthy parcel of deer (NOT Bambi).

We are being told, on a frequent basis, that gun violence is to blame for all those tragic shooter situations. I cannot remember the exact number of guns, both handguns and long guns, that I have owned over the past 65 years. But I do know that not a single one of them ever committed an act of violence. It’s hard for me to believe that of the dozens of firearms I’ve had in my possession, all of them were defective. They must have been, and my current stock of firearms must also be defective, because not a single one of them has ever committed an act of violence. The deer might disagree with me–but the gun didn’t act on it’s own. I had a hand in it; actually my left eye and finger.

And this gets me to my point this morning. Why are people no longer being held responsible for their choices and decisions? Be it violence with a stick, a pipe, a fist, a bat, a knife, or even a firearm–what has happened to personal responsibility? They want to blame everything for this violence–except the person who commits it.

These “experts” want to blame it on cartoons. I refer you back to my second paragraph. And have you ever watch “modern” cartoons? My Dad had a conniption when Clark Gable said “damn” in “Gone with the Wind”. Today’s language is far worse. And the plots of these “kid’s” cartoons promote stupidity to infinity and back. (Sorry, Buzz Lightyear, no offense intended to you.)

And then these “experts” want to blame lifeless, inanimate objects for exerting undue and unnecessary influence on people. This is what the term “gun violence” declares, not implies. What is causing so much violence? Here are a few ideas, maybe some will think the novel or new, but they are tested and proven over the centuries.

  • There is this thing call consequences for choices and actions–and each person makes their own choices–so own those choices
  • Kids not being made to be kind, respectful and courteous
  • Kids being allowed to make decisions that they are neither mentally, emotionally, and intellectually equipped to make (such as what gender they are)
  • Being recognized for just being present; we call them participation trophies (see this previous blog of mine)
  • Giving kids everything but morals and values which put others first instead of themselves
  • Disrespecting the most vulnerable of the human race; it’s called abortion. I mean if they see that babies can be eliminated because they are unwanted or their gender (yes, gender selection is a reason for some abortions)–how can anyone respect the life of another person?
  • And above all these (and the many more I could add to this list), is that this world owes them absolutely nothing–but that they owe the world hard work, compassion, to dream of what builds people up rather than tear them down.

Our problem in this nation and world isn’t a gun problem but a human problem; it’s not gun violence but human violence. Now, you can disagree with me if you want–you have that freedom and are free to make that choice. But disagreeing with me doesn’t make we wrong. You can believe are you right–but you’re still wrong.

7 Things That God Finds Disgusting: A Person Who Sows Discord!

At last, we reach the end of the things that God finds disgusting–or if you prefer the King’s English–Abominations. Here are the links to the previous 6: Haughty Eyes; A Lying Tongue; Hands That Kill The Innocent; A Heart That Plots Evil; Feet That Race To Do Wrong; and yesterday’s A False Witness Who Pours Out Lies. And here is the seventh thing that is both disgusting and an abomination to God!

There are six things the Lord hates—no, seven things he detests: 
 a person who sows discord in a family.

Proverbs 6:16, 19 (New Living Translation)

We all have them. You know what I’m talking about. That one family member that we hope and pray and pray some more–that they will not show up at the next family gathering. It’s that relative that excels in creating that atmosphere of strife and contention in the family. The ensuing bickering leaves hurt feelings and hard heads that storm off. It’s not just at that gathering where the strife appears, but it continues long after the occasion that led to it. That’s the thing about Strife and Contention–once they happen they develop and life all their own and can be difficult to end.

Why does Solomon mention this about Discord in a family being so Disgusting to God? For a couple of reasons. One reason is that he lived in that strife and contention growing up. Remember his half-brother Absalom led a insurrection against their father, David? The other, and more important reason, is that family is God’s smallest battle formation against evil. And everyone knows that any family not united for God, cannot stand up against the attacks of Satan.

Let’s go deeper with the definition of family–being more than biologically or legally related. What about us as followers and disciples of Jesus? Didn’t He call us to be the Sons and Daughters of God? That sounds like Family to me, doesn’t it to you? And to Sow Discord (remember that means Strife and Contention) in the Family of God, within the Body Of Christ? To God that is an Abomination and absolutely Disgusting! It brings to mind a Yiddish word: Feh!

7 Things God Finds Disgusting: A False Witness Who Pours Out Lies

16) There are six things the Lord hates—no, seven things he detests:
19) a false witness who pours out lies

Proverbs 6:6, 19 (New Living Translations

And it seems like I’ve come back at a time when–well a time when I am the most guilty one. I promised I was back–and not leave again. Well, it seems I did–and Solomon’s words hit me square between the eyes. Excuse me, I need to wipe the blood off my face and get a couple of stitches.

OK, I’m back from God’s Mercy Emergency Room. This started out as the things that God finds disgusting; and I might as well finish it before I start off on another tangent of my (in)famous random thoughts. And the next detestable thing God hates is what I did–rather what I didn’t do. The sting I feel from this disgusting thing comes from the word Solomon used for lies. It is kāzāḇ and here is the meaning: “untruth, falsehood, deceptive thing”.

Let’s do a high school biology dissection of this word–and on yours truly broken promise of using this gift and passion of writing that God has given me:

  1. Untruth: My intentions were to keep on writing. But the reality is I stopped. So my actions reveals that statement to be UNtrue. Intentions do not reveal the truth. It takes actions! Strike one against me!
  2. Falsehood: The Hebrew word for falsehood is šeqer and on of its meanings is: “in vain”. My promise to write was in vain, and there can be no justification for my lack of character to keep that promise. Strike two against me!
  3. Deceptive Thing: It was this part of the word that really got to me. For the few of you who enjoy my writing, I deceived you. Deception is–well deceptive–it describes trickery and betrayal. And for this, I humbly and contritely ask for your forgiveness. Strike three! I’m out!

Some people intend to tell lies; but not all of us intend to tell lies. Yet, it is what we end up doing. Intentions doesn’t soften the hard blow of reality–if we are truly seeking to be a Disciple and Follower of Jesus. If anything, it makes the blow of Truth, the very value we ignored, hurt even more. We can thank this to the Holy Spirit. He does excellent work in this area–speaking from my experiences.

So, what can I do, since I have done this detestable thing to God? I have two options:

  1. I can believe Satan (who is full of lies) that I’m so messed up that I might as well give up.
  2. Or I can believe God, who says “Come now, let’s settle this,” says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scarlet, I will make them as white as snow. Though they are red like crimson, I will make them as white as wool. If you will only obey me.” (Isaiah 1:18-19)

I think I will believe God. Take it from the one who knows how it feels when we become deceptive–Keep those commitments and promises; whether you make them to another person or to God, Himself.

I’ll see y’all tomorrow–and THAT’S the Truth! God helping me.