Sunday, August 14, 2016

Too Soon Gone

Merle Haggard passed away in April, and many mourn the passing of this famous country singer. Over the last number of years I've witnessed the passing of many famous people, quite a few that I grew up listening to, or watching on television. Through out my days, and under various reasons and circumstances, I am reminded of the scripture in Psalms: 

"I have been young, and now am old; Yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, Nor his seed begging bread." (Psalms 37:25 ASV)

My thoughts tend to center on the phrase 'I have been young, and now am old'. Life has made that impression on me at sundry stages in my journey which had nothing to do with literal age. My husband and I married when we were eighteen. Marriage tends to mature a person, or as they say, we grew up together. There was ten years between our oldest child and the sixth child. Child number seven was born ten years later, approximately two weeks after our oldest grandchild joined the family. 

The first forty years of our life seemed to fly by. About the age forty-two, however, I felt as if I slammed into a brick wall. Life didn't slow down, but before that time I hit life at full throttle. Now my body began to hit slow motion mode in little things.  

"The wise man's eyes are in his head, and the fool walketh in darkness: and yet I perceived that one event happeneth to them all. Then said I in my heart, As it happeneth to the fool, so will it happen even to me; and why was I then more wise? Then said I in my heart, that this also is vanity." (Ecclesiastes 2:14-15 ASV)

The term, 'he went the way of all the earth', is used to gently remind people that 'as it happeneth to the fool, so will it happen to me...'. Too many people live their lives as if they are guaranteed life forever on this earth. They live as if life on this tiny spec in the universe is forever, and never make preparation for the vast ocean of eternity. 

"For of the wise man, even as of the fool, there is no remembrance for ever; seeing that in the days to come all will have been long forgotten. And how doth the wise man die even as the fool!"(Ecclesiastes 2:16 ASV)

 The book of Ecclesiastes deals with Solomon trying to make sense of life 'under the sun'; trying to make sense of life by taking God out of the equation. Earthly wisdom would cause a thinking person to ask the age old question, 'what's it all about?' What is the purpose of life? and as Solomon found, apart from a life with God there is no sense. We all die and are forgotten—even the famous of our times. 

"Therefore I turned about to cause my heart to despair concerning all the labor wherein I had labored under the sun." (Ecclesiastes 2:20 ASV)

"There is nothing better for a man than that he should eat and drink, and make his soul enjoy good in his labor. This also I saw, that it is from the hand of God." (Ecclesiastes 2:24 ASV)

I sit on my deck and watch my children and grandchildren. I am reminded that even though the last twenty-one years have forced me to slow down, as Ecclesiastes tells us there is nothing better than to gather with family and friends. To watch  life begin, the middle of life, and in the words of the Psalmist: "I have been young, and now am old", as a Christian, there is nothing better. 

But as a Christian, I have prepared for the next stage as well. Life on this spec isn't the end. I am incredulous that so many of my fellow journeymen are so clueless. I will leave you with this encouragement—prepare for your eternity:

"And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat upon it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne; and books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of the things which were written in the books, according to their works. ...and they were judged every man according to their works. And death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death, even the lake of fire. And if any was not found written in the book of life, he was cast into the lake of fire." 
(Revelation 20:11-15 ASV)


Monday, July 18, 2016

A World of Turmoil

"And when the morning arose, then the angels hastened Lot, saying, Arise, take thy wife, and thy two daughters that are here, lest thou be consumed in the iniquity of the city. But he lingered; and the men laid hold upon his hand, and upon the hand of his wife, and upon the hand of his two daughters, Jehovah being merciful unto him; and they brought him forth, and set him without the city." (Genesis 19:15-16 ASV)

Abraham in the preceeding chapter had bargained with Jehovah God. Jehovah had 'heard' the great cry of the city of Sodom and Gomorrah for its wickedness, and in response sent two angels down to check it out. The story here picks up as the angels have found it to be very wicked indeed. They have not been able to find even ten righteous souls in the entire city. The city is set for destruction, but first the angels must deliver Lot and his family out of the city. Destruction is hovering over the city, Lot is 'lolly gagging-dragging his feet' about leaving. At last the angels take him, his wife, his two daughters by their hands and bring them out of the city. They literally drag them out of the city, tell them to run for the hills, and 'do not look back'. 

"And it came to pass, when they had brought them forth (the angels brought forth Lot and family) abroad, that he (the angel) said, Escape for thy life; look not behind thee, neither stay thou in all the Plain; escape to the mountain, lest thou be consumed." (Genesis 19:17 ASV)

There could have been several reasons Lot's wife looked back. For whatever reason, she looked back with longing when she had been distinctly warned 'do not look back', and she failed the test. 

"But his wife looked back from behind him, and she became a pillar of salt."(Genesis 19:26 ASV)

Strangers and Pilgrims: we live in, yet are not part of this world.
Or have we grown comfortable here?

Far too many of my fellow Christian travelers have Lot syndrome, and many more have the 'Lot's wife' syndrome. How many times do I hear people telling stories about 'before' I was a christian I did thus and so. It's a remembrance of 'the good times' they had 'before'. The good times they gave up in order to suffer the walk of a christian. Instead of realizing what a blessing it is to give those things up and put them away; to walk in soberness and Godliness, they remember them with fondness. Like Lot's wife, they look back with longing.

"that ye no longer should live the rest of your time in flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God. For the time past may suffice to have wrought the desire of the Gentiles, and to have walked in lasciviousness, lusts, winebibbings, revellings, carousings, and abominable idolatries: wherein they think strange that ye run not with them into the same excess of riot, speaking evil of you:" 
(1 Peter 4:2-4 ASV)

For my part, I want to finish my task here in this world, and to finish well. However, there are days when I feel I've seen too much. My heart loves my family and friends, but it loves even greater, and longs even more to return to that city and home of eternal rest and joy.  

"These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For they that say such things make it manifest that they are seeking after a country of their own. And if indeed they had been mindful of that country from which they went out, they would have had opportunity to return. But now they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed of them, to be called their God; for he hath prepared for them a city." (Hebrews 11:13-16 ASV)

"Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth. Jehovah of hosts is with us; The God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah." (Psalms 46:10-11 ASV)

Hallelujah! What a Savior!

Monday, July 11, 2016

Just A Moment

Some call them 'senior' moments, or  back when blond jokes were popular, 'blond moments'. Regardless, most people have those moments and neither age nor hair color matter. I have been born with a predisposition for moments. Most of these moments go with the words 'what was I thinking'? I often find myself sitting on the ground, or floor, or find myself in a situation which is not good.

But these aren't the only moments in life. Statistics tell us a car crash takes only seconds to occur. Odd as it seems, children grow up in only a moment. Parents grow old in only a moment. A new acquaintance can become a friend in a moment, and friends can become strangers—in only a moment. Overnight our bodies and minds change. 

In this world of change, a world of drifting shifting sand-based values where can we find a sense of stability?  

"Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and to-day, yea and for ever. Be not carried away by divers and strange teachings: for it is good that the heart be established by grace; not by meats, wherein they that occupied themselves were not profited."  (Hebrews 13:8-9 ASV)

So many people have turned away from the Bible in search of something different. Not even something 'new', just different. Jesus is the only one that promises salvation. Other religions may offer something novel, or unusual. They may make the person 'feel' tingley or special, however, they don't offer salvation.

Salvation. The teachings of Christ can be the best of both worlds, giving us a better life now, and an eternal home with God. As an acquaintance of mine said after she and her husband had been converted to Christ from a drunken existence. The previous life revolved around drinking, and all their money went for that. She sat in her comfortable carpeted living room with new furniture. Her walls were adorned with pretty items. Christ has changed our previous existence for this. Her face wore an honest thankful visage. 

"If we have only hoped in Christ in this life, we are of all men most pitiable. But now hath Christ been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of them that are asleep. For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead." (1 Corinthians 15:19-21 ASV)

It is true that the fortunes of Christians can be erased in a moment's notice, but one thing a Christian has that they take with them is the presence of Christ. His assurance that He is with them no matter what, or no mater where they are.

"Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time; casting all your anxiety upon him, because he careth for you."  (1 Peter 5:6-7 ASV)

In this world of change that come sometimes moment by moment, Jesus still calls each individual back to him. He gives us an anchor for our soul, and a foundation to build our life upon. A future here, and a future for the hereafter:

"In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed."  (1 Corinthians 15:52 ASV)

Hallelujah! What a Savior!

Friday, July 1, 2016

Going Out In Joy

Most mornings I'm up at 6:00 A. M. but this morning I'm up later than my normal early hour. I've had a good/bad night. I slept well until early morning, then pain woke me and I had to get up for some pain relief.

Later, sitting at our dining room table, as I work at my morning routine I glance out the window. There is a nice breeze, and this morning is almost perfect. It's a comfortable cool, but vibrant sunshine washes the landscape. Near to my view lower leaves of the Ash tree on the east side of our house are dancing in the shadow, in the breeze.

Several years ago I was lent a book, "The Chinese Ginger Jars" by Myra Scovel. {The true, captivating, and intensely personal account of an extraordinary American woman who lived, with her medical missionary husband and son, through more than two decades of transition in China. ...}

This blurb says her husband and son, but in the book I believe she had three children--two boys and one girl. That said, there was a point during WWII, if memory serves me, they were in an internment camp in China for quite some time. After being held in the camp for a length of time the camp was exchanged. They start the long train journey to the ship that will bring them back to America. At one point they are allowed off the train to rest in the shade of some trees. Myra has a poignant moment as they are resting and scripture comes to her mind:

 "For ye shall go out with joy, and be led forth with peace: the mountains and the hills shall break forth before you into singing; and all the trees of the fields shall clap their hands."
Isaiah 55:12

Just as she observes the trees under which they are resting seem to 'clap their leaves as they go out with joy', in my world on this almost perfect morning the leaves on our Ash tree are clapping their leaves. What a beautiful thought, and brings to mind other scriptures. As in my case: 

"Sing praise unto Jehovah, O ye saints of his, And give thanks to his holy memorial name. For his anger is but for a moment; His favor is for a life-time: Weeping may tarry for the night, But joy cometh in the morning." 
(Psalms 30:4-5 ASV)

Also when I think I am something special (as my daughter used to say—all that and a bag of chips—) I remember that we are all on the journey perhaps as Myra and her companions to the ship that takes us home. It isn't the times we fall that count, it is the times we get up. And just because I'm up today, doesn't mean I didn't fall yesterday, nor that I won't fall sometime in the future. As the Apostle Paul says:

"Concerning this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And he hath said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my power is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Wherefore I take pleasure in weaknesses, in injuries, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong." 
(2 Corinthians 12:8-10 ASV)

I don't 'rest' in my weakness (as in wallow in the mud), but I rest in the 'Power of Christ' to overcome and live in His power and grace.

And last of all, I meditate upon this scripture:

"Seek ye Jehovah while he may be found; call ye upon him while he is near: let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; and let him return unto Jehovah, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith Jehovah. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts." 
(Isaiah 55:6-9 ASV)

Hallelujah, what a Savior!

Saturday, June 18, 2016

slowly

It started slow, like sand dripping one grain at a time through an ancient hourglass. Oh, we started out normal enough, but change came. Imperceptible, yet one day, one week, one year, bit by tiny bit. Now, like a rock mountain, who we are is set in stone, and unchanging.

The original Cinderella of long ago, not the Disney world new one, had a moral in her story. In the original story, Cinderella personified what a good kind person; a well brought up lady would look like. She embodied beauty on the outside and on the inside. A forgiving person who, through her goodness, brought evil to repentance and changed it to good.

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honorable, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. The things which ye both learned and received and heard and saw in me, these things do: and the God of peace shall be with you. 
(Philippians 4:8-9 ASV)

Life isn't built in a day. It is built day by day, one precept on another. Many people of the world live their lives listening to lies from Satan (who is the father of lies, as Jesus says). They eat the empty vanity cakes of the idols of this world, and never turn to the beauty of truth and salvation. They don't have anything worthwhile to look to that will help them turn to the good, true, honorable things of life eternal.

Just as the new Disney world version of Cinderella has put a different emphasis on the story, most lives miss the mark as well. We go along believing, 'if I only had more money,' or 'if I looked like that person', drove that car,' or what ever our current idol is, if I had that, things would be different. We miss the real beauty, because we're looking at the facade. 

Thus saith Jehovah, Stand ye in the ways and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way; and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls: but they said, We will not walk therein. And I set watchmen over you, saying, Hearken to the sound of the trumpet; but they said, We will not hearken. 

(Jeremiah 6:16-17 ASV)

Hallelujah! What a Savior!



Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Take care—

I look at my front yard from my deck, what do I see? Some days what I see is up to me. 
Literally I see grass that is crying out to be cut, or used for a small pasture. Flowers--I love flowers, and there are flower leaves waving at whoever will rescue them. Roses that need pruned and...
Well, there you go. Always some opportunity.

Opportunity?
Well, yes opportunity.
"To one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. He who had received the five talents went at once and traded with them, and he made five talents more. So also he who had the two talents made two talents more. But he who had received the one talent went and dug in the ground and hid his master's money. Now after a long time the master of those servants came and settled accounts with them. And he who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five talents more, saying, 'Master, you delivered to me five talents; here I have made five talents more.' His master said to him, 'Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.' And he also who had the two talents came forward, saying, 'Master, you delivered to me two talents; here I have made two talents more.' His master said to him, 'Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master." 
(Matthew 25:15-23 ESV)

If you notice the scripture above, the lesson is of a person with a fortune that 'gives' his servants money (that's what talents are here) and leaves on a journey. Each servant does something with the money he received. Two are wise, and one is foolish. 


A number of people have taken offense to Donald Trump. They say he 'was a rich kid, and what he has he inherited'. Hhas said repeatedly, no, my dad gave me a 'million dollars' to make my fortune. I did not inherit what I have today. 


Something people don't understand is a millionaire, even Donald Trump, can go broke. If you are doing 'deals' in real estate and what not, you can lose it all. A million dollars can evaporate fast if you don't make the right choices, or if you make the wrong choices too many times. 


What Mr. Trump has and/or how he made his fortune is not what I'm concerned with here. Look around you at your fortune. That's what I'm talking about. 


We are the servants. Our treasure is our lives. If we don't take care of what we've been given, God won't give us more. As Dave Ramsey has said, more money doesn't make you rich, it just makes you more of what you already are.

What Dave Ramsey says is people that have to have the latest gadget hardly ever become 'rich'. No matter how much money that comes into their possession, it has soon flown out the window on something newer, and in their eyes at least, better.They aren't wise with their resources.They may 'have' more money, but to no avail.   


"He also who had received the one talent came forward, saying, 'Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you scattered no seed, so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.' But his master answered him, 'You wicked and slothful servant! You knew that I reap where I have not sown and gather where I scattered no seed?" (Matthew 25:24-26 ESV)

What he's saying is, if person is a lousy person putting more money in their pocket, or fancier clothes on their outside is like putting lipstick on a pig. 

And what God tells us is take care of your internal character.

Build sturdy relationships 
  • With God first
  • Family (spouse, children, parents/siblings, friends, neighbors)
  •  Take care of your home, car, possessions--it shows a personal, internal honor, a sense of self-worth
In one sense we are all born a millionaire. We are born with a vast treasure given to us by a loving God. Let's not hide our treasure in the ground, but let us take care, and be busy looking for opportunities to be about our Father's business. 

Hallelujah! What a Savior. 


Sunday, April 17, 2016

Beggars in the Kingdom

I get it. Most Christians do as well. At least those that have been Christians for awhile. I see quite a few posts on different subjects as to Christian living. Some are on general topics such as can a Christian do such and so activities. For example, can a Christian smoke tobacco, drink 'adult beverages', curse, fight, attend x-rated movies, participate in—well there is quite a general list for male and female Christians. 

There are some do's and don'ts for men (that don't apply to women, ie. "Ye husbands, in like manner, dwell with your wives according to knowledge, giving honor unto the woman, as unto the weaker vessel, as being also joint-heirs of the grace of life; to the end that your prayers be not hindered." 
(1 Peter 3:7 ASV)). There are do's and don'ts for women (that don't apply to men). Herein lies the problem. 

"And ye shall hear of wars and rumors of wars; see that ye be not troubled: for these things must needs come to pass; but the end is not yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; and there shall be famines and earthquakes in divers places. But all these things are the beginning of travail. Then shall they deliver you up unto tribulation, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all the nations for my name's sake. And then shall many stumble, and shall deliver up one another, and shall hate one another. And many false prophets shall arise, and shall lead many astray. And because iniquity shall be multiplied, the love of the many shall wax cold.
(Matthew 24:6-12 ASV)

Many talk and write of 'end times', and these things have happened for centuries, the famines, wars, earthquakes in many places, so that, to point to these things as occurring in these days doesn't mark end times, but the last phrase is chilling  And because iniquity shall be multiplied, the love of the many shall wax cold.

For the past—at least forty-five years—many that call themselves Christians have been infiltrated by those who know the will of Christ, but who really don't care. Those who can read the will of God in scriptures and will still deny and rebel against that will. 

"Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit to them: for they watch in behalf of your souls, as they that shall give account; that they may do this with joy, and not with grief: for this were unprofitable for you." 

(Hebrews 13:17 ASV)

If people don't like what the elders of the congregation tell them, all they need to do is find a congregation that will allow them to do what they choose to do. Who cares about the Word of God, or the Elders. We have too many folks who just don't care. The mission has been side-tricked, side-swiped, or sabotaged.    

When Jesus became relegated to a lilly-livered, wuss, most laugh and scorn, but they seem to have forgotten what John the Baptizer said of Jesus Christ: 

I indeed baptize you in water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you in the Holy Spirit and in fire: whose fan is in his hand, and he will thoroughly cleanse his threshing-floor; and he will gather his wheat into the garner, but the chaff he will burn up with unquenchable fire. 
(Matthew 3:11-12 ASV)

These people need to mark well that the unquenchable fire is not something they will want. This post originally came from the scripture in Luke that tells the lesson of the King and His feast. It had to do with the fact that Christ went first to His fellow Jews, but most of them rejected the new Kingdom, so He turned to a people not His own:

"and I will have mercy upon her that had not obtained mercy; and I will say to them that were not my people, Thou art my people; and they shall say, Thou art my God." 
(Hosea 2:23 ASV)

In this aspect the Church or Kingdom of today is a Kingdom of beggars from the highways and byways. It is the poor, maimed, and blind and lame, but also it is the people who bow before the great I AM, and confess "I was blind, but now I see":

"And the servant came, and told his lord these things. Then the master of the house being angry said to his servant, Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in hither the poor and maimed and blind and lame. And the servant said, Lord, what thou didst command is done, and yet there is room. And the lord said unto the servant, Go out into the highways and hedges, and constrain them to come in, that my house may be filled. For I say unto you, that none of those men that were bidden shall taste of my supper." 
(Luke 14:21-24 ASV)
Hallelujah! What a savior!