Saturday, December 15, 2018

We Don't Always Know

Life is a journey. Day by day, step by step, we make many choices along the way. Our aim should be to live each day without regrets. To live and do the right thing. 

But life happens along the way, and there are some choices that lead places we never foresee.  

Psalms 5:8  "Lead me, O Jehovah, in thy righteousness because of mine enemies; Make thy way straight before my face."

I'm not just squeamish about heights, I flat don't do them. So, I'm in Jamaica, and the first few days some of us are tying rebar columns for the building we're working on. Then I get the news that we will next be working on the roof of said building. 

I'm thinking to myself, what a revolting development this is. I've done mission work in other countries, but I've never been asked to work on a roof—like climb a ladder and etc. 

Yes, it is a flat roof, but it has edges, and then it has a drop. Since, however, I didn't travel all this way to sit and watch, I took it real slow, going up a few rungs at a time. Getting used to that and finally, I got to the top step. Some kind soul helped me make the transition onto the roof. 

And we were in business. We were still tying rebar, but it went on the roof. There are several things about building in places that must be hurricane and earthquake proof. Or as close as possible to it. There is a lot of rebar and concrete in one of those structures.

I'm sure I've said this before, but we spent two weeks working there, and one of our co-laborers was a new Christian, by the name of Jerry, with a last name I wouldn't try to spell, who came from somewhere around the east coast. 

 Just as Jesus' apostles were a conglomeration of unlikely souls, these mission situations pull together a number of improbable cohorts. When you look at a person, you make judgements, and that isn't bad, it just isn't very often accurate. 

Yes, you can come up with a close appraisal of different aspects of a person, but there are gaps. This new Christian currently was employed as a salesman of some sort. He wasn't a big bulky guy. On the contrary, he was slight of build, under six foot tall, and somewhat wiry. What you couldn't see was his character and... 

"If you'd told me when I was eighteen that I'd ever be working on a roof, in a foreign country, I'd a told you, you were as crazy as a loon," I tell Jerry as he and I are spacing and tying rebar on the roof, preparing for the concrete to be poured the next morning.

He laughs and tells me, "If you'd asked me what I'd be doing at this stage of my life, I would have said I'd be working in some dive on an island somewhere in the Pacific." 

Unlikely people in an unlikely spot. Life's journey isn't always the smooth path we think it will be. As my mother used to say, 'Figure long and figure wrong.' We can plan and plan, but God still rules the nations. 

 Psalms 27:11  "Teach me thy way, O Jehovah; And lead me in a plain path, Because of mine enemies. 12)  Deliver me not over unto the will of mine adversaries: For false witnesses are risen up against me, And such as breathe out cruelty. 13)  I had fainted, unless I had believed to see the goodness of Jehovah In the land of the living. 14)  Wait for Jehovah: Be strong, And let thy heart take courage; Yea, wait thou for Jehovah. 

Psalms 43:3  "Oh send out thy light and thy truth; let them lead me: Let them bring me unto thy holy hill, And to thy tabernacles." 

Hallelujah! What a Savior!

Monday, November 26, 2018

Changed Forever

"You got to know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em,
Know when to walk away and know when to run.
You never count your money when you're sittin' at the table.
There'll be time enough for countin' when the dealin's done."

"Now Ev'ry gambler knows that the secret to survivin'
Is knowin' what to throw away and knowing what to keep.
'Cause ev'ry hand's a winner and ev'ry hand's a loser,
And the best that you can hope for is to die in your sleep. "
The Gambler, Songwriter, Don Schlitz

That's some advice. 'Know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em.' Life is like a gamble, and often we are like the gambler, or we feel like the gambler.

The gambler in the song had learned more than he wanted to in life. There is some wisdom in the rest of the chorus: never count your money sittin' at the table—don't get arrogant or foolish. There are some things you need to keep to yourself. People aren't all that honest in the 'gambling' scene. If they can take what you have, you may well be running for your life.

To people like myself, who aren't particularly good poker players, we don't understand how it is possible to win with a losing hand. However, someone who is experienced, someone whose livelihood is and depends on being a winner more often than being a loser does know how.

I admire George Washington Carver and Madam CJ Walker. These two were born at a time when the cards were stacked against them. Yet they did well, often relying on the leading of the Lord. They persevered and through diligence and hard work made a success of their lives.

Luck of the draw? That's what it is sometimes referred to as— sometimes it is. Most often it has to do with a mix of being at the right place at the right time and applying a bit of elbow grease and gumption. As anonymous said, "The reason most people do not recognize an opportunity when they meet it is because it usually goes around wearing overalls and looking like Hard Work."

Lives can be agreeable or disagreeable, but as the saying goes, life circumstances are temporary. Enjoy the good times when they are pleasant, be thankful for them. Endure and learn from the problems and tangles, but take heart because they are temporary.

Character— good character is forged in the trials of life, and are made by the constant exercise of making right decisions. Life is made up of costly decisions. Some people will choose to win, some will choose to lose. It depends on us and how we play our hands.  

Ecclesiastes 8:6  "Because to every purpose there is time and judgment, therefore the misery of man is great upon him. 7)  For he knoweth not that which shall be: for who can tell him when it shall be?
8)  There is no man that hath power over the spirit to retain the spirit; neither hath he power in the day of death: and there is no discharge in that war; neither shall wickedness deliver those that are given to it."

Ecclesiastes 7:1  "A good name is better than precious ointment; and the day of death than the day of one's birth."

Hallelujah! What a Savior!

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Oh, That Men Would Praise Him

Perhaps you knew that you are responsible toward God to believe the truth? You are also called to not believe a lie. In other words, if you believe a lie you will be held responsible for that.

1Kings 13:1 "And, behold, there came a man of God out of Judah by the word of Jehovah unto Beth-el: and Jeroboam was standing by the altar to burn incense. 2)  And he cried against the altar by the word of Jehovah, and said, O altar, altar, thus saith Jehovah: Behold, a son shall be born unto the house of David, Josiah by name; and upon thee shall he sacrifice the priests of the high places that burn incense upon thee, and men's bones shall they burn upon thee." 

Here we have the account of a young prophet of God sent by Jehovah to the new King Jeroboam, king of half of Israel. He decided to make idols and places of worship in his half of the kingdom, and God was not happy. So, he sent a prophet. Jeroboam didn't like what the prophet had to say and put forth his hand to capture him. His arm was struck by judgment from God and Jeroboam changed his mind, inviting the young prophet (who had healed Jeroboam's arm) home for refreshments. 

1Kings 13:8  "And the man of God said unto the king, If thou wilt give me half thy house, I will not go in with thee, neither will I eat bread nor drink water in this place; 9)  for so was it charged me by the word of Jehovah, saying, Thou shalt eat no bread, nor drink water, neither return by the way that thou camest."

Here we have a young prophet who preached against what King Jeroboam had done and the golden calves he had made. The King wants him to come home with him, but the young prophet says, no, Jehovah has said do not stay here or eat bread or whatnot and he leaves to go home.

But here's where the plot thickens. 1Kings 13:11 tells us: "Now there dwelt an old prophet in Beth-el; and one of his sons came and told him all the works that the man of God had done that day in Beth-el...1Ki 13:13  And he said unto his sons, Saddle me the ass. So they saddled him the ass; and he rode thereon. 14)  And he went after the man of God, and found him "

So the old prophet heard about the young prophet, he follows him, and he finds him. The old prophet invites the young prophet to come home with him for a meal. The young prophet repeats that no, he can't come home, he has to leave because that's what Jehovah had instructed him to do. But the old prophet has news for the young prophet.

1Kings 13:18  "And he said unto him, I also am a prophet as thou art; and an angel spake unto me by the word of Jehovah, saying, Bring him back with thee into thy house, that he may eat bread and drink water. But he lied unto him."

The young prophet believes him, goes home and eats with him, then the old prophet tells him... As they are sitting at meat the old prophet has more news for the young man:

1Kings 13:21  "and he cried unto the man of God that came from Judah, saying, Thus saith Jehovah, Forasmuch as thou hast been disobedient unto the mouth of Jehovah, and hast not kept the commandment which Jehovah thy God commanded thee, 22)  but camest back, and hast eaten bread and drunk water in the place of which he said to thee, Eat no bread, and drink no water; thy body shall not come unto the sepulchre of thy fathers." 

And as the young prophet leaves to go back to Judah a lion comes upon him and the young prophet is killed. The old prophet hears about it and brings his body back and buries him in his own sepulchre. 

2Kings 23:16  "And as Josiah turned himself, he spied the sepulchres that were there in the mount; and he sent, and took the bones out of the sepulchres, and burned them upon the altar, and defiled it, according to the word of Jehovah which the man of God proclaimed, who proclaimed these things. 17)  Then he said, What monument is that which I see? And the men of the city told him, It is the sepulchre of the man of God, who came from Judah, and proclaimed these things that thou hast done against the altar of Beth-el. 

Many years later when King Josiah (the king of the prophecy) is ruling in Jerusalem and is purging the land of the idols this prophecy of the young prophet is fulfilled. I don't know why the old prophet lied to him. Maybe because since the young prophet had a monument and his bones were left alone, the old prophet figured his would be left alone as well:  

2Kings 23:18  "And he said, Let him be; let no man move his bones. So they let his bones alone, with the bones of the prophet that came out of Samaria." 

Psa 107:9  For he satisfieth the longing soul, And the hungry soul he filleth with good. 10)  Such as sat in darkness and in the shadow of death, Being bound in affliction and iron, 
11)  Because they rebelled against the words of God, And contemned the counsel of the Most High: 
12)  Therefore he brought down their heart with labor; They fell down, and there was none to help. 

13)  Then they cried unto Jehovah in their trouble, And he saved them out of their distresses. 
14)  He brought them out of darkness and the shadow of death, And brake their bonds in sunder. 

15)  Oh, that men would praise Jehovah for his lovingkindness, And for his wonderful works to the children of men! 16)  For he hath broken the gates of brass, And cut the bars of iron in sunder.
17)  Fools because of their transgression, And because of their iniquities, are afflicted.

Hallelujah! What a Savior!

Friday, September 14, 2018

God is Not Dead

There was a headline or a poster quite a few years ago that affirmed that God was dead. I don't know if the author of that particular headline ever came to realize their mistake, or if he/she carried it into eternity.

Acts 14:15  "and saying, Sirs, why do ye these things? We also are men of like passions with you, and bring you good tidings, that ye should turn from these vain things unto a living God, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea, and all that in them is: 16)  who in the generations gone by suffered all the nations to walk in their own ways. 17)  And yet He left not himself without witness, in that he did good and gave you from heaven rains and fruitful seasons, filling your hearts with food and gladness."

In reading a short excerpt from a Memoir by Clarence Thomas, Judge Thomas related how his father and grandfather believed you should live the life you are dealt. Not that a person can't better their life but at that time there were forces out there promoting violence as a way to overcome race problems. Don't go to college, don't get an education, and do not go quietly... This was in conflict with what Clarence was told at home, and I for one am so glad that he listened to the voices of reason.

I have not read his book, but it is on my list.  The statement 'live the life you're dealt' brings up some thoughts. I don't know the story of the original author of the 'God is Dead' motif. I don't know who, what, or why this person felt this way. It seems that it was at the time of the 'hippie' revolution when unknowing young people felt the need to assert their independence. These people would make shocking statements just to shock people.

I have seen people who appear to have a rough hand dealt to them. Like the father who named his first son 'Winner' and his second son 'Loser', just to find out if a name predicted a person's outcome. In that instance, it did not. 'Win' went on to never succeed, and 'Lou' (as Loser was dubbed) did well in his life, retiring from the position of being an honored police sheriff.

Being angry with God for the life we are dealt is futile. God is not dead, we can look around and see that regardless of our circumstances what God has given each of us. As it says in verse seventeen above; 17) "And yet He left not himself without witness, in that he did good and gave you from heaven rains and fruitful seasons, filling your hearts with food and gladness."

In thinking over the pictures I've seen of the 1960s and the young people of that era, they seem like kids on a rebellion streak. They didn't want restraint of any kind. I'm sure there were older Christians who were sure these kids were prophesied of in Timothy:

2Timothy 3:1  "But know this, that in the last days grievous times shall come. 2)  For men shall be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, haughty, railers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, 3)  without natural affection, implacable, slanderers, without self-control, fierce, no lovers of good..."

The '60s leached over into the '70s and '80s—like infinity and beyond. Our younger generations have not been reclaimed. The revolution continues, fanned by the 'authority' figures such as college professors that arose from that time frame and subsequent eras. Those in the religious communities have been losing their young people to the world as they graduate from high school. But here we are wondering what has happened and how we lost this generation. 

I think we lost them because we lost ourselves first. I was not raised as a Christian, so that was against me. My husband was raised as a Methodist, but he wasn't serious about it. We both came of age during the late 60s early 70s, and rebellion was everywhere. It might have been in the water, but definitely was in the air. I don't know if there was any remedy for it. Public school has trained kids to seek the approval of their peers. No one wants to be a stand out from the crowd. We are conditioned to fit in. 

I would tell parents today stop attempting to fit in. Pull back from the crowd and teach your children to get used to being unique. Especially if Christian parents want their children to remain Christian. As one of my children said the other day, I want my kids to be smart enough they don't want/choose to go to college.

James 1:5 "But if any of you lacketh wisdom, let him ask of God, who giveth to all liberally and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. 6) But let him ask in faith, nothing doubting: for he that doubteth is like the surge of the sea driven by the wind and tossed."

Hallelujah! What a Savior!

Thursday, September 6, 2018

There is no Peace

One summer I was planning on studying Latin. All the further I got was Pax Vobiscum and one or two other phrases which I've managed to forget. 

Pax Vobiscum- peace be with you. In these days it is as if peace has evaporated. I would like to think that most of us would choose to live peaceful lives, yet for some reason, it is as the song says, 'No tranquil joys on earth I know, No peaceful, sheltering dome; This world's a wilderness of woe, this world is not my home'.  |

Jeremiah 8:11 "And they have healed the hurt of the daughter of my people slightly, saying, Peace, peace; when there is no peace."

 America was founded on the idea of liberty and justice in law. However, as in any society, it is a burden upon its citizens to be self-regulating. Under the ten laws of the Old Testament, the first four laws dealt with man's duty toward God, and the second six laws dealt with neighbor to neighbor laws. Or in other words how God expects his citizens to behave toward his laws, and how he expects his citizens to deal with each other. 

Mark 12:29  "Jesus answered, The first is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God, the Lord is one: 30)  and thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength. 31)  The second is this, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these." 

Jesus calls to remembrance Deuteronomy 6:4 &5 out of the Old Law, which the Jews would be familiar with, and this is a summary as our Lord says 'there is none other commandment greater than these', or on these two commandments hangeth the whole law. 

Love God and love your neighbor. That's it in a nutshell. Not so difficult is it? Yet as Trey Gowdy said in a speech at Second Baptist Woodway, Christianity is hard. And he quoted G.K. Chesterton's words, "Christianity has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and not tried ."

We are living in days of chaos and turmoil. Where do we go when our country's laws break down? In one of the campaign debates, then-candidate Trump was asked how do you address breakdowns in society such as Ferguson? and his response was, 'rule of law'. 

That is exactly what is needed in response to anti-fa, and white supremacists, and black supremacists, or all of these terrorist groups. If common people are constantly afraid of being attacked and aren't safe as they go about their business something needs to be done to protect them. 

Former Governor Mike Huckabee had a piece about taking his family to the Holocaust museum in Germany and how he was concerned about his young daughter, who was perhaps eleven at the time. There were some horrible gruesome images depicting the happenings of those days. He was afraid she would not understand. She stopped to sign the guest book as they were leaving and he stopped to read what she had written:

Why Didn't Someone Do Something?

A good question for all of us in this troubled time. 1Chronicles 12:32 "And of the children of Issachar, men that had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do..." 

Often this is the problem, not knowing what to do. We can become paralyzed because we don't know what to do. When we spend time in prayer, lots of time in prayer, we get unexpected answers. In these troublesome times, we need to all be prayer warriors. Stand up, oh men of God, and— Ephesians 6:18  "...with all prayer and supplication praying at all seasons in the Spirit, and watching thereunto in all perseverance and supplication for all the saints," 

Hallelujah! What a savior!

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Why Do We Care? Or Do We...

Proverbs 26:17 "He that passeth by, and vexeth himself with strife belonging not to him, Is like one that taketh a dog by the ears."

Today we might say it as, Not my monkey, not my circus. It's a humorous way of saying 'It's none of my business.'

Luke 10:29 ' But he, desiring to justify himself, said unto Jesus, And who is my neighbor? 30)  Jesus made answer and said, A certain man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho; and he fell among robbers, who both stripped him and beat him, and departed, leaving him half dead. 31)  And by chance a certain priest was going down that way: and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. 32)  And in like manner a Levite also, when he came to the place, and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33)  But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he was moved with compassion, 34)  and came to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring on them oil and wine; and he set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him. 35)  And on the morrow he took out two shillings, and gave them to the host, and said, Take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more, I, when I come back again, will repay thee. 36)  Which of these three, thinkest thou, proved neighbor unto him that fell among the robbers? 37)  And he said, He that showed mercy on him. And Jesus said unto him, Go, and do thou likewise."

This is where the phrase 'Good Samaritan' comes from. In Jesus' time, Samaritans were looked down upon. They had been some of the people from other nations that had been brought in to the land of Judah at the time of the Babylonian captivity. Nebuchadnezzer was the Babylonian king that conquered the land of Judah. His reign occurred from approximately 605-562 B.C. His practice was to take the captured people and spread them around throughout his kingdom, never leaving enough of a group of people together in one place to prevent an uprising against his rule. 

Thus strangers were brought in from different nations to occupy the land. These people intermingled with the remnant of Jews who had been left in the land, marrying their sons and daughters. This was strictly forbidden under the law of Moses, but such things never stopped the Jews. This created a spirit of animosity between the strict keepers of the law and the Samaritans. 

Suffice it to say that Jesus took an opportunity to teach that there is a time and a place to make something our business. The priest and the Levite, both supposedly holy men in God's service, had already passed by as far away as they could away from the Jewish man. The Samaritan stopped and helped. 

I'm not advocating stopping and helping people alongside the road. Years ago we did often stop, and sometimes we still do, but with the advent of the cell phone, most people do have help on the way. What I'm looking at is in today's society we often hear the phrase, "don't judge me. The scriptures tell us not to judge", and so forth. 

What we have here are people who only know one or two verses of scripture, and those are the ones on 'don't judge'. The scriptures don't tell us not to judge at all, but not to judge with hypocrisy. That doesn't mean we have to wait until we are perfect to be able to tell someone that something they are doing is right or wrong. 

When I was in middle school a song called Harper Valley PTA became popular. It was about—if I remember right, a young widow being told by certain members of her community (Harper Valley PTA) that certain things she was doing weren't right. And in the end, she, the widowed woman, Mrs. Johnson, tells the local PTA  their sins and they are just a bunch of hypocrites.

There were a number of wrongs in this song and in this scenario. None of these people on either hand were competent or compassionate judges. One wrong was the sins of those pointing the first finger, but that finger does not excuse the honorable 'Mrs. Johnson' in her sin. Part of the problem is that we all are part and parcel of society. 

We ought to have a say in the standards of that society. In order to form a more moral society, we need better standards. That doesn't mean we should judge harshly or be hypocritical. It does mean we should be able to use good standards for all people.  

If we decide we don't want people walking around with their breeches down around their knees and their underwear hanging out then no one would be exempt. Not men or women. There was at one time a 'foul language ban'. There used to be community standards, some were enforced some were not. At one point some were enforced then became obsolete and are still on the books. 

I don't wish anyone ill, but the phrase, 'what I do in my bedroom is no one else's business', doesn't cut it anymore. We have come to realize who we are in private influences who we are in public. Second place, when people start bringing what they do out of not just their closet but out of their bedroom and parading it down the street it becomes societies' business. 

In the above-mentioned song what the 'hypocrites' did in private (they weren't parading around publicly) influenced Mrs. Johnson to flaunt her sin publicly. We have currently the closet society that has 'come out' publicly. Now we have child love arguments for that twisted behavior. These are both wrong, just as adultery and fornication are wrong. And we need to be able to say so. 

There are a number of things that on the surface don't look to be any of my business but they are because as the poem says 'no man is an island'.

Genesis 4:9  "And Jehovah said unto Cain, Where is Abel thy brother? And he said, I know not: am I my brother's keeper?"

Hallelujah! What a Savior! 

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

On the Wrong Bus?

A few years ago I heard of a passenger who ended up on the wrong airplane. There was quite a kerfuffle, and I don't remember when or how it got sorted out. I can't for the life of me understand how such a thing happened. However, most of us have had times we've been lost, or in the wrong place.

A few weeks ago several of us at church were chatting when the subject of going the wrong way on a one-way street came up. It was a small group, but most had that experience. What was surprising is that no one had been injured or caused an accident.

I was in my early thirties and on my way to a doctor's appointment when I turned one light too early and found myself on the one-way street. What to do? My initial response was that I should make a U-turn so I'd be driving in the right direction. Since there wasn't any traffic, it would have worked, but I didn't do that because I thought maybe I would get rear-ended by a car behind me...

Okay, that wasn't my sharpest moment. Point number one there was no traffic coming toward me—that was good news. Number two, I was going the wrong way, and God forbid anyone should be following me.

Luke 15:11  "And he said, A certain man had two sons: 12)  and the younger of them said to his father, Father, give me the portion of thy substance that falleth to me. And he divided unto them his living. 13)  And not many days after, the younger son gathered all together and took his journey into a far country; and there he wasted his substance with riotous living. 14)  And when he had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that country; and he began to be in want."

Most of us know the parable of the 'Lost Boy,' or better known a 'the Prodigal Son'. The son that thought he knew better than his father. The young man took all his inheritance and got away from home and family. He was FREE! Of course, it's the old story of fair-weather friends that helped him spend all of his money on wine, women, and riotous living. When the money was gone so were they. He scrambled to find anything to feed himself, and so he was hired to feed the hogs. When he hit bottom, he thought about home and family and decided to go home and become a servant in his father's house. But what about those he left behind? 

Luke 15:20  "And he arose, and came to his father. But while he was yet afar off, his father saw him, and was moved with compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him."

It has been suggested that the father was watching for him; longing for him to come home. Having had children leave the nest, I know that does happen for a time. Yet after a time,  be it weeks, months, or years, a parent has to come to grips that your bus travels on, and for the moment that child isn't on your bus. 

Never-the-less, the father saw him coming and ran to greet him. Welcomed him home, and reclothed him, put new shoes on his feet, rings on his fingers and whatnot, as if he'd not left. Took his son back as a son, not as a servant. 

There are two major decisions in life we each must make. The first is whether to become a Christian. As long as you're on that bus, you're heading in the right direction. I know people who choose to follow their own way tooling down the road of life. They see nothing special about the Christian bus, but as we studied in Vacation Bible School this year Jesus said:

John 14:6  "Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, and the truth, and the life: no one cometh unto the Father, but by me."

The second major decision is if and who you choose to marry. When you're on the Christian bus you want someone who will help you on your journey, and ultimately someone who will spend eternity with you and Jesus. It is said that as a Christian you will not go to heaven alone. The sad thing is that as a non-believer you won't go to hell alone either.

If you're on the wrong bus get off now. Nothing really matters as to how what when or why you are on that bus. What matters is that you get off that bus and get on the right one. Remember the Father wants you to come home.

Hallelujah! What a Savior!