Sunday, August 17, 2014

God's Seed - No Other Will Do

A successful businessman was growing old and knew it was time to choose a successor to take over the business. Instead of choosing one of his directors or his children, he decided to do something different. He called all the young executives of the company together for a meeting. “It is time for me to step down and choose the next CEO. I have decided to choose one of you.” The executives were shocked as the boss continued, “I am going to give each of you a seed today – one a very special seed. I want each of you to plant your seed, care for it, and come back here one year from today with what you have grown. I will then judge the plants and the one I choose will be the next CEO of this company.” One man, Jim, went home and excitedly, with seed in hand, told his wife the story. She helped him get a pot, soil and some compost, and together they planted the seed. He watered it every day, but it didn’t seem to grow. After three weeks the other executives began to talk about their plants that were beginning to grow. Weeks turned into months. As the others bragged about their plants, Jim kept quiet about his empty pot. He felt like a failure and knew he must have killed the seed. He thought about replacing the seed but knew that would be dishonest so continued to water and nurture the seed given to him. The day came to meet again. He felt sick to his stomach. It was going to be the most embarrassing day of his life. When Jim arrived with his empty pot he was amazed at the variety of beautiful plants the other executives were presenting. As Jim coward near the back of the room he heard the CEO say, “My, what great plants, trees and flowers you have grown! Today one of you will be appointed the next CEO of this company.” Jim was spotted and ordered to come forward with his product. When Jim got to the front the CEO asked him what had happened to his seed. Jim told him the story… The CEO asked everyone to sit down except Jim whom he asked to remain standing. Motioning toward Jim, the boss announced, “This is you next Chief Executive Officer.” Nobody could believe what they just heard. Then the boss said, “One year ago today I gave everyone in this room a seed. I told you to take the seed, plant it, care for it , and bring it back to me today. What I gave you were boiled seeds, impossible to grow. All of you, except Jim, have brought me trees and plants and flowers. When you found that your seed would not grow, you substituted another seed for the one I gave you. Jim was the only one with the courage and honesty to bring me a pot with my seed in it. He is a worthy successor.

[Luke 8:1-15; Hebrews 4:12-13; 1 Corinthians 3; Isaiah 55:6-11; Galatians 1:6-9] * “…The seed is the Word of God.” * “…the Word of God is living and active.” * “… I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow.” * “…so is my Word that goes out from my mouth, it will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.” * “…if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned.” God has given man all he needs for righteous living through His Word. When man thinks it isn’t working, he tends to substitute it with his own seed of earthly salvation. Plant God’s seed only. Water it with sound Biblical teaching and God will make it grow. We sometimes think we are failures because we don’t see the results we expect, but “Well done my good and faithful servant” will be the greatest of rewards.

Saturday, August 09, 2014

There Are No Loopholes

I’m often asked what I think about this or that and there is never a shortage of subjects that need solving at the coffee table. When asked about the multiple conflicts erupting throughout the Middle East, all I can say is, the world is in a mess and most everybody has an opinion on what the best solution for each situation should be to bring about peace. The rub in coming up with the perfect plan for peace is – there has never been peace in the hearts of some men and cultures. The stigma of, you hurt me – I hurt you back, that prevails on both sides of a fence of superciliousness (look that up in your Funk and Wagnall), in my opinion, can’t be fixed. Then there’s the question of what to do about our own domestic backsliding. I’m afraid that in the interest of fair play, even our legislators have painted themselves into a corner of political correctness. They have tied their own hands behind their backs and are now too afraid to stand up, shake a fist in the air and say, “We’re going the wrong way!” I think we’re all turning into a bunch of Wooses sitting around complaining about our constrained law oppressed lifestyle in the land of milk and honey ignoring the fact that the foundation of our great nation is crumbling beneath us. The degradation of moral and ethical standards in this country has already produced cultures of hate and discord resulting in lawlessness in neighborhoods of some metropolitan areas. Ask the citizens of Colorado if they’re real happy with their decision to legalize ‘whacky tabacky’. All I can say is, since discipline and the will of God have been shelved, we’re going the wrong way!

The story is told of a young lady who came to a preacher for advice on her upcoming marriage. She considered herself a Christian with high Godly standards and was about to marry a ‘good ole boy’ but not a Christian. The preacher asked her to step up on a chair and then proceeded to help her step up onto his desktop. He said to the girl, “Now pull me up to where you are.” She tried with all her strength, but failed. The preacher, still holding the girl’s hand, gave a very slight tug and pulled her to the floor. He said to the young lady, “It is more probable that this non-Christian boy will pull you down to his level than it is that you will ever pull him up to your level.” Keep compromising the ideals of our founding fathers, drawn from God’s Word, and you too will find yourself being gently pulled down into the depths of ignorant bliss. For the lack of wisdom, the land of milk and honey is turning sour and beginning to smell rotten.

[Proverbs 11] One of the most popular entertainers of the Vaudeville era was W.C. Fields (1880-1946) While Fields could make audiences roar with laughter, he was certainly not a Christian and made no pretense of his disdain for the Bible. Thus, it came as a great shock when one of Fields’ close friends, visiting him in the hospital near the end of his life, found him reading the Bible one day. When asked what he was doing, Fields, ever the comedian, said, “Just looking for loopholes.” God’s law, unlike man’s, has no loopholes. No lawyer will be able to fool or sway the judge of all men or be able to negotiate a plea bargain. Hebrews 9:27 reminds us, “…man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment…”, and 2 Corinthians 5:10 reads, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.” If you were to die this very day, where would you spend eternity? God knows and he wrote it down for you.

Saturday, August 02, 2014

Unexpected Troubles

If you are a regular reader of my column you probably know my history with vocal cord problems. If not, I have had several surgeries on them to remove growths and pre-cancerous tissues all of which, thank God, have never shown full blown cancer. Because of this condition I have a regular inspection of my throat and vocal cords just to keep an eye on them and jump in whenever an unfavorable change is noted. The inspection of my throat is done with a camera all-the-while I am squeaking out funny “he-he-he” in a high pitch then “he-he-he” in as low a pitch as possible. Then it’s inhale and exhale two or three times getting the throat and cord a good workout and recording it all on the computer. During my last check-up, about six weeks ago, one cord had a noticeable change in color and when I inhaled this great big cyst jumped out of hiding taking the tech by surprise. Here we go again! My ENT of twenty years asked what I thought we aught to do about it. I trust him enough to tell him whatever he thinks we need to do. The challenge of each of these surgeries is to get my voice back and sing praises to my Lord, which is still a mystery to my doctors. I continue to achieve this goal each time. Well, I had surgery last week to remove and biopsy all the bad stuff. I don’t have an answer yet but the surgeon was very positive about what he saw. This was unexpected for me, but as I’m healing from this most recent surgery I can confidently say, I feel great and can’t wait to get singing again. God loves me.

[Luke 21:34-36] If you think life isn’t fair, you’re absolutely right. Just about the time you become complacent, thinking everything’s going perfect, grab your wallet, because easy living is about to cost you something. “…The race is not to the swift or the battle to the strong, nor does food come to the wise or wealth to the brilliant or favor to the learned; but time and chance happen to them all. Moreover, no man knows when his hour will come: As fish are caught in a cruel net, or birds are taken in a snare, so men are trapped by evil times that fall unexpectedly upon them” (Ecclesiastes 9: 11-12). A father was watching his young son struggle to lift a heavy rock. The little fellow grunted and strained, but couldn’t move it. The father said, “Are you sure you’re using all your strength?” The exhausted boy said, “Yes, I am!” The father replied, “No you’re not. You haven’t asked me to help you.” How true. We grunt and struggle with our burdens in this earthly life, often forgetting that our Father in heaven is always willing to aide us. “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). Have you ever thought about how easy Adam had it? He’s the only man who has never been compared to the man she could have married. He had no in-laws to drop in unannounced. There were no “Jones’” for him to keep up with. There were no credit cards or shopping centers to deal with. His dinner was never interrupted by a telemarketer. His wardrobe was simple. He never had to shovel snow. I thank God I can go to surgery with the total confidence that He is in charge, and my faith in Him brings peace into my world of unexpected happenstances. How do I gain such contentment? It is through Jesus: “I can do everything through Him who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:13). Stop struggling and ask God. “But Tom, he doesn’t seem to ever help me.” Okay; read James 4:1-8 and 1 John 5:14-15 and ask with the heart. Then, read the Bible daily and learn of the one who loves and will always care for you.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Who Are We Trying To Impress?

What was billed as the world’s most expensive new book went on display in 2008 at the New York Public Library. There are more expensive old books, but this is a new book produced by the Italian publisher Marilena Ferrari. It costs over $100,000! The book depicts the life and works of Michelangelo, including photographs of his drawings and sculptures, creations from the Sistine Chapel, and his personal poetry. The book weighs sixty-two pounds, has a front cover of white marble and is covered with red silk velvet. Its paper is from one of Italy’s oldest paper mills, the same mill where Picasso bought his art paper. Each copy of this book takes six months to make, and comes with a 500 year warranty! More than twenty of the books have been sold to buyers around the world. What I need to know before I invest in one of these books, is the warranty transferable and if repairs are needed in four hundred and fifty years, who is going to honor the warranty? Can it legally be called the Ferrari of books?

Having satellite TV has its advantages but lately I have to express my opinion on about half of the programming as redundant nonsense skirting the fringe of insanity. To call some of the “entertainment” sublimely ridiculous would actually be giving them a compliment hence I bypass the circus for fools in favor of a little education, of which some must still be received with much scrutiny. What really makes me wonder is, who are we (mankind) really trying to impress, when having to endure the commercials on TV about all the fountain of youth chemical concoctions available to the baby boomers that refuse to gracefully grow old. It brings to mind Californian, Jack LaLanne, famed diet and exercise guru, whom we expected to live to be at least 100. Pneumonia overcame the health Jack at 96 years. It seems most people today want to be 30-years-old forever. Ain’t gonna happen my friend. After one reads all the warnings and possibly fatal side effects of most of these elixirs, Jack’s way does appear to be a lot healthier in the long run. In the final analysis, what I conclude after listening to all those snake-oil sales is, a lot of folks are going to look healthy, lying in their coffin.

[Job 14; 1 Samuel 16:7; Isaiah 40:6-8] One day a lady had to show her drivers license at a store for identification. She told the cashier, “Please don’t pay any attention to that picture, it’s awful! I guess that’s what I’ll look like when I’m dead.” Staring at the picture the cashier said, “Oh, they’ll make you look a lot better than that!” We spend a lot of time worrying about our outward appearance, don’t we? And yet the most important thing about us is who we are on the inside. “…The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” Do you clean and dress your inner being as well as your outer body? You can do that by practicing kindness and consideration, and remembering God in all that you do. What about nourishment for your inner being? For the spirit of man to be healthy it must be fed regularly with the truth of God’s Word. Other books are valuable because of their outward appearance, craftsmanship, quality of materials and the time that goes into their production, but they will never surpass the value of God’s Word. Why? Because it is God’s inward appearance revelation of himself to man. Its warranty is forever. Jesus said, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away” (Mark 13:31). God bless you and may he make you healthy, wealthy and wise.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Keep Swimming

The world is becoming more challenging every day and in the words of Oliver Hardy as he numerously reprimanded Stan Laurel, “Well, here’s another nice mess you’ve gotten me into.” I suppose as long as there is hatred, jealousy and greed, wars and rumors of wars will always be on the earth for how ever long man exists. Recent world events have shown that mankind is traveling down a road to major world conflict once again and I can’t see North America escaping the ravages of global war this time. Why do I feel this way? Technology has removed the need for most of the face to face combat of past wars and it seems there is no conscience in the finger that pushes the button of electronic guidance. August of this year will be the 100th anniversary of what H.G. Wells said would be the “war that will end all war”, World War I. In these past 100 years all man has accomplished in his intellectual advancement of the “greater good” is the hardening of his own heart. Ones own life and possessions is far more important than the life of a fellow human being. It’s really sad when you think about it.

In the Dr, Seuss book, “Oh, the Places You’ll Go” there is a section that talks about experiencing the bumps and bruises that come in the journey of life. “You’ll be on your way up! You’ll be seeing great sights! You’ll join the high fliers who soar to high heights. You won’t lag behind, because you’ll have the speed. You’ll pass the whole gang and you’ll soon take the lead. Wherever you fly, you’ll be best of the best. Wherever you go, you will top all the rest. Except when you don’t; Because sometimes you won’t. I’m sorry to say so but, sadly, it’s true; That Bang-ups and Hang-ups can happen to you. You can get all hung up in a prickie-ly perch; And your gang will fly on; You’ll be left in a lurch. You’ll come down from your lurch with an unpleasant bump; And the chances are then, that you’ll be in a slump. And when you’re in a slump, you’re not in for much fun; Un-slumping yourself is not easily done.”

Two frogs fell into a deep cream bowl; The one was wise and a cheery soul; The other took a gloomy view; And bade his friend a sad adieu. Said the other frog, with a merry grin, “I can’t get out, but I won’t give in; I’ll swim around until my strength is spent; Then I will die, the more content.” And as he swam, though ever it seemed; His struggling began to churn the cream; Until on top of pure butter he stopped; and out of the bowl he quickly hopped. The moral of the story you ask? Oh, it’s easily found! If you can’t get out, keep swimming around.

[Galatians 6:1-10; Revelation 21:1-8] I know the world sometimes feels like we’ve fallen into a cesspool of sin, pulling us down into an abyss of a slump, complaining and crying because of the great bump, there where we’re tempted to just give up. But let me encourage you to keep swimming around. No matter what happens in this world, if we hold true to our faith we’ll hop out of here into the arms of God who has promised to, “…wipe away every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain; …To him who is thirsty I will give to drink without cost from the spring of the water of life. He who overcomes will inherit all this…” We all need to “de-slump” ourselves. Look to God’s Word (Acts 20:30-32); look to Jesus (Hebrews 12:1-2); look to God’s love (2 Corinthians 5:1-5); and look to God’s grace (1 Corinthians 15:9-11). Life is not fair, but the justice of our God will be righteous, deserving and eternal.