Saturday, November 22, 2014

Does He Really Care?

I’m about to enter the crescendo of life which has been reserved for those of us who have managed to live long enough to see it. I’m discovering that it takes a lifetime of wisdom to deal with Social Security and Medicare issues and decisions. Shopping for health insurance that won’t leave one penny-less has always been a problem. Like the old TV commercial used to remind us, “Pay me now, or pay me later” it still seems to hold true whether we’re fixing our vehicle or maintaining our body. Choices have befuddled my wife her entire life, extending from the grocery shelf to a simple burger menu, she has a real tough time making a decision. It’s hard for her to grasp the concept of paying for good insurance over a period of time or going bankrupt if and when everything goes south. We don’t like to think about it, but life doesn’t seem to get any easier and it will take wisdom to press forward. Old age ain’t for sissies.

There was a man who had worked all his life and saved all his money. He was a real miser when it came to cash. He loved money more than just about anything and just before he died he said to his wife, “Now listen. When I die I want you to take all my money and place it in the casket with me. I want to take my money to the afterlife.” So he got his wife to promise him with all her heart that she would do that for him. Well, one day he died. He was stretched out in the casket and his wife was sitting next to her close friend. When the ceremony was ended, just before the undertaker was going to close the casket, the wife said, “Wait just a minute” whereupon she produced her dead husband’s favorite briefcase and placed it in the casket. The undertaker locked the casket down and rolled it away. Her friend protested, “I hope you weren’t crazy enough to put all that money in the casket.” She replied, “Sure I did. I promised. I got all the money together, put it in my bank account and wrote him a check.”

[1 Peter 5: 7] “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” That’s true! But it’s also true that God doesn’t care about some things – some of the things we care about deeply. God doesn’t care about how many Facebook friends we have. His concern is that we are Jesus’ friend. “When Jesus saw their faith he said, ‘Friend, your sins are forgiven’” (Luke 5:20). God doesn’t care how many Twitter followers we have. He only cares that we deny ourselves, take up our cross daily and follow Him (Luke 9:23). God doesn’t care about how many minutes we have on our cell phone plan. He cares about the minutes we spend talking with Him (1 Thessalonians 5:7; Ephesians 6:18). God doesn’t care if we have the fanciest watch. He wants us to watch the use of our time (Ephesians 5:16). God doesn’t care about the size of our homes or how much money we have. He wants us to realize that material things don’t last, “…store up for yourselves treasures in heaven…” (Matthew 6:19-21); “…put (your) hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment” (1 Timothy 6:17-19). God doesn’t care about what work we do. He wants us to do all things in His service and to His glory (Colossians 3:23-24). God doesn’t care about the color of our skin. He cares about the content of our character. (Galatians 5:22-23). God doesn’t care about a lot of things we care about. But God does care about us! He cares about us so much that he gave his son Jesus to die on the cross, the perfect sacrifice for the forgiveness of our sins. “…He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish…” (2 Peter 3:9). He cares for you!

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Busy, Busy, Busy

I can remember a time when one didn’t dare whisper the word Christmas until the last of the Thanksgiving turkey was gone from the refrigerator. Today it’s practically illegal to relate Christ to the “Holiday Season” for fear of offending someone, but that’s another issue all together. This year seems to be completely out of control with all the “gift giving” experts submitting their perfect time to shop analyses. They have fine-tuned the proper schedule for you to do your holiday shopping, netting you the greatest savings on your spending budget. There is a Greek word for all this hype – “Hog-wash!” All the retailers are trying to do is get you to come to their store with a certain thing in mind and they will be ready to accommodate you in that area. Face it. Retailers couldn’t wait to get school supplies and Halloween stuff off the shelf to fill them with goodies tempting you to empty your wallet over and over again before the end of the year. It’s all a hoax to make you think you’re sharing your God given love.

[1 Kings 20] Ben-Hadad king of Aram mustered an army, with the alliance of several other kings, to attack Ahab, king of Israel. The account reveals God sending a prophet to Ahab with instructions of how to overcome this attack. Ahab followed God’s orders and war was averted. Ben-Hadad came to Ahab and asked for a treaty of peace whereupon Ahab called Ben-Hadad “brother” and signed a treaty with him. As far back as the Exodus from Egypt, God told the leaders of the Israel nation, “…I will hand over to you the people who live in the land and you will drive them out before you. Do not make a covenant with them or with their gods. Do not let them live in your land, or they will cause you to sin against me, because the worship of their gods will certainly be a snare to you. (Exodus 23:31-33). The prophet took this matter to King Ahab that he might pass judgment, thus convicting himself (1 Kings 23:35-42). God has given you and I his very own son as the full sacrifice for our sins. In verse 40, the prophet illustrated King Ahab’s disobedience to God’s will, “…While your servant was busy here and there, the man disappeared.” I’m afraid too many of us are getting so busy here and there that Jesus, our Savior, has disappeared. We are writing far too many treaties with the world and the gods in it, instead of slaying the tempters snares.

Dear Friend; I’m sending you this note to tell you how much I love you and care for you. I saw you yesterday as you were talking with your friends. I waited all day hoping that you would want to talk with me as well. As evening drew near, I gave you a sunset to close your day and a cool breeze to rest you. I waited, but you never came. Yes, it hurt me, but I still love you. I saw you fall asleep last night and I longed to touch your brow, so I spilled moonlight upon your pillow and face and again I waited for a chance to talk with you – but you never came. I have so many blessings I want to bestow upon you, but you never seem to have time for me. This morning you awakened late and rushed off without our being able to visit. My tears fell with the rain. If you would only let me tell you how much I love you. I try to tell you in the blue sky and in the quiet green grass. I whisper in the leaves and breathe it in the colors of the flowers. I shout it from the wind rustling through the trees and give the birds love songs to sing. If you only knew how much I long to visit and talk with you. Please call me …and don’t forget …I love you! Your friend forever; Jesus. Are you too busy to notice He’s there?

Saturday, November 08, 2014

He's a Liar!

Praise God for our recent rains and I pray you got a decent amount in your back yard. With the winter months creeping up on us combined with the time change, it gets dark outside way too early making for a long evening indoors cooped up with a hyper-active Chihuahua. Little Bella easily contracts cabin fever and tends to take her pent up energy out on her toys, picking them up and shaking the devil out of them. Not being very good at entertaining herself she does her best to get me involved in her aerobic activities by sitting in front of me, with toy in mouth, staring at me as if to say, “Play with me! Play with me!” Well, the tug-of-war game begins making her happy as a little kid in an amusement park. Eventually she’ll let go of the toy, I’ll throw it across the room and she’ll chase it, pick it up and shake it, as if killing it, then bring it back to me to start the cycle all over again. Of course, after about a dozen cycles my throws start to get a little wild jeopardizing favorite knickknacks and frayed nerves to the point my wife makes us stop our antics before something bad happens. The short fun and games periods aren’t enough to burn off all that energy and believe it or not she tends to become a little depressed when the weather keeps her indoors for a couple of days. We finally got outside and while I was picking up pecans she began to run around the yard like a wind-up toy gone wild, funny to watch and good to see her happy again.

Have you ever run across someone you found hard to impress with your life? A Maine potato farmer and a Texas rancher were engaged in conversation at a political rally. The rancher asked, “How much land do you tend?” The farmer replied, “Oh, about a hundred acres.” The Texan bragged, “I’ve got six thousand myself.” The farmer didn’t seem very impressed so the Texan continued, “My neighbor’s place is huge. He can drive his pick-up truck from early morning till noon and still not be half way across his place.” The Maine farmer noted, “I had a pick-up truck like that once.”

[Luke 12:13-21] It is said that life is like a coin; you can spend it any way you want, but you can only spend it once. So, when it comes to a lifetime of spending, which is the wiser investment: Godliness or Worldliness? We are in a tug-of-war every day of our life making decisions as to the best way to carry out our life. God has given us a hope of bigger and better things to come in the after-life and Satan says it ain’t gonna get any better than this. The devil is a liar! (John 8:42-47). He knows he can’t win over God with worldly materials, yet he dangles them before us and says, “Come play with me!, Come play with me!”, taking pop shots of temptation at us in an attempt to lure us away from God. He uses the disappointments of life to discourage our faith in God and get us to invest in the world. And guess what? He’s doing a good job! But: God’s eternal purpose cannot be overthrown (Acts 5:39). No person can live after the flesh and please God (Romans 8:8). A person cannot serve two masters (Matthew 6:24). No one can take anything out of this world (1 Timothy 6:6-10). One cannot avoid reaping what he has sown (Galatians 6:7-8). Man cannot escape death or the judgment (Hebrews 9:27). “What good will it be for a men if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Matthew 16:26). The world is full of cons looking to prey on your well meaning investments. The Liar is wanting you to gamble your soul on worldly pleasures against eternal life. Can you afford to lose?

Saturday, November 01, 2014

Yes, Sir!

Two buddies were out and about running around in a hot rod pick-up, on some unfamiliar country back roads, when they came upon a sign that read, “Road Closed – Bridge Out!” Stopped along side the road they discussed weather they should go forward and to possibly ford the stream or whatever when they came to the bridge problem, or to turn around and go another way. Because they saw fresh tire tracks in the dirt road ahead they reasoned the sign was old and forgotten about after the bridge repairs and should have been taken down long ago. So they decided to go forward with their trip. Rounding a sharp curve in the road the driver of the speeding truck suddenly slammed on the brakes causing the truck to slide to a stop just short of diving off into a deep ravine. Sure enough there was no bridge. The two looked at each other knowing they had just averted certain death. Returning to where the warning sign was posted they noticed on the reverse side another sign that read, “Close Wasn’t It?”

Hiroo Onoda, a Japanese soldier, continued to carry out orders given to him by his commanding officer upon landing on Lubang Island in the Philippines, December 26th 1944, until his surrender on March 10th 1975. Why did he continue fighting World War II for 29 years after Japan surrendered? Because he didn’t know? That was very unlikely because Allied troops and islanders alike knew of the presence of Japanese soldiers in the jungle and both had distributed fliers throughout the island jungle by land and by air informing the soldiers the war was over. All but Onoda had eventually succumbed to the harsh jungle life or believed the fliers and surrendered. Onoda believed the fliers to be propaganda lies and refused to surrender. Over the years he became a danger to the populous, shooting at uniformed people, killing soldiers of Filipino army patrols and stealing food from farmers. In 1974 a college student found Onoda and tried to convince him to leave the jungle and return to Japan. He refused saying he would not leave unless he heard from his commanding officer, personally resending his previous orders. The college student would not tell of Onoda’s location but did find and arrange for Onoda’s commanding officer to meet Onoda and give him new orders. Upon hearing from his commanding officer Onoda couldn’t believe Japan had lost the war but was obedient to his new orders. Dressed in full uniform he marched out of the jungle and surrendered his sward to Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos. Onoda was pardoned of his crimes because he thought he was still at war.

[Matthew 28:18-20] There’s a sign post up ahead, “Man is Destined to Die Once – Then to Face Judgment!” (Romans 9:27). The world is cruising on down the road to forever at break-neck speed with death staring each and every one of us straight in the eye. I guess you do know there are no brakes on the death of the body, which means we’re all going to slide right into eternity head first. Do you know we’re at war? We fight every day to survive being a righteous person (Ephesians 6:12). Jesus, our commanding officer, has left orders to “…make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you…” As unpopular as that may be, are you obeying orders? Are you carrying out those commands until your commanding officer returns? Who has the right to change those orders? Jesus’ order, is God’s Word.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

You Are Invisible

Our relationship with the world is at times so paradoxical it becomes confusing and frustrating. Comedians and satirists exploit this situation in “paraprosdokian” sentences which are a figure of speech where the latter part of a sentence or phrase is surprising or unexpected in a way that causes the reader or listener to reframe or reinterpret the first part. For example: * “Light travels faster than sound and this is why some people appear bright until you hear them speak.” * “It seems we never really grow up, we only learn how to act in public.” * “Knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit and wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.” * “The early bird might get the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese.” * “The evening news is where a reporter begins with ‘Good Evening’ and then proceeds to tell you why it isn’t.” * “I thought I wanted a career but it turns out I only wanted paychecks.” * “A bank is a place that will lend you money, but only if you can prove you don’t need it.” * “Why do Americans choose from just two people to run for President and 50 for Miss America?” * “I used to be indecisive, but now I’m not sure.” * “You’re never too old to learn something stupid.” * “War does not determine who is right, only who is left.” And probably my very favorite – “Politicians and diapers have one thing in common. They should both be changed regularly, and for the same reason.” - Don’t forget to vote November 4th.

Have you ever considered the relationship between two healthy eyes? They blink together; they move together; they cry together; they see things together; they sleep together; but they never ever see each other. (I know – the mirror thing. Humor me:-)
[John 14:1-11; 20:24-29] Have you thought about your relationship with God? Most people have a problem with wrapping their arms around something they can’t see. When Jesus says, “…Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father” (John 14:9), his closest followers had a hard time understanding that, until they learned more and witnessed more of his works and the fulfillments of prophecy. Later Jesus said to the same followers, “…Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed” There’s where you and I come in. Our faith in God and his promises comes from the Bible; God’s Word; the inspired writings of the patriarchs, prophets, Apostle’s and church founders. “…faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ” (Romans 10:17). We have never seen God, or Christ, or the Holy Spirit, but we have an intense inner feeling of spiritual connection we cannot explain, and sometimes go so far as trying to explain it away. Why should I deny myself (Mark 8:34-38), or become a slave (Matthew 20:25-28), or love my enemies (Luke 6:27-36) so I can please a being I can’t relate to one on one? I hear ya. I’ve had the same thoughts. Unlike worldly situations, nobody is going to make you go to heaven if you don’t want to. You’ll not be dragged into heaven kicking and screaming. God has given you the right to decide for yourself. God is not complicated. He has given us everything we need to live a righteous life, free of self and greed (Luke 12:22-34). We question: What if it’s all a fairytale, like the modern day scholars are telling us? I’ve got nothing to lose. I ask: What if it’s true? Now you have everything to lose. Jesus said, “What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self?” (Luke 9:25) Listen to your spirit; the real invisible you.