Saturday, May 27, 2017

Graduation Day is Coming

Just before the final exam in a college finance class, a less-than-stellar student approached the professor and asked, “Can you tell me what grade I would need to get on the exam to pass the course?” The prof jokingly gave him the bad news, “The exam is worth 100 points. You would need 113 points to earn a ‘D’ in the course.” “Okay,” said the student. “And how many points would I need to get a ‘C’?”

Yup, it’s graduation time again! Fifty years ago this year at my High School graduation I walked off the stage with a rolled-up piece of paper still dumb as a rock and naive as a puppy. I guess I make it sound worse than it really was because as far as being able to look after myself and already knowing what work was all about, I considered myself light-years ahead of some of my fellow classmates. I did get in some trade-school time and landed a great job, just before Uncle Sam decided to uproot me from my parental flowerbox to show me some new scenery and change my career. That’s when one gets to meet the rest of the world, and like being plunged into ice-cold water, the culture shock is intense. Now is the time when the books are set aside and survival mode has to kick in. The real you comes to the surface and one has to begin paying for their own mistakes of which I still make plenty of. I really can’t complain about much these past fifty years. The disciplines of my youth have kept my civil records clean and my God-given talents have earned me a roof over my head, clothes on my back and food in the fridge. I have a good, loving wife, without whom I would be destitute, and a great, loving God, without whom I would be lost. I try my best to keep life simple and look forward to life eternal.

A poor memory has plagued me throughout life and have found solace in this unknown author’s “Memory System”: Forget each kindness that you do as soon as you have done it; Forget the praise that falls to you the moment you have won it; Forget the slander that you hear before you repeat it; Forget each slight, each spite, each sneer, where-ever you may meet it. Remember every kindness done to you, whatever its measure; Remember the praise by others won, and pass it on with pleasure; Remember every promise made and keep it to the letter; Remember those who lend you aid and be a grateful debtor; Remember all the happiness that comes your way in living; Forget each worry and distress, be hopeful and forgiving; Remember good, remember truth, remember heaven’s above you, and you’ll find, through age and youth, that many hearts will love you.

[Ecclesiastes 12:12-14] At the end of Solomon’s teaching he writes: “...Of making books there is no end, and much study wearies the body. Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil.” The famous American thinker and writer Ralph Waldo Emerson once wrote, "This time, like all times, is a very good one if we but know what to do with it.” Thankfully, the Bible gives us all the instruction we need to know what to do with our time. “Be very careful, then, how you live – not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is” (Ephesians 5:15-17). “ peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:2-4). Graduation Day is coming.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Why Is The Ship Sinking?

In 1628 the Swedish warship Vasa was set to take its maiden voyage. The ship was built, and upon completion was one of the most powerfully armed vessels in the world. However the maiden voyage didn’t go that well. Less than a mile offshore the ship encountered what was described as a slight breeze that capsized and sank it. How could such a powerful war ship go to the depths so easily? Well, archaeologists have found four rulers used by the workers; two turned out to be based on Swedish feet with 12 inches, the other two used Amsterdam feet, with 11 inches. This caused the center of gravity to be off and therefore it took very little force to tip the ship. How could that happen? One group worked on one side of the ship with their ruler and the other on the opposite side with their ruler. Although the ship looked mighty and powerful, its symmetry sank it.

I heard a profound statement the other day which made me sit and ponder the inference of such a thought. “We in America are already involved in a great civil revolution, except it hasn’t been recognized by its citizens as such because it isn’t the revolution they’ve been expecting.” The revolution that is changing our government and voiding our Constitution is taking place right under our noses - in Congress, in the courts of our land, and in our schools and churches. There is so much sand flying through the air in and around the sandbox we call Washington, D.C. almost everyone involved with conducting business in this country has been blinded by the shovels-full of accuser-sand childishly being thrown about to produce chaos everywhere possible. The American citizen-ery is sitting around watching the idiot-box, drinking beer and oiling their guns while the country is being conquered by godless, greedy, double-minded, two-faced fools. Now, if a battle in the streets is what you really want, kick back and wait – it’s coming, but I suggest we start using our intelligent mouths before shouting with gun powder. People think we can have unity with different doctrine, different rules, and different measures. At present, too many different standards are being applied to our Godly way of living and if forced to sail a ship based on this way of thinking, we’re all going down together no matter what your convictions are. The finished ship (The United States of America) may look impressive, but it could sink the minute it’s pressed with these unknown difficulties.

[2 Timothy 4: 3-4] I think the same thing is happening in our religious world today. It looks impressive but that boat won’t float. Paul warned Timothy: “For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.” This country, and for that matter, the world and the church, is building up for itself destruction stemming from God’s wrath for the evil being practiced to destroy His name (Romans 1:18-32). When black and white Biblical principles and church doctrine are glazed over with sugar coated worldly thinking in direct defiance of God’s Word, His wrath is building, and the release thereof will not be pretty. “I appeal to you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought” (1 Corinthians 1:10). God’s Word cannot be compromised by accepting worldly standards that directly oppose it. For the sake of God and Country, put your gun down and pick up your Bible.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

A Parable For Mothers

A PARABLE FOR MOTHERS by Temple Bailey - The young mother set her foot on the path of Life. "Is the way long?" she asked. And her Guide said: "Yes, and the way is hard. And you will be old before you reach the end of it. But the end will be better than the beginning." But the young mother was happy, and she would not believe that anything could be better than these years. So she played with her children, and gathered flowers for them along the way, and bathed with them in the streams, and the sun shone on them, and life was good, and the young mother cried: "Nothing will ever be lovelier than this”. Then night came, and storm, and the path was dark, and the children shook with fear and cold, and the mother drew them close and covered them with her mantle and the children said: "Oh, Mother, we are not afraid for you are near, and no harm can come." And the mother said: "This is better than the brightest of days, for I have taught my children courage." And the morning came and there was a hill ahead, and the children climbed and grew weary, and the mother was weary, but at all times she said to the children: "A little patience and we are there." So the children climbed, and when they reached the top, they said: "We could not have done it without you, Mother." And the mother, when she lay down that night, looked up at the stars and said: "This is a better day than the last, for my children have learned fortitude in the face of difficulty. Yesterday I gave them courage, Today I have given them strength." And the next day came strange clouds which darkened the earth - clouds of war and hate and evil, and the children groped and stumbled, and the mother said: "Look up! Lift your eyes to the light." And the children looked and saw above the clouds an Everlasting Glory, and it guided them beyond the darkness. And that night the mother said: "This is the best day of all, for I have shown my children God." And the days went on, and the months and the years, and the mother grew old, and she was small and bent. But her children were strong and tall and walked with courage. And when the way was hard, they helped their mother; and when the way was rough they lifted her, for she was as light as a feather; and at last they came to a hill, and beyond the hill they could see a shining road and golden gates flung wide. And the mother said: "I have reached the end of my journey. And now I know that the end is better than the beginning, for my children can walk alone, and their children after them." And the children said: "You will always walk with us, Mother, even when you have gone through the gates." And they stood and watched her as she went on alone, and the gates closed after her. And they said: "We cannot see her, but she is with us. A mother like ours is more than a memory. She is a living presence."

[1Samuel 1:1-28]  In the days of Hannah, it was a total disgrace to be childless and even more-so never birthing a son to ones husband. Hannah is one of several women in the Bible who never gave up on the hope of having children and especially a son whom they could dedicate to the service of the Lord. Trying as hard as he could, Elkanah, Hannah’s husband, couldn’t reverse the distress she was under, provoked by her peers. Hannah turned to the Lord in deep anguish and the promise of giving her son to Him, if he would so grant her desire. Samuel was born to Hannah and did indeed become a great servant of the Lord. The weeping prayers of a mother for her children, even before conception, are heard by God and every child born of woman is a blessing from our God.

Saturday, May 06, 2017

The Truth Will Set You Free

A woman goes to the butcher shop to buy a chicken for her Sunday meal. It was late on Saturday and the butcher has only one scrawny chicken left. He puts it on the scale. “Three pounds,” he says. “Oh, that’s too scrawny! Don’t you have something bigger?” the woman asks. The butcher pretends to rummage around looking for another chicken, and then puts the same chicken back on the scale, while pressing with his thumb. “Three and a half pounds,” he announces. “That looks better,” says the smiling lady. “I’ll take them both.” It’s an old joke with a big lesson about being truthful and how deception can lunge one into an embarrassing situation. I’m not the smartest guy in the world, and even though I’ve been accused of being too honest and truthful about things, I have found throughout life being truthful is easier than trying to remember the last lie I told, and to whom I told it. It’s easy to exaggerate and expound on a subject with untruth in hopes of getting to the head of the class, but the truth finds you out when proof is demanded.

[John 8:31-32] “To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, ‘If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.’” The indictment of Isaiah against his generation, a people who had temporarily succeeded in turning truth upon its head, is no less applicable today: “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter. Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes and clever in their own sight” (Isaiah 5:20-21). Though Isaiah’s generation perished in captivity the truth continued to march on. Their calling “evil good; and good evil” did not make it so. We face a similar challenge today, when right is called wrong and wrong is called right; while God, oddly enough, is portrayed as one of the world’s larger problems. Everything we once thought was true is now decried as false; all we once thought to be false is now lauded as true. But never forget this: truth will prevail. In the final analysis, when all has been said and done, when once-powerful nations have long-since crumbled into the dust of oblivion, God’s truth will prevail. The empire of the Caesar’s is gone; the legions of Rome are decaying in the dust; the avalanches that Napoleon hurled upon Europe have melted away; the pride of the Pharaohs is fallen; the pyramids they raised to be their tombs are sinking in the desert sands; Tyre is now only a rock for bleaching fisherman’s nets; Sidon has scarcely left a wreck behind; but the Word of God still survives. All things that threaten to extinguish it have only aided it; and it proves every day how transient is the noblest monument that man can build, and how enduring is the least word that God has spoken. Tradition has dug for it a grave; intolerance has lighted for it many a fire; many a Judas has betrayed it with a kiss; many a Peter has denied it with an oath. Many a Demas has forsaken it, but the Word of God still endures. Men may deny truth’s very existence. They may denounce it and demonize it. They may debate it incessantly. But truth will prevail. “Let me understand the teaching of your precepts; then I will meditate on your wonders. My soul is weary with sorrow; strengthen me according to your word. Keep me from deceitful ways; be gracious to me through your law. I have chosen the way of truth; I have set my heart on your laws. I hold fast to your statutes, O Lord; do not let me be put to shame. I run in the path of your commands, for you have set my heart free” (Psalm 119:27-32). Jesus said, “I tell you the truth...” and I believe him.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Why Get Angry?

This past Friday was one of those days when one feels, “If one more thing goes wrong today, I think I’m going to explode!”  Friday is my busiest day with a lot of activity and last minute gathering of news and notes for publication in the weekly bulletin for Sunday distribution. On top of that, it’s the end of the month with extra communications, monthly donation obligations to mail out and monthly reports to begin assembling for upcoming business meetings. Well, everything normally sails right along until, the phone starts ringing off the hook, people start filling the office in need of this or that and I find myself in and out of the office going here and there helping others and half the time only spinning my wheels accomplishing nothing. Then, on top of it all, the computer starts doing goofy things and the printer starts going berserk, pushing all my buttons while I’m pushing all its buttons. By the time I got it stopped everything inside me was showing outside, but, I kept the top of my head on and continued dealing with my office visitor. About forty-five minutes later I discovered what was going on. It seems my anti-virus program, Microsoft and Adobe all decided to send an update at the same time. I’m not a computer expert by any means, but I’ve concluded recently that some new install manager programs tend to take parts of the computer hostage while updating to avoid the user from messing things up, hence it seems something is wrong with the computer. Give it time and a restart is my standard practice. When three updates are going on at the same time, one is better off going to lunch no matter the time of day, know what I mean?

An Old Chinese proverb goes like this: “If you are patient in one moment of anger, you will escape a hundred days of sorrow.” I’m not sure about the number of days, but the basic idea is certainly true. Any of these sound familiar? “I wish I hadn’t said what I did.” “I would give anything if I had kept my mouth shut.” “I wish I could take it back.” Most of us have been forced to use one or more of these, or similar, expressions. What about the determination to keep ourselves under control? Some brag that they speak their mind. Those who have to hear them know that is not a good thing (something I’m still trying to control and it seems it might take the rest of my life). The rest of us need, in calmer moments, to resolve that we will speak with poise, even when provoked.

[Proverbs 16:32] “Better a patient man than a warrior, a man who controls his temper than one who takes a city.” Each of us needs to say, “I am determined, with God’s help, not to let anyone make me angry enough to lose control of my temper.” When we lose control - we lose. “...Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires. ...humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you” (James 1:19-21). Sir Winston Churchill's funeral was on January 30, 1965. He had instructed that after the benediction, a bugler positioned high in the dome of St. Paul's Cathedral would play Taps, the tune that marks the day's end. But that was not the end. Another bugler was placed on the other side of the massive dome, and he played Reveille, the tune that marks the coming of a new day and a call to rise. That was Churchill's testimony concerning the resurrection. He wanted those gathered to know that there is hope beyond the grave and judgment because Jesus Christ has opened the door to heaven for us by His own death, burial and resurrection. God’s reveille trumpet will sound soon (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18)