Saturday, September 24, 2016

We Could All Do Better

Well, I’ve been to Houston this weekend to attend the memorial for my sister. I can’t tell you about it yet for I’m writing early this week before I go. I do know I will be delivering the eulogy and I suspect many Houstonians, her colleagues of thirty years at Dow Chemical will be present to share some great memories and reverently say good-bye in their own special way. There will be family coming in from far and wide to celebrate her homecoming and share a meal of thanksgiving that will announce that we are all in a better place with Carri at rest in the arms of the Lord. After a few stories, some laughter and some catching up between one another, like a family reunion, we’ll probably promise each other to “keep in touch” through texting, email, Chat, Facebook, Messenger and all that good stuff, which may or may not receive follow-up by one or all parties. Then it will be time to rush back home to our ticky-tacky houses and antivenin world to do whatever it is we do to survive another day in this cruel unfair life. Rest in peace sis.

“Behind Me” by H. L. Gradowith: I'm gonna lay down all of this life's burdens; And I’m gonna lay down all of this life's cares. Yes I'm gonna leave them all far behind me; When I reach that Lovely Country over There! I'm gonna leave all my frowns behind me; And I'm gonna have a heart that never breaks. The Lord's gonna wipe all the tears from my eyes, Up There, in that Lovely Land of no mistakes! The Lord will give me all I ever need, There! Yes, the Lord will call my name and say, Well done! I will never want up There for anything! When, at long last, my Savior welcomes me Home!

[1 John 3:17-18; 4:20]  “If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with action and truth; If someone says, ‘I love God,’ yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen.” Don’t we all wish that everyone would be a better person? Do we not hope that some bad people would turn their lives around and start doing good? Do we wish our neighbor would treat us better than before? Do we hope that the people we meet each day would show us respect and treat us fairly? If we expect others to be nicer and fairer, should we not make the effort as well? The Golden Rule is that we should treat others the way we would want them to treat us (Luke 6:27-31). Be a better person now. Do not wait until next year and make a resolution about it. D0 not put it off until next week or even tomorrow. Start right now. Look at the person closest to you and show them love. Pick up the phone and call someone who would appreciate a thoughtful consideration. Help someone who needs it, and even if they do not need help, help them anyway. Perhaps they will return the favor and help someone else. If we would just try, we could turn our society around and make it a pleasant adventure each day to interact with others. Smile. Wish someone a nice day. Be courteous. Encourage others to be good. Tell people about God and His promises and meditate upon God’s Word. Don’t just talk the talk, but walk the walk. Show your love to others. One way to turn your life around is to change your focus. When you focus upon God you become a better person. When you focus upon helping others, you become a better person. Our goal is to get people focused upon God and become people that are better. Our community would be much better if more people were better, kinder, wiser.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

The Root of Many Evils

As a congregation of the Lord’s church we have in our budget every year provisions for benevolence to help those in immediate desperate need. I interview, screen and decide what appropriate action should be taken. It’s not the most favorite part of my job because sometimes we simply can’t help. Then again, at times, I have been able to coordinate with several congregations, each giving some, to satisfy a need. The question is, “What about next month?” Money management has become a viable asset to every household in maintaining a course of comfort and well-being. Misappropriation of money ear-marked for utilities and manageable debt can only develop into un-manageable debt, worry and anxiety. The biggest unrest in our homes today centers around money. For some reason the American public refuses to live within their means of income, causing lots of  unrest.

These tenants gave landlords creative reasons for avoiding paying their rent. * “With my daughter’s graduation, our new boat, and our  trip to Europe this year, we’re a little strapped.” * “I’m getting real tired of paying this rent every month! You’ll have to wait a few days.” * “We’re a little short right now. But don’t worry—we’re getting a refund on my wife’s tattoo. The artist messed it up, and we’re getting back most of the bucks!” * “I didn’t pay the rent because I’m saving up to move.” * “It’s your fault the check bounced. Why didn’t you tell me you were going to run to the bank with it the very same day!”

Ananias and Sapphira lied to God about the price of the land they had sold. They died for their greed (Acts 5:1-11). King Ahab pouted like a baby when Naboth refused to sell him his vineyard, so Jezebel killed Naboth and gave the land to her husband. But this evil pair paid for their covetousness when they later became dog food (1 Kings 21:1-23). Judas Iscariot was a thief who stole from the money bag and betrayed the Lord for thirty pieces of silver (John 12:6; Matthew 26:15). In the end he regretted what he had done and hanged himself (Matthew 27:3-10). The rich man in Luke 16:19-31 lost his soul because he was too cheap to help a poor man near his property. Few things are as deceptive as money. Jesus warned that the worries of life and the “deceitfulness of wealth” could “choke” God’s word and cause it to be unfruitful. (Matthew 13:22). Paul said in his well-known passage on the love of money: “People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.” (1 Timothy 6:9-10). We live in a world infected with greed. Make money, spend money, and dream of having more - these ideas are drilled into our minds from youth. In this life money talks and many listen. Solomon said (I think with tongue–in-cheek) “ is the answer to everything.” (Ecclesiastes 10:19). Money is power, and power is money. But Solomon, who was rich beyond our imagination, warned that wealth will only leave you feeling empty and depressed (Ecclesiastes 2:1-21; 5:10-15). If men had written the Bible, it may well have contained the following, “The Greedy Man’s Prayer:” Our money which art in banks, Hollow be thy fame. Thy power corrupts. Thy will be done in recession, as it is in prosperity. Buy us this day more than we need. And increase our debt, as we fail to pay our lenders. And lead us not into charity, but deliver us from helping others. For thine is the misery, and the vanity, and the flames of hell forever.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Who Will Take Care of You?

Well, the day has arrived and all heaven is rejoicing at the arrival of another saint who has successfully completed their earthly journey. My sister peacefully passed away this past Wednesday morning about 9 a.m. with her closest friend, close by, as it should be. Although it was hard to watch her decline in health over the past seven months, and very much pronounced the past six weeks, her Lord, in whom she placed her total faith in, used our older brother, Art, and her closest of friend’s, Earl, to fulfill her wishes and answer her prayers to depart this life gently, quietly and faithfully. With her quality of life gone, Carri’s charges were finding each day a little more difficult to handle, but they remained faithful to their commitment of maintaining her dignity, of which I cannot praise them enough for. Early Wednesday morning, Earl found Carri to be having a little stress in her breathing and saw to it that she receive some medication that might help. But within minutes she took that last breath, so quietly it was missed even by those in the room. I praise my Lord for allowing Earl to be in her presence, because I think Earl wanted it that way, even though he knew it would be very painful. God is good all the time, and to the faithful and obedient, he blesses and gives the strength needed to pick up the pieces and move on. There was a great thought posted on Facebook the other day: “I believe the hardest part of healing after you’ve lost someone you love, is to recover the “you” that went away with them.” Till we meet again Carri – keep my love, as I yours.

[Romans 12] I’m getting old enough that my youthful confidence of “I can take care of myself” is beginning to wane somewhat, and a small voice is questioning, “Who’s going to take care of you?” That question, of course, is a test of my faith because I trust in my Lord to handle all my affairs and guide me along my way in what’s left of this life. As a part of God’s family I want to do my best to help another sojourner along their way. Here’s an article from Bulletin Digest: “When you think of your home congregation, what are some words you would use to describe it? Active, warm, loving, sincere, giving, evangelistic; or cold, dead, apathetic, stuck in a rut, cliquish. Part of how your home congregation can be described is directly related to your role in that same congregation. If you are consistently warm and friendly, the congregation is warm and friendly because you help make up the church. If you keep to yourself or just go through the motions, the congregation does, too, because you help make up the church! You definitely have an effect on the Lord’s church. How the church is seen in your community depends on what you do or don’t do every time you meet with the saints. God can use your efforts to grow His kingdom! One easy way to make sure you’re doing your part to make the church warm and loving is to be a greeter. Smile and speak to all who come. Have you ever visited a congregation and left shaking your head because no one spoke to you? That should never be said of the Lord’s church! “Greet one another with a holy kiss. The churches of Christ greet you” (Romans 16:16). “And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?” (Matthew 5:47). “Greet” appears 59 times in the New Testament. It means “to welcome” and also means “to respect, to be happy about, and to embrace.” What an impact we could make if we greeted everyone who comes into the assemblies in that way, visitors and members alike! The way we behave toward people indicates what we really believe about God.”

Saturday, September 03, 2016

How Valuable Is One Soul?

The fast-pace, multi-tasking, at the speed of light lifestyle some live, actually seems to be forming a cocoon around them, putting them into a state of blindness. Knowing that there are drivers on the road who can’t see and react to a big yellow school bus, stopped in the middle of the road, with flashing red lights all over it and signs that read STOP!, has me concerned as to the probability of getting home alive each day. The children getting on and off buses are always less attentive to traffic hazards than the drivers around them, at times resulting in bodily injury, and death. I hope enough tickets get issued where drivers start concentrating on the road and the task at hand rather than all the electronic gadgets and gizmos around them. Is a text or a phone call worth a life?

My sister’s health continues to decline, but my brother, Art, and her companion, Earl, continue to watch over her care every day. It’s sad to visit and see the changes in other patients, also declining in health. But, I think the saddest part of all is 90% or more never receive a visit of any kind. No, there’s nothing I can do about her health, but I can encourage Art and Earl, and above all, the staff of nurses who devote their life to life.

Jesus Loves Me (Senior Version) Jesus loves me this I know; Though my hair is white as snow. Though my sight is growing dim; Still He bids me trust in Him. Yes, Jesus loves me. Yes, Jesus loves me. Yes, Jesus loves me, The Bible tells me so. Though my steps are oh, so slow; With my hand in His I’ll go. On through life, let come what may; He’ll be there to lead the way. When the nights are dark and long; In my heart He puts a song, Telling me in words so clear, “Have no fear, for I am near.” When my work on earth is done; And life’s victories have been won. He will take me home above; Then I’ll understand His love. I love Jesus, does He know? Have I ever told Him so? Jesus loves to hear me say; That I love Him every day. Let a senior know you love them, too.

[Proverbs 11:30] “The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, and he who wins souls is wise” How valuable is one soul? The Master said, “What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Matthew 16:26). One soul is worth more than “the whole world.” Every soul is valuable because it is made in the image of God. Since “God is Spirit” (John 4:24), our likeness to Him must be spiritual, not physical. Like Him, we have intellect, emotion, conscience and volition. Every soul is valuable because Jesus died for it! It is true that “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son” (John 3:16), but let us not lose sight of the value of one soul in the midst of the 7.4 billion in the world today. Hebrews 2:9 tells us that Jesus died for every person! Every soul is valuable because it is immortal. The soul is the only part of man that will live beyond this life. The soul - your soul, my soul and every other person’s soul - will live forever! “For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality” (1 Corinthians 15:53). Every soul is valuable because heaven rejoices over the salvation of just one! When the woman in the Master’s story found her once lost coin, she rejoiced. The Master said, “In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents” (Luke 15:10). Knowing the value of the soul should accomplish two things: it should affect how we care for our own souls and it should motivate us to care for the souls of others. SOS - Save One Soul! Make this your goal!

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Prayer Works - When Applied

I think my dog works for my general practitioner. She’s constantly coaxing me out of my chair by either bring a toy to me and then keeping it just out of reach so I have to get up and out of the chair to play with her; Or she’ll sit in the middle of the floor staring at me until I get up and go let her outside. One-by-one she takes her toys out into the yard, via the doggie door, giving each a walk around the fence. It’s comical to watch as she seems to be giving each toy a tour of the yard every time they go out. After that she runs back inside, to stare at me some more, egging-me-on to go outside to play with her there. Of course her next move is to get me to chase her around the yard for a little cardio exercise for both of us. By-the-way, my vocal cords are clear once again and in six weeks they will get another inspection to see if they are still clear. Thanks for all your prayers.

[John 10:11-13; Matthew 7:15-20] I often ponder the thought of where will my leaders be when the wolf attacks. This is the scariest election we as Christians have ever faced, and as seen in recent polls, the Christians aren't voting Christian values. We all need to be on our knees. Do you believe we can take God at His word? Call upon His name, then stand back and watch His wonders unfold. 2 Chronicles 7:14 states. "...if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land." This scripture gives us, as Christians, ownership of this land and the ability to call upon God to heal it. I challenge you to do that. We have never been more desperate than now for God to heal our land. This election is the scariest I remember in my lifetime. During WWII, there was an advisor to Churchill, who organized a group of people who dropped what they were doing every night at a prescribed hour for one minute, to collectively pray for the safety of England, its people and peace. This had an amazing effect, as bombing stopped. There is now a group of people organizing the same thing here in America. The United States of America , and our citizens, need prayer more than ever!!! If you would like to participate, each evening at 9:00 p.m. Eastern, stop whatever you're doing, and spend one minute praying with sincerity for the safety of the United States, our troops, our citizens, for peace in the world, the upcoming election, and that the Bible will remain the basis for the laws governing our land, and that Christianity will grow in the U.S. If Jesus felt the need to pray to the Father, surely we need God’s help in our own lives. God knows our needs even before we ask, but still He wants us to ask (Matthew 6:8); and Jesus tells us that men “should always pray and not give up” (Luke 18:1). James wrote that, “the prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective” (James 5:16). Paul wrote in his first letter to the Thessalonians, “...pray continuously” (5:18). A prayer does not need to be long nor eloquent to be pleasing to God. It is to simply come from our heart as we humbly talk to our God and Creator. It was the simple and sincere prayer of the publican that was accepted by God, not the self-praising prayer of the Pharisee (Luke 18:10-14). Prayer is to be directed to God the Father, as Jesus illustrated in teaching His apostles to pray (Matt. 6:9), and in the name of Jesus (John 14:13). Sometimes we get “stage fright” when asked to pray in public. But it helps to know that God is our “audience” and not those around us. “Father, help us all to pray often with sincere hearts for we need Your help every moment of the day. In Jesus name, amen.”