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.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Incontrovertible Truth

There’s a lot in this world that can be confusing and some of it holds no truth so I have to be refusing. For example: Have you ever met Miss Under Standing? Have you ever seen a cat fish or a house fly; how about a horse fly; maybe a dragon fly or a fire fly? I’ve heard say that there’s butter fly, but have you ever seen a lemon punch, a waffle iron or a milk shake? Maybe you’ve seen a clam bake, or a hog wash, but I’ll bet you’ve never seen a barn swallow or a house paint. The play on words probably gained its popularity with the song, “Did You Ever See An Elephant Fly?” in the Disney movie “Dumbo”. The circus entertainers were mocking an act they had heard about but had never witnessed as yet and the song went like this: “Did you ever see a elephant fly? Well I’ve seen a horse fly; I seen a dragon fly; I seen a house fly. I seen all that too! I seen a peanut stand and heard a rubber band; I seen a needle that winked its eye. But I’ve been, done, seen about everything, when I see a elephant fly. What’d you say boy? I said when I see a elephant fly! I seen a front porch swing; heard a diamond ring; I seen a polka dot railroad tie. But I have been, done, seen about everything, when I see a elephant fly. I saw a clothes horse and he rear up and buck; And they tell me that a man made a vegetable truck, I didn’t see that, I only heard. Just to be sociable, I’ll take your word. I heard a fireside chat, I saw a baseball bat; And I just laughed until I thought I’d die. But I’ve been, done, seen about everything, when I see a elephant fly. But I’ve been, done, seen about everything, when I see a elephant fly; When I see an elephant fly.” Personally, I thank God, elephants and cows don’t fly.

[Psalm 25:4-5; John 8:31-32; 17:17; 1:1-5, 14] Remember what your elders have told you, “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably isn’t.” In the case of “Dumbo”, it took imagination and animation to make an elephant fly. But in today’s world it’s a lot easier to make one convinced that un-truth is truth by using made-up words and double talk based on “scientific examination”. So, what about God’s Word? Winston Churchill, I love this guy, said, “The truth is incontrovertible (a real word). Malice may attack it, ignorance may deride it, but in the end, there it is.” What did Churchill mean when he said that truth was “incontrovertible”? Hidden away in the word is the word “controversy”. Mr. Churchill was saying that truth is incapable of controversy. Truth is incapable of being contradicted. Truth cannot be denied! Truth is unchangeable. It is true! God’s Word is truth. In his prayer, Jesus said, “Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.” In John 1, John states, “In the beginning was the Word (Jesus), and the Word (Jesus) was with God, and the Word (Jesus) was God. He (Jesus) was with God in the beginning. Through him (Jesus) all things were made; …The Word (Jesus) became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” Malice may attack it, ignorance may deride it, but in the end, there it is. David penned, “Show me your ways, O Lord, teach me your paths; guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long.” We will be judged by the Word of God (John 12:48). 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.” Man is not reading God’s Word, rather, “…what their itching ears want to hear.” (2 Timothy 4:3-4)

Sunday, July 06, 2014

238 Years Old

On July 2, 1776, as year long battles with the British army lingered, the Continental Congress secretly voted for independence from Great Britain. The Declaration of Independence was first published two days latter on July 4, 1776. The first public reading of the document was on July 8, 1776. Delegates of the colonies began to sign (ratify) the Declaration of Independence on August 2, 1776. In 1791, July 4th was dubbed “Independence Day” and was the beginning of day long celebrations with parades and shows, picnics and games, ending the day with bonfires and illuminations. In 1870, Independence Day became a national holiday. The “Fourth of July” ought to rank right up there with birthdays and anniversaries. The men who had the fortitude to forge this document knew they were placing their lives on the line for the sake of freedom from tyranny. If King George could have gotten his hands on some of these men he would not have hesitated to do away with them. Today we face the same threat with people wanting to dispose of the freedoms those men fought for. Slowly but surely, the hands of our founding fathers are being tied behind their backs in ready for execution. The American public had better wake up and get to the poles if they expect to retain their freedoms and pass them on to their grandchildren. This country is in a sad state of affairs with less than 20 percent of its citizens voicing their freedom of speech. At 238 years old, our government is beginning to show signs of serious illness.

George Washington, first president of the United States, had this to say in his farewell speech September 19, 1796: “It is impossible to govern the world without God and the Bible. Of all the dispositions and habits that lead to political prosperity, our religion and morality are the indispensible supporters. Let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion. Reason and experience both forbid us to expect that our national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.” Some claim Washington wasn’t a Christian. Consider these words from his personal prayer book: “Oh, eternal and everlasting God, direct my thoughts, words and work. Wash away my sins in the immaculate blood of the Lamb and purge my heart by the Holy Spirit. Daily, frame me more and more in the likeness of thy son, Jesus Christ, that living in thy fear, and dying in thy favor, I may in thy appointed time obtain the resurrection of the justified unto eternal life. Bless, oh Lord, the whole race of mankind and let the world be filled with the knowledge of thy son, Jesus Christ.” When was the last time you prayed for your success by the strength of Jesus? It’s our only hope now.

[Ephesians 1:7-8] “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding.” When we live in, and for, Christ, we become more and more like him. Our ethics and moral standards grow strong, into a love for one another that cannot be broken. In this process, God’s grace abounds and we experience peace. Max Lucado wrote: “God wants to emancipate his people; he wants to set them free. He wants his people to be not slaves but sons. He wants them governed not by law but by love. We have been liberated from our own guilt and our own legalism. We have the freedom to pray and the freedom to love the God of our heart. And we have been forgiven by the only one who could condemn us. We are truly free.” Hold on to God.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Contentment

I suppose anyone with a pet has the desire of wanting the ability to have better communication with their little friends. Our relationship with our pets seem to be rocking right along without any problems and then we come home to find the flower beds uprooted and holes dug all over the lawn, or walk inside to discover what looks like a miniature tornado has passed through the interior of our house. They certainly don’t start purring and rubbing against your leg or stand there looking at you with their tail wagging asking for approval for what they have done. On the contrary, for if they have been disciplined in the past they generally tuck tail and cower away to get as much distance between you and them as possible. As you cool off you begin to wonder why, you probably start talking to your pet like a child, actually expecting an answer. Pet owners have to figure out what the complaint is all about and adjust for it. I know for me it’s a lack of attention and exercise that sets my little one off and she definitely expresses her displeasure in very noticeable ways. Some more of those growing pains.

A rabbit, a mouse and a chicken all took up residence together. They worked up a very good plan wherein all of them shared in the workload. The rabbit cooked the meals, the chicken brought in the firewood and the mouse acquired water from a nearby brook. They were all very happy. One day as the hen was going into the woods to collect firewood, she was approached by a busybody crow. He inquired as to what she was doing. Upon hearing her responsibilities he began to tell her how the rabbit and the mouse were taking advantage of her by doing the easy work. She just could not rid her mind of this discussion. On her way home she grew angry thinking how she was being abused by her roommates. She made up her mind to do something about it. Arriving at home she started complaining about her workload, “It’s not fair that I always have to do the hardest work. Why don’t we switch things up?” Well, a heated discussion ensued and the other two decided that they were also doing the hardest work and that a change would indeed be the best solution. As discontentment will do, it had spread from the chicken to the others. Now they were about to change their lifestyle with which they were very satisfied. The rabbit would get the firewood while the mouse cooked and the chicken brought the water. As the rabbit hopped into the woods to get the firewood, a fox saw him and followed him, until he got the chance to catch and eat the rabbit. The chicken took the pail to the brook and dipped it into the water. The current however was too strong for her and it pulled her under. The mouse sat at home on the edge of the pot of stew he had made and waited for the others to arrive. Sitting there he dosed off, lost his balance and fell into the pot. The, dreadful, end.

[Philippians 4:10-13; Proverbs 26:20-21] It all began as discontentment with life. It ended with all of them losing their life. Paul wrote: “…I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation. …I can do everything through him who gives me strength.” Don’t get me wrong here. Change can be good, but if it is to benefit you alone, it could destroy everything around you. Sometimes we have to learn to live with some circumstances of life. The next time you complain about something, don’t be so ready to cause upheaval. Express your opinion without heavy opposition and the willingness to listen to others. I’m still trying to learn this very difficult lesson myself.