Saturday, May 23, 2015

Remember and Honor

He just wanted to get the day over with. Sneaking a look at his watch he calculated five more minutes to go before the cemetery gates could be closed for the day. In full dress uniform on a hot Texas day, with humidity to match, he was ready for a cold drink. He saw the car pull into the drive, a looking like new, mint-condition ’69 or ’70 Cadillac Deville, and it entered the parking lot at a snail’s pace. An old lady, weighed down with flowers, slowly got out of the car, steadying herself with a cane. The thought came unwanted: ‘She’s going to spend an hour and I’m ready to get out of here right now!’ But for this day, his duty was to assist anyone coming to the cemetery. He knew that Kevin, his companion soldier on duty, would lock the ‘in’ gate and if he could hurry the old lady along they could still get out of there at a decent time. “Ma’am, may I assist you in any way?” he asked. She handed him the flowers as they boarded the golf cart used to get around the grounds. She said she needed to visit a few old Marines and at eighty-five years of age it might just be the last time. She noticed he was a long-time campaigner himself by the ribbons on his breast. “Wounded in action I see. Well done marine!” at which he replied, “Vietnam, ma’am.” Her directions were precise, then ordered the halt of her chariot, whereupon she placed flowers at a gravestone where under the name was engraved, ‘USMC; France 1918’. Then in the WWII section more flowers at a stone engraved, ‘USMC; 1943’ and at a nearby stone marked ‘USMC; 1944’. “Where’s the Vietnam section? I’ve seemed to have lost my way” she searched looking all around. “I’ll get you there in short order ma’am” the Marine assured her. Then, recognizing her surroundings, she placed flowers at two more gravesites, one marked ‘USMC; 1968’ and the other, ‘USMC; 1970’. Her guide inquired as to her relationship to all these Marines. She informed the soldier, “One was my father, one my uncle, one my husband and the other two, my sons, all killed in action, all Marines.” After returning her to her car, he radioed Kevin to go to the ‘out’ gate immediately; there was something they had to do. He ran across the field to the gate where they were to meet hoping he would get there before the Cadillac. Just in time, he and Kevin stood at attention, in full dress uniforms on either side of the gate, and presented a perfect salute. She drove through the gate with two old worn-out soldiers giving her the send-off she deserved, for service rendered to her country, and for knowing duty, honor and sacrifice. Memorial Day is for remembering and honoring

[Luke 22: 19; 1 Corinthians 11: 23-25] In Christianity every first day of the week, commonly referred to as the Lord’s day, is memorial day. Christians partake of the ‘Lord’s supper’, or ‘commune with the Lord’ in remembrance of what Jesus has done for us. He gave his life as the perfect sacrifice for the sins of mankind that through Jesus (John 13:6) we receive the grace of God which will save our soul from everlasting punishment. Grace is hard to explain, but here’s a good acrostic. GRACE: God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense. Without Christ we have no forgiveness of sin and it is only in Christ we can receive the grace of God; not through our works or negotiating power (Ephesians 2:1-10). Jesus gave his life to set us free from sin. Patriotic men and women of our great country have given their life for the freedoms we enjoy. If we ever forget that we are “One Nation Under God”, then we will be a nation gone under.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Now I've Gone To Meddlin'

The other day I was shocked to hear that some perspective employers are now demanding employee applicants to supply their email addresses, web page account addresses and all social media addresses with consent to allow examination of their contents. That brings up a lot of thoughts and questions about privacy and how much about you does an employer really need to know? Well, it seems when you spill your life out all over the inter-web one no longer has a personal life because you’re too dumb to keep it to yourself. The perspective employer gets to know about your personal practices such as, your social life and do you drink a lot and party your money away, and are you a gossip talking about others; or are you constantly cutting down the company where you are currently working and the people who work there. Ouch! Thinking that the inter-web is composed of some sort of invisible ink, social media nuts are laying their whole psychological profile on the line for analysis by anyone at any time. You might be totally qualified for a job, but not get it because you’re determined unstable. The ole inter-web, and the cell phone, is getting a lot of people in trouble as they leave a trail of inappropriate text messages, posts and tweets about themselves, forgotten and floating around in cyber-space like a silent witness of ones character, waiting to be subpoenaed. Maybe you aught think before letting your fingers do your talking, for sometime down the road you may regret being a quidnunc.

I shouldn’t let this out, but I heard my little Bella pray the other night. “Now I lay me down to sleep, the king-size bed is soft and deep. I sleep right in the center groove, my human-being can hardly move. I’ve trapped his legs, they’re tucked in tight, and here is where I pass the night. No one disturbs me or dares intrude, till morning comes and I want food. I sneak up slowly to begin, sniffing on my human’s chin. He wakes up softly, I start to lick, and suddenly he’s up real quick. For morning’s here, time to play, I always seem to get my way. So, thank you Lord, for giving me, this human person that I see, the one who hugs and holds me tight, and shares his bed for the night.”

[Proverbs 26:18-20; 18:6-8; 16:28; 11:13; 20:19 & Romans 1: 18 - 2:11] I really don’t want to get off on a rant here but God’s Word is very frank about gossip. First of all, what is gossip? Gossip, according to Webster is: “a trifling rumor of a personal nature; news of no importance.” ‘A’ gossip is: “one who chatters idly about others.” “…Like a madman shooting firebrands or deadly arrows is a man who deceives his neighbor and says, “I was only joking!” doesn’t soothe the hurt. A gossip has a way of breaking up good works and separating close friends. “A gossip betrays a confidence, but a trustworthy man keeps a secret; A gossip betrays a confidence, so avoid a man that talks too much.” Paul, writing to the Romans, expresses his disappointment in the new Christians because even though they know what is right in the sight of God, they are not practicing it. “Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.” Folks, when you get wrapped up in idle gossip, God is not very happy with you. You are encouraging others to sin! Do you really need to let everyone know what you are doing right now so they can talk about it? “The words of a gossip are like choice morsels, they go down to a man’s innermost parts.”

Saturday, April 18, 2015

What Would You Expect?

My lawn, along with most people’s lawn, has suffered much over the past few years due to the lack of rain. It takes rain to naturally decompose matter into new rich soil, full of nutrients, the natural way to fertilize the old garden. While city water might keep a lawn half way alive, the chlorine and fluoride contained in it have little value and can never replace the nitrogen rich rain water falling from the sky. Well, I decided after thirty years of neglect to help things along last fall by fertilizing my weary lawn, repeating the feeding once during the winter and another application just before the recent rains began. It now looks as though I might wear out all my lawn grooming equipment before the end of summer this year. Like the man says, “Well, what did you expect?” When logic sneaks up on me and slaps me up side the head all I can say is, “Doh!” and move on. It’s been a long time and the rain is very welcome. Praise God!

As they prepared for their final exam in Logic, the college professor offered his students some relief. He told them that they could bring as much information to the exam as they could fit on a piece of notebook paper. Most students crammed as many facts as possible on their 81/2 x 11 inch sheet of paper. One student, named Bob, walked into the exam room, placed a piece of notebook paper on the floor, and had an advanced Logic student stand on the paper. The upper graduate told Bob everything he needed to know, awarding Bob correct answers and the only student to receive an “A”.

If you got in your car and drove in the direction given by a sign that read, “Dallas – 20 Miles”, what would you expect to find after driving twenty miles? * If you passed a sign that warned “Speed Radar Patrolled” and you were driving ten miles an hour over the speed limit when you passed a police cruiser parked on the side of the road, what would you expect to happen? * If you decided to take a class at a local university and the teacher handed out copies of a syllabus that stated there would be a total of three tests in the coming semester, what would you expect? * If you stood before a preacher and a group of witnesses promising to love and remain with the person beside you until one of you died, and both of you were still alive in ten years, what would you expect?

[2Peter 2:20-22] A life insurance salesman was unable to persuade a couple to purchase a policy. “I certainly don’t want to frighten you into a decision,” he said as he got up to leave. “Please, sleep on it tonight, and if you wake up in the morning, call me, and let me know what you think.” If you walked into a place where people claim to worship God according to his word, what would you expect? * If you opened your Bible and read its descriptions of Jesus and the salvation from sins for those who repented and resolved to follow him, what would you expect? * If, like Saul of Tarsus, you were immersed in water so your sins would be washed away (Acts 22:1-16), what would you expect? * If you began meeting regularly with a group of Christians and they promised to welcome you among them as a brother/sister, what would you expect? * If you began living in ways similar to the ways you lived before becoming a Christian and stopped meeting with, and associating with, your brothers and sisters in Christ, what would you expect? * If you continued to live a life that led away from God and his people, and you died in that condition, what would you expect? If you were to die tonight, would you know, without a doubt, where you will spend eternity?

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Encouragement

The past two weeks I’ve had a few friends I haven’t seen for some time pop in and out of my life. It was good to see them and converse for a while. We baby-boomers are at the threshold of, or are already, retiring from a life of hard work, most of us earning an honest wage and ready to slow the pace of life a bit. Yes, I’m a Senior Citizen and cringe at the thought of whom I am becoming. I still try to be the life of the party… even if it lasts until 8 p.m. I have become very proficient at opening child-proof caps with my little hammer and water-pump pliers. I’m pretty much ready to go home before I get to where I’m going. I’m generally awake long before my body is ready to get out of bed. I smile a lot more now-a-days because I can’t hear half of what you’re saying. I catch myself telling the same stories over and over and over. People say I’m grouchy, but I don’t think so. I just don’t like traffic, waiting, crowds, lawyers, loud music, unruly kids, Jennie Craig and Toyota commercials, barking dogs, politicians and a few other things I can’t think of at the moment. I’m sure everything I can’t find is in a safe secure place, somewhere. I used to joke, “If I’d known I was going to live this long, I’d have sure enough taken better care of myself” and now I’m discovering the joke is on me. The adage, “Old age ain’t for sissy’s” is coming into view and some serious health maintenance is in order enabling me to press forward without too much pain and gritting my teeth (dentures) all the time. Adults are way too young these days and when did they start allowing kids to become policemen? It’s all down hill now.

All joking aside, life is a wonderful journey set before us by our Creator and hurried along by people sharing the way who take time to encourage our endeavors. “A word of encouragement during a failure is worth more than an hour of praise after success” (Unknown). “Correction does much, but encouragement does more” (Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe). “The finest gift you can give anyone is encouragement. Yet, almost no one gets the encouragement they need to grow to their full potential. If everyone received the encouragement they need to grow, the genius in most everyone would blossom and the world would produce abundance beyond our wildest dreams” (Sidney Madwed). “There are high spots in all of our lives and most of them have come about through encouragement from someone else. I don’t care how great, how famous or successful a man or woman may be, each hungers for applause” (George M. Adams). “Flatter me, and I may not believe you. Criticize me, and I may not like you. Ignore me, and I may not forgive you. Encourage me, and I may not forget you” (William Arthur). “I believe that a man’s life will be filled with constant and unexpected encouragement, if he makes up his mind to do his level best each day, and as nearly as possible reaching the high-water-mark of pure and useful living” (Booker T. Washington). Thanks for yours to me.

[Hebrews 3:12-13] Paul said: “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair…” (2 Corinthians 4:8). The word perplexed means more than just being puzzled. It comes from the Greek word “aporeo” which means “to be at loss with ones self; be in doubt; not to know how to decide or what to do, to be perplexed” (Thayer, 66). One might say it means to be at your wit’s end. Using the Word of God to encourage someone who is perplexed is to help keep them from falling into despair. When folks are desperate - life comes unglued. God is love; God is in control; our glue.

Saturday, April 04, 2015

Newness Of Life

This story has been around for some time and research has never produced an author. It’s one of those stories that morph’s into many versions but with the same message in the end. A message of renewal – newness of life. Jeremy was born with a severe disability and some mild intellectual impairment. Although Jeremy was 12 years-old, he was still in second grade at his Christian school. In fact, his teacher, Miss Miller, had repeatedly tried to put Jeremy in a special education class, but the boy’s parents were big on inclusion and they wanted him to stay with his classmates. This frustrated Miss Miller as she had 18 other youngsters to teach. But she prayed and asked God to give her patience. Spring-time came rolling around and also the usual lessons Miss Miller taught about Easter. She explained the story of Jesus to he class; that he died on the cross for our sins and rose from the grave victorious. She then gave the class an assignment. Each child was given a large plastic egg and told to take it home and bring it back the next day with something inside that showed new life. All the children were super enthusiastic, that is except for Jeremy. Miss Miller wasn’t certain Jeremy even understood the assignment. The next morning the children came to school, each talking about the surprise inside their egg. The eggs were all placed in a wicker basket on Miss Miller’s desk. Just before morning recess it was time to open the eggs. In one egg a child had placed a small silk flower, a perfect sign of new life, Miss Miller commented. The next egg contained a little plastic butterfly, which the teacher also commented positively. When Miss Miller opened the next egg she found it empty. Because nothing was in it Miss Miller assumed it was Jeremy’s egg, convinced he must not have understood her instructions for the assignment. Because she did not want to embarrass the disabled boy, she quietly set the egg aside and reached for another. But Jeremy spoke up, “Miss Miller, aren’t you going to talk about my egg?” The teacher replied, “Jeremy honey, your egg is empty.” As she had feared, the class burst into laughter. Undeterred and with the simple wisdom of a child he said, “Yes; but the tomb of Jesus was empty too!” The recess bell rang and while the children ran out into the school yard, Miss Miller went to her desk, quietly sat down and dabbed her tear filled eyes. Here for an entire semester she felt it a waste of time trying to teach that little boy. He was too much of a distraction and the extra attention she had to give him was a heavy burden. But all the while, she can now see, Jeremy possessed an insight to godly things that were far beyond those of his classmates. Three months later, his true health problems, unknown to his teacher or classmates, Jeremy passed away. Those who paid their respects at the funeral home were surprised to see 19 colorful plastic eggs on top of his casket – all of them open, and empty.

[John 20:10-18; Romans 6:3-11; 2 Corinthians 5:17; Ephesians 4:22-24] “…don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.” “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come.” Are you prepared for the opening of your own tomb? (John 5:24-30) Are you looking forward to sharing in the resurrection of Christ – to meet your God?