Sunday, February 01, 2015

No Longer Imperfect

I just woke up from a good nap. When I was a child I thought “Nap Time” was a punishment… now as a grown-up, it feels more like a mini vacation. I don’t just jump up and get started with life again. It generally takes me a few minutes to acclimatize again, of which I often spend in philosophical thought. Wouldn’t it be great if we could put ourselves in the dryer for ten minutes to come out wrinkle-free and three sizes smaller? I told myself I was going to retire this year and live off my savings, but on second thought I had no idea what I was going to do the second week. Why do I have to press one for English when I’m only going to get transferred to someone I can’t understand anyway? People tell me I need to be more tolerant. My people shills are just fine. It’s my tolerance with idiots that needs work. Oops! Did I just roll my eyes out loud? Sorry! I’ve discovered the biggest lie I still tell myself is… “I don’t need to write that down, I’ll remember it.” I’ve lost my mind and I’m pretty sure my kids took it.

A ten-year-old girl was eating breakfast with her grandfather. Thinking she was fairly intelligent he asked, “Do you know what tomorrow is?” Without skipping a beat she answered, “It Presidents Day!” Expecting to hear something about Washington or Lincoln or other past Presidents he asked her, “What does Presidents Day mean?” She replied with authority, “Presidents Day is when the President steps out of the White House and if he sees his shadow we have another year of buffoonery.” I’ll bet it scared the poor little girl to see hot coffee erupting from her grandfather’s nose.

Of course we all know children have no inhibitions when it comes to expressing their thoughts which at certain ages is a gumbo of myths, jokes, tall tales and facts. Here are some thoughts about angels. * “I only know the name of two angels; Hark and Harold.” * “Angels work for God and watch over kids when God has to go do something else.” * “My guardian angel helps me with math, but he’s not much good for science.” * “Angels talk all the way when they’re flying you up to heaven. The main subject is where you went wrong before you got dead.” * “When an angel gets mad he takes a deep breath and counts to ten. And when he lets out his breath again, somewhere there’s a tornado.” * “Angels live in cloud houses made by God and his Son, who is a very good carpenter.” * Some of the angels are in charge of helping heal sick animals and pets. And if they don’t make the animals get better, they help the child get over it.” * “What I don’t get about angels is why, when someone is in love, they shoot arrows at them.” * “Angels don’t eat but they drink milk from Holy Cows.”

[1 Corinthians 13:11] “When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish things behind me.” As children we are selfish… me, me, me… Mine, Mine, Mine! While Paul is writing about the “most excellent way” of being a part of the body of Christ, his emphasis is on… what is love? If we understand what love is then we are able to mature becoming God’s people, a people that will please God. Paul gives an example of the maturing of God’s Word, His will for us, through the prophets and miracles. All these things will be done away with and we will be left with the perfection of God’s Word, the Bible, to mature us in faith, hope and love. The greatest of these is love. We may not understand all the Bible has to teach us, but there is no imperfection in God’s message of love.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

You'll Find One Another

I thought I was slowing down and perhaps “losing it” but I feel much better after reading the following article by Science Correspondent, Sarah Knapton. “Scientists believe older people do not decline mentally with age, it just takes longer for them to recall facts because they have more information in their brains. Much like a computer struggles as the hard drive gets full up, so too do humans take longer to access information. It has been suggested, researchers say, this slowing down is not the same as cognitive decline. ‘The human brain works slower in old age,’ said Dr. Michael Ramscal, ‘but only because we have stored more information over time. The brains of older people do not get weak. On the contrary, they simply know more.’ Also, older people often go to another room to get something, and when they get there, they stand there wondering why they came there in the first place. It is NOT a memory problem. It is nature’s way of making older people do more exercise.” So, quit laughing at me!

From the, “Don’t Mess with Seniors” department: Jennifer’s wedding day was fast approaching. Nothing could dampen her excitement – not even her parent’s nasty aunt Minnie. Her mother had found the perfect dress to wear and would be the best-dressed mother-of-the-bride ever! A week before the wedding Jennifer was horrified to find that Aunt Minnie had bought the exact dress to wear at her wedding. Her mother graciously said, “Never mind sweetheart. I’ll get another dress. After all, it’s your special day.” They went shopping and found another dress, better than the original. “Aren’t you going to return the first dress?” asked Jennifer, “you really don’t have another occasion where you could wear it.” Her mother just smiled and replied, “Of course I do, dear. I’m wearing it to the rehearsal dinner the night before the wedding.”

[John 10: 1-21] One cannot enter into heaven by any other door but Christ.
An elderly man down on his luck, went into a church which catered to the “uppity”. Spotting the man’s dirty clothes, a deacon worrying about the church’s image, went to the man and asked if he needed help. The man said, “I was praying and the Lord told me to come into this church.” The deacon suggested that the man go pray some more and possibly he might get a different answer. The next Sunday the man returned. The deacon asked, “Did you get a different answer?” The man replied, “Yes, I did. I told the Lord they don’t want me in that church, and the Lord said, ‘Don’t worry about it son; I’ve been trying to get into that church for years and haven’t made it yet’”.

Here are some “ABC’s” to think about. Although things are not perfect, Because of trial or pain; Continue in thanksgiving, Do not begin to blame. Even when the times are hard, Fierce winds are bound to blow. God is forever able Hold on to what you know! Imagine life without His love, Joy would cease to be. Keep thanking Him for all the things, Love imparts to thee. Move out of “Camp Complaining!” No weapon that is known On earth can yield the power Praise can do alone. Quit looking at the future; Redeem the time at hand; Start every day with worship – To “thank” is a command. Until we see Him coming Victorious in the sky. We’ll run the race with gratitude Xalting God Most High. Yes, there’ll be good times and yes some will be bad, but Zion waits in glory where none are ever sad. Jesus came to seek and save the lost (Luke 19:10). “…seek first his kingdom…” (Matthew 6:33) and you’re bound to find one another.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

A Good Book and Quiet Time

Have you ever really taken the time to sit back to discover where you spend your time and money? Most people don’t, thus the world-wide consumer is eyeball deep in debt searching through the inter-web for the next great deal that will save them a ton of money on the newest and bestest, just gotta have product on the market. A 2014 Gallop poll concluded that the American consumer spent on average $94 per day in the month of August that year down from $98 per day in May. Consider what the American public consumes on average. Granted, a barrel of oil yields a lot of different products, but consider this. In 2013, as reported by the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the U.S. alone consumed a total of 6.89 billion barrels of petroleum products, an average of 18.89 million barrels per day. (This total includes .32 billion barrels of bio-fuels.) In October 2014 we consumers bought, on average per day, 27 million gallons of gasoline and 12.5 million gallons of Ultra Low-Sulfur diesel for our cars, pick-ups and lawnmowers. At present, the average cell phone bill is $73, according to a recent J.D. Power report. It is said that the average smart phone user spends 58 minutes a day talking, texting, inter-webbing, emailing, social networking and playing games. Today, Americans consume an enormous amount of media daily via television, radio, phone and computer. Exactly how much media flows to individuals and households in a year? According to Science Daily, October 2013, the University of California Marshall School of Business reported it amounts to 6.9 zettabytes – that’s 6.9 million, MILLION gigabytes! The frightening part is how much time we are spending inhaling all this stuff. In 2008, Americans talked, viewed and listened to media for 1.3 trillion hours, an average of 11 hours per person per day. By 2012, total consumption had increased to 1.46 trillion hours, an average of 13.6 hours per person per day. It is estimated that in 2015 Americans will consume media for more than 1.7 trillion hours, an average of approximately 15.5 hours per day. The amount of media delivered will exceed 8.75 zettabytes, or in another term, 9 DVD’s worth of data sent to the average consumer on an average day. Is it any wonder why we are all tired, irritable and cranky and out of control? I think what we all need is a good book, some quiet time and some extra sleep.

[James 4:1-10; 1 Corinthians 2:6-12; 2 Timothy 3] “…we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the Word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God. And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God” (2 Corinthians 4:1-4). The good book I referenced to of course is the Word of God, the Bible. And the quiet time we are all so lacking is time with God, reading and socializing with the Creator. How good a book is it? Paul tells Timothy, “All scripture is God breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness…” (2 Timothy 3-16). The odd part of Bible study is not learning how to teach, rebuke, correct and train someone else; it’s a selfie lifestyle adjustment that changes everything. A lot of things deemed important in this world won’t matter much anymore when we discover what God has waiting for us in our eternal heavenly home.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Don't Be Too Anxious

This getting older business is beginning to put a damper on my plans to slow down a little and lead a quieter lifestyle. I’m beginning to realize that the adage, the older you get the faster time goes by, has some credence to it. On the other hand it could have something to do with my recently adapted attitude of putting off today what can be done tomorrow and discovering now I have twice as much to do today. I’ve also discovered that a short afternoon nap has a tendency to quickly and quietly dissolve an hour of unproductive time. Oh well, I figure I’ve paid my dues and find it comforting that I don’t have to be working out in the freezing cold and rain or one hundred degree summer afternoons anymore, unless I want to. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not looking for work as I still have plenty to do every day, its just one gets the feeling there’s not enough time to do it all. Probably the biggest damper on getting things done is health maintenance. I reckon it’s the same for most of us over 60. It comes natural as the years fly by that we seem to be receiving more business cards from doctors than Christmas card from friends. I find it hard to plan too far ahead anymore because an appointment with a specialist is more valuable than spending the day doing what should have been done yesterday, but then again an appointment in the big city generally develops into a lunch date with my spouse. We had fun last week. I had a sore on my nose that would never completely heal looked at and biopsied a few weeks back which turned out to be a basal cell cancer needing further treatment. With my worried wife in tow off we went to another specialist an hour’s drive to the other side of the big city. The consult appointment turned out to be a surgical procedure to dig out the bad stuff, stretching my nose skin over the hole and suturing it all together again in an attempt to preserve my good looks as best as possible. I didn’t expect to have the surgery that day but welcomed it as it saves another trip to Egypt and back. The whole thing is done with a local anesthetic and Valium is offered to reduce anxiety if there is an alternative driver available. My wife refuses to drive in the big city anymore and besides, I’m a guy; I don’t need no stinkin’ drugs. I told the doctor to give the Valium to my wife because I could see her anxiety level on the rise like she was the one about to have the procedure. (She always worries). Safe to say, cancer free, for now. Hurray!

[1 Peter 5:6-7; John 14:6] When it comes to our physical health we’re all a little anxious as to what might be wrong and what might have to be done to correct the abnormality. Added to the scheme of it all is the fact that we must be referred to one doctor then another and sometimes even more before we get a good diagnosis and final cure treatment, building to an anxiety crescendo for some people. Even though I know the local anesthetic will work and I’ll feel nothing, the brain is heightened with anticipation ready to react, thus a dose of Valium is offered for quieting the urge to faint dead away, or run away as in my wife’s case. I will admit to a small bit of anxiety, but my faith in the surgeon and the thought that my God has sent me to a good place for treatment is calming enough for me. Did I say God sent me there? Yes. I believe that my God is active in every part of my messed up life because He loves me and cares for me. I have this calming assurance because other believers brought me to Christ, and it’s through Jesus I enjoy the peace that only God can give (Philippians 4:4-7).

Saturday, January 03, 2015

Race of Life

This is the year that changes everything in my life. It’s the year when retirement, social security and health-care enter into my life with more confusion than trying to understand the IRS. Following the first decisive victory over Rommel by the Allied Forces in North Africa during WWII, Winston Churchill commented, “This is mot the end; It is not even the beginning of the end; It is though the end of the beginning.” That’s where I am in life right now. I’ve survived a lot of battles of life and even won a time or two, but the war is far from over. This year I’m going to share some of the past with you and let you, you who are old enough, explain it to your grandchildren.

It took a double-dog-dare to get me to share this with you and if you remember what that means, you understand. How many of the following do you remember? * Candy cigarettes; * Little waxed Coke-shaped bottles with colored sugar water inside; * Soda pop machines that dispensed glass bottles; * How about the wooden boxes stacked next to the soda machine to place your empty bottle in; * Coffee shops with table-side juke-box satellites; * Blackjack, Clove and Teaberry chewing gum; * Home milk delivery in glass bottles, with cardboard stoppers; * Party lines; * Newsreels before the movie; * P.F. Flyers; * Butch Wax; * Talking to the operator was the only way to getting a phone call made and telephone numbers with a word prefix (early area code) was necessary …(“Drexel-5505, please”); * Pea shooters; * Howdy Doody, * Hi-Fi’s, * 45 rpm records;* Green Stamps; Metal ice-cube trays with levers; * Mimeograph paper? There’s so much more but that ought to get a few conversations started. Good luck.

[1Peter 2:11-12; 1 Corinthians 9:24-27; 1 Timothy 6:11-16; Ephesians 6:10-18] It seems now-a-day we have no spiritual appetite because we are too full of ourselves. The biggest battles we have to fight are not on the home front defending our rights with lawyers and activists but on the spiritual front defending our souls from sin. If we were all more interested in living a righteous life void of self and greed we would be living in a much different world. Don’t get me wrong now. I’m not advocating socialism here and I don’t believe God has ever done that either. I am who I am and what I do in this world is, most likely, totally different from your roll in life and that’s a good thing. But what is there when this life is over? In God’s Word we find warnings and hope about life after death. Some will say there is no life after death and I’ll be the first in line to defend your right to think that way, because God has given each and every one of us that right. I am made in the likeness of God (Genesis 1:26) therefore I am a spiritual being living in a physical body. Life is dangerous. Illness and accident can end our life at any given moment. We all want to live to a good old age and even then we’re not ready or willing to give into death. Why? Because you haven’t prepared your spirit by learning of God and you’re not ready to return to your home of origin. If you’re afraid of death, you’re not ready to meet the creator. Well, I don’t want it to seem like I’m beating you up. All I really want to say is, if life seems like an endless war maybe you’re fighting on the wrong front. The Bible tells us that sin and strife destroys a good life. There is no reward on this earth for finishing a good life besides having your name set in stone. Our Heavenly Father promises eternal life to those who love and obey Him. Are you running a race to the graveyard to be alone, or to heaven, to be with God forever?