Saturday, October 18, 2014

Have Courage

My little Chihuahua is now one year old and a constant shadow. Compared to other pets I’ve had, she’s not the sharpest knife in the drawer, if you know what I mean. She has more toys than she knows what to do with and generally picks a toy of the day to bug me with by standing in front of me with it in her mouth and an ears up frisky look that says, “Play with me! Play with me!” I try to push everything to the back burner for a couple of minutes as often as possible to play tug-of-war or fetch until she calls time out. Well, lately I’ve found I must be careful what I’m doing around the house because I find Bella’s nose right there and I’m scared I’m going to hurt her. She’s not afraid of anything if I’m right there guessing she figures that it must be okay. She’s not afraid of the vacuum cleaner and worst of all, the lawn mower. I use this little grunting sound to warn her of danger and/or my disapproval and she reacts immediately, keeping her safe.

I can remember as a child going on road trips with my parents and siblings. When we would come to a big high bridge, looking out the window of the car would bring on a bit of anxious feelings I didn’t know how to deal with, but were calmed by the fact that everything must be okay because dad was driving. I also remember that as I got older those scary pass-over’s became beautiful panoramic views offering awesome insights into the creation that God has given us and the beauty which it holds. But not all people are that way. Every day, it seems, at the Chesapeake Bay Bridge in the state of Maryland, there are motorists who arrive at that point and will not drive across. They, like some of us when we were children, want to lock their doors, close their eyes and hide in the trunk while trying to drive across the frightening bridge. Maryland’s Transportation Authority has police officers on duty as surrogate drivers for those who freeze at the wheel or there is a tow service to help those in need. They average five vehicles a day. Bridges like Michigan’s Mackinaw Bridge offer a similar service.

[Philippians 4:4-9; 2 Timothy 1:7] Isn’t it amazing? We all have our fears. For some it’s bridges or flying or crowds. Today it’s Ebola and terrorism; tomorrow who knows? What do you do with your fears? “…Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7). According to Wikipedia, Telemachus (also Almachus or Tilemahos), described as being an ascetic (monk) in the writings of Theodoret, came to Rome from the East. He tried to stop a gladiatorial fight in a Roman amphitheatre and was stoned to death by the crowd. The Christian Emperor Honorius, however, was impressed by the monk’s martyrdom and it spurred him to issue a historic ban on gladiatorial fights. The last known fight in Rome was on January 1, 404 AD. Considering our fears of injustice, indifference and immorality, we need the spirit of courage exemplified by Telemachus to be alive in Christians today as we struggle against deeply entrenched evils of the world. The Lord’s church is a fellowship of courageous souls banded together to grapple with wickedness and all unrighteousness. “…God did not given us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and self-discipline”(2 Timothy 1:7). Only by being courageous can we swim against the world’s current and move in the direction of God. Repent and seek His kingdom.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Just a Couple of Croakers

It’s been said that we only have two seasons in South Texas, hot and cold, and that can come with or without rain or snow in any month, except August which is always HOT. About the only true barometer of what season it is, summer or winter, is the day-light hours which are significantly different. Another indicator is the presence of migrating birds in the neighborhood; by the hundreds! The noise they produce can be almost deafening at times and still scares my poor little Chihuahua. Today was one of those transition days from Summer into Fall. A cold front sailed through bringing a little wind, rain and lower temperature, for about three hours. Now it’s summer again, except it will be dark out by seven-thirty this evening. Just another day in paradise.
I’m generally out and about before six-thirty each morning, and because my wife doesn’t do coffee, I frequent a cafĂ© for a cup or two and a taco with a friend, and to also talk about stuff. Some would call it gossip, but men don’t gossip, we exchange important information and work on solving the problems of the world. Some have asked me in the past why I don’t make my wife fix me coffee in the morning. I can relate that to a story I heard back in the eighties when self help books were in fashion. It seems a man had just finished reading a new book entitled, “You Can Be the Man of Your Own House”. He stormed into the kitchen and announced to his wife, “You need to know that from now on I’m the man of this house and my word is law!” After a short silent pause he continued, “You’ll prepare and serve me a gourmet meal tonight topped off with a sumptuous dessert. After dinner you’re going to draw me a bath so I can relax. You’ll wash my back, towel me dry and bring me my robe. Then you’ll massage my feet and hands. And tomorrow, guess who’s going to dress me and comb my hair?” His wife didn’t even hesitate before saying, “The funeral director would be my first guess.” No sir, I don’t need to be boss of my wife, if you know what I mean.
[Psalm 73] A man who had just purchased his first house in the country traveled to the nearby rural town and asked the owner of the restaurant there if he could use a million frog legs. The proprietor asked where he could find so many frogs. “I’ve got a pond on my new property that’s full of them” the new resident replied, “they drive me crazy day and night.” After they made an agreement for several hundred frogs, the gentleman farmer went back home. A week later he returned to the restaurant with two scrawny frogs in hand and a sheepish grin on his face. “I guess I was wrong” he stammered, “there were just two frogs in the pond, but they sure were making a lot of noise!” The world today sure is making a lot of noise and on the forefront of it all is war and pestilence. It’s a shame to hear that more and more people are becoming loud complain-ers and gossiping blame-ers rather than pray-ers looking to God for strength to endure and overcome the vile of the world. “…each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor… “In your anger do not sin”; Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold” (Ephesians 4: 25-27). The next time you hear a lot of noise about how bad things are, remember, God is still on the throne and His power is far beyond our comprehension (Job 37:1-13). The noise you hear may be nothing more than a couple of chronic complainers who have little more to do than sit around like a couple of scrawny frogs croaking their time away.

Saturday, October 04, 2014

Would You Eat It?

So you say there are no jobs out there? Do you think of yourself as a rather good salesperson? I’ll let you in on the opportunity of a lifetime, perfect for any qualified entrepreneur. Do you know what a Myocastor coypu is? It’s an animal that looks like a beaver without the flat tail. In fact it has a rat tail and is commonly known as a nutria, or river rat, or muskrat, among other names. They were introduced to this part of the world for their fur, and the fact they are herbivores’, used for grass and plant control around waterways. Their fur is still sought after and valued, but the little critters are out of control when it comes to being environmentally friendly. In Louisiana the nutria is eating the plant life and destroying the wetlands by the hundreds of acres every year. In the state of Louisiana there is a move to convince people to hunt, kill, and then eat them. Now the hunting and killing I can understand, but it’s going to take a pretty good salesperson to get people to eating rats. So, here’s your opportunity to make a fortune in the Myocastoridae Bar-B-Que business. Invent your own sauce and you’re in!

There are a lot of things in this world that we can take opportunity of and there are a lot of things in this world we wish we had never known of. Two little teardrops were floating down the stream of life. One teardrop asked the other, “Who are you?” “I’m a teardrop from a girl who loved a man and lost him. And, who are you?” The first teardrop replied, “I’m a teardrop from the girl who got him!” Life is like that. We cry over the things we cannot have, but we might cry twice as much if we received them. Buddy Post of Oil City, Pennsylvania won the lottery in the amount of $16.2 million. Set for life, right? From that day, his world collapsed. He found himself caught up in a preposterous law suite, arrested for assault, his own brother was convicted of plotting to kill him and his wife left him. His winnings were lost in court battles with his ex-wife and the state of Pennsylvania. Buddy would have been much better off if he had never won the lottery. If I ever win the lottery, I’m running away from home.

[1 John] “…Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For everything in the world – the cravings of sinful man, the lust of the eyes and the boasting of what he has and does – comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever…” (1 John 2:15-17). In your travels, would you pull into a Myocastoridae Bar-B-Que place of business for some delectable rat meat? Probably not, because now you know what it is. Yuk! What if it was served with the best Bar-B-Que sauce in the world on it; would you eat it then? Did you know, spiritually, we are what we eat? It would do well for each of us to ask what kind of spiritual diet we are on. It may in fact be rat meat and making us sick. What we see and what we hear goes into our heart and adds light or darkness to our souls. We have all seen the notice on some movies or books, “for adults only” or “adult content”. In reality, those items should be marked as “poisonous to the mind!” “…whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.” (Philippians 4:8). This will make a difference on how we look at and feel about the world. Over 25 times John writes that we can know God and the eternal life that awaits us.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

If

I received a phone call one day last week from a fellow identifying himself as the prize van driver for Publishers Clearing House and that I had won second place in a drawing. My prize consisted of $350 million and a new Mercedes Benz convertible. The first thing that ran through my mind was, “Wow! I wonder what first place won.” A millisecond later my logical side pulled in on the reins of my foolish excitement to explain the ridiculousness of what I had just heard. The scammer told me to get a piece of paper to write down a name and number of his boss to confirm who I was before the prize could be delivered. I knew better but found myself actually looking for something to write on. This guy must have caught me at a weak moment because I had already hung up on him three times and I generally never spend more than four seconds on the phone with sales cons. Well, he called back two more times wanting to know why I hadn’t called to confirm my identity. I humored him with some excuses. He told me he was waiting right down the street and that the sun was beating down on the van and it was getting very hot so I should hurry for his sake. The sun was not shining neither was it hot out, so I laughed and hung up on him again. “If I had a hammer, I’d…”
“If” is a big word and the world would be a totally different place if “if” would be actively and appropriately applied. *If you plant honesty, you will reap trust. *If you plant goodness, you will reap friends. *If you plant humility, you will reap greatness. *If you plant perseverance, you will reap contentment. *If you plant consideration, you will reap perspective. *If you plant hard work, you will reap success. *If you plant forgiveness, you will reap reconciliation. So, be careful what you plant early in life for it will determine what you reap later. Always be careful of what you plant. Remember, what goes around comes around. Do what is right and you’ll never be wrong.
[Genesis 4:6-7] “If” can be rewarding and at the same time very restrictive. “If” can look good on the surface and wrong in practice. “If only we had better equipment” was the request, and in the early 70’s the firefighters of Fairfax County, Virginia received new helmets. They were sharp looking, colorful, size adjustable, made of high-impact plastic and scuff resistant. There was only one problem with the helmets; when they were worn near the heat of a fire, they melted. This, of course, made the helmets useless to the firefighters. They needed helmets that could take the heat. In the same way, we need a faith that can take the heat; a faith that endures the fires of temptation and protects us in the midst of the blazes of sin. If Christ were to stand before you right now and said, “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned” (Mark 16:16), what would you do? If the Lord will save us without baptism, why did Peter command it? (Acts 10: 23-48) If sprinkling and pouring are scriptural baptism, why did Paul say there is only one baptism? (Romans 6:1-6; Colossians 2:11-12) If we can receive forgiveness of sins without baptism, why did Peter say baptism is for the forgiveness of sins? (Acts 2:38) If we get into Christ without baptism, why did Paul say we are baptized into Christ? (Galatians 3:27; Romans 6:3) If we get into the body of Christ without baptism, why did Paul say we are baptized into the body? (1 Corinthians 12:13) The body and the church are the same. (Colossians 1:18) “If you love me, you will obey what I command” (John 14:15) Do you truly love and obey Jesus?

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Slowly Eaten Away

A published article reported that a young man who once found a $5 bill on the street resolved that from then on he would keep his eyes on the ground while walking. The article went on to say that over the years this man had accumulated, among other things, 29,516 buttons, 54,172 pins, 12 cents, a bent back and a miserly disposition. But he had lost some things also, including the glory of the sunlight warming his face, the radiance of the stars twinkling in his eyes, the smiles of want-to-be friends and the fresh air of clear blue skies. It amazes me the priorities people assign their focus, as to what is note-worthy national and world news, needing to be shared each day of the week. It seems what goes on across the back-yard fence of the typical neighborhood is of nobodies business, that is unless they are a public servant of some kind, or a high profile sports figure, or the CEO of a large company. Then everybody wants to get on the bandwagon to crucify whomever they think is in the wrong. Society of today is becoming like that of a major league baseball pitcher who plugs his ears with cotton to cut out all the distractions that might be coming from unruly fans in the bleachers. Don’t get me wrong here. It thrills me that people take a stand against thoughtless law-breakers who profit from their lawlessness, or who think they are better than the law and untouchable. But these problems of behavior started in the home many years before their ultimate decent from fame. What I’m saying is, our focus on life has to extend beyond our personal interests looking up and taking the cotton out of our ears, at least once in a while, to give attention to fathering and mothering our self-centered children with some basic moral and ethical ideals of honesty and fair gain. Folks, there are things going on in the world that deserve a lot more of our attention. There are things happening in the world today that should make you very afraid about the future of our very existence as a nation free of terror and pestilence. It all starts at home.

[2 Timothy 3:1-9; 3:10-17] A lady from the city was visiting members of her family who owned a farm. As she talked with the farmer, she noticed a pig in the back yard with a wooden leg. “What happened to that pig?” the woman asked. “Oh, that’s Betsy” the farmer said. “She’s a fine pig! One night while we were all asleep the house caught fire. Betsy started snorting and grunting waking us all up. We were able to call the fire department and save the house!” “Wow! That’s amazing!” exclaimed the woman. “Not only that” continued the farmer, “but one day my daughter fell into the pond and Betsy came gruntin’ and snortin’ and led me to the pond where I was able to pull her out. Betsy saved my daughter’s life!” The lady was impressed, also curious, “But that still doesn’t explain the wooden leg.” “Well” the farmer replied, “When you have a pig like that, you don’t eat it all at once.” The moral and ethical decay of our society today is eating away at the very fabric of this country’s Christian garb. The first public school book of knowledge was the Bible. Today it’s illegal to shelve the Bible in our school libraries yet every other worldly religious organization has a reserved space in the card catalog. The do-gooders of this country have successfully performed a God-fearing lobotomy on our most recent generations and we are now being led around by a crippled government. God is still in the hearts of most Americans, but if we keep allowing the mutilation of His Word, before long there will be nothing left. Doom!