Saturday, August 22, 2015

Blessed with Salt and Light

I’ve been promising myself a new wallet for over a year and of course the only time I think about it is when I pull it out to pay for something. Oh nuts! Well, too late this time. I’ll get it next time - Yeh, right. It just so happened I finally wrote it down on a sticky note and stuck it in my pocket. I do that for the shear agitation, whence after a while the note in my pocket produces action on my part, fulfilling the request, enabling the disposal of the note. It worked, although I had been to the store twice before I remembered to take the note out of my pocket and be bothered to read my reminder to myself. Now shopping is not one of my favorite things to do. Give me a list and I’ll fill it toot-sweet, but standing in the isle waiting for a decision as my lovely wife ponders over the far too many brands of the same thing is not my cup of tea. I have over the years come to the understanding this is a lesson straight from God and my patience has grown, but I still don’t like it. Anyway, I found myself giggling when I discovered I was mirroring my wife’s shopping habits trying to decide on the most logical purchase to fit my needs. I’m glad she wasn’t with me, perhaps tempted to prod me. It probably wouldn’t have mattered anyway, for I know I’m not the only guy who stops to look at something in the store only to discover his wife can totally disappear in ten seconds.

I read the “Beatitudes for Senior’s” the other day and thought I might share them with you. * Blessed are they who understand my faltering steps and palsied hand. * Blessed are they who know my ears today must strain to catch the words they say. * Blessed are they who see my eyes are dim and my wits are slow. * Blessed are they who looked away when coffee was spilled on the table today. * Blessed are they with cheery smiles that stop to chat for a little while. * Blessed are they who never say, “You’ve told that story twice today.” * Blessed are they who know the ways to bring back yesterdays. * Blessed are they who make it known that I’m loved, respected and not alone. * Blessed are they who know I’m at a loss to find the strength to carry my cross. * Blessed are they who in loving ways ease the days on my journey home.

[Matthew 5:1-14] I’m expanding my horizons later this week. I and a few colleagues are going to Piedras Negras, Mexico to meet with the church there and preach God’s Word. The church here has a small interest in a grass-roots orphanage there and our trip is to meet and encourage the brothers and sisters in their work. Following Jesus’ teaching on the attitudes of life he said to his disciples, “You are the salt of the earth” and “You are the light of the world.” I never thought so deeply about the responsibilities of my beliefs before, but now that I have been invited to share them with those who are completely out of my comfort zone I think, “I’m not ready for this.” That brings to mind the record in Acts 10 when Cornelius sent for Peter to come to his house and explain the gospel and teach him and his household more clearly about Jesus. God had to convince Peter in a vision that this invitation was His will. The gospel had been presented to the Jew and now it was time to take it to the Gentile (Romans 1:16; 2:9-11). Jesus’ metaphor teaches us that we are the seasoning of the earth, a righteousness and pleasant flavor to the bitterness that is often found in the world, a presence that keeps that which is good, decent and honest from disappearing. I pray my light will shine and glorify my Father in heaven this week and the rest of my life.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Are You A Good Gardener?

Well, the afternoon heat hasn’t let up one bit; in fact the temperature seems to creep up ever so slightly each day. The trees are beginning to suffer in the heat and for the lack of rain, culminating in a stress that produces leaf shedding. My yard looks like the beginning of autumn with all the leaves on the ground and porch deck. I put out the water sprinkler a couple of evenings over the past week in an attempt to not lose my grass again, as was the case during our recent drought. Of course that makes the grass grow, so, this morning while drinking coffee I mustered up the want-to determination to mow it before it gets too hot. I opened the door to pull out the mower and it started raining! You’ve got to be kidding, right? No, it poured down rain for about 15 minutes. Talk about letting the air out of your balloon. Oh well, there’s always another day. Meanwhile, back at the ranch, we have the circus in house again this weekend, we’re dog sitting. It’s like we have an only child and her two cousins come to visit, one male and one female. They’ve been raised differently, all three have different personalities and have their ways of which some are hard to figure out. We’re not used to a nasty boy who likes to hike his leg up on everything, but he’s learning what’s permissible, where and when. The three of them get along well, even around the food bowl, with the older female teaching the youngsters with an occasional growl and snap of the jaw.

There is a lovely villa on the shores of beautiful Lake Como in the Italian Alps. While sight-seeing the area, some tourists complimented an old gardener who had been maintaining a certain grounds for years. “The owner must come here frequently,” one man said as he looked out over the manicured lawns and flowering bushes. “No, no,” the gardener replied. “The owner has been here only once in 15 years, and even then, I didn’t see him at all.” “But how do you get your orders and pay?” the tourists inquired. “How do you know what to do?” “From the owner’s agent who lives in Milan,” the gardener replied. “Ah, he must go there often then?” “Not too often,” the gardener said. “Perhaps once a year or so.” The tourists were amazed. “You have no one to supervise your work, and the grounds are as neat as if you expect the owner to come back tomorrow,” exclaimed one lady, so impressed with the beauty of the grounds. The old gardener firmly replied, “Today, ma’am! Not tomorrow, but today!”

[Luke 12: 35-48; Philippians 2: 12-16] The gardener was faithful to his trust, was he not? He wanted to be ready lest the owner arrive and catch him unprepared. So too, we want to live faithfully every day, as though the Lord Jesus might drop in for a visit. Would he find us a faithful steward? Would he say, “Well done, you good and faithful servant!”? (Matthew 25:14-30; Luke 19: 11-27) In John 15:1-2, Jesus says, “I am the vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.” Jesus explains that to remain fruitful we must be in Him and to be in Him we must be in God’s Word (John 1:14), because, “…apart from me you can do nothing.” (v.5) The Father is the gardener of the Kingdom, the church. As individuals, we are the gardener of our own lives keeping the weeds (sins) of the world out and maintaining a good healthy lifestyle, living in Christ (on the vine); pruned (corrected) by God now and then; fruitful (saving souls); and glorifying God. Are your grounds manicured well?

Saturday, August 08, 2015

Plugged Into His Power

Boy is it ever hot out! (Okay, all together now), “How hot is it?” * It’s so hot out I saw a dog chasing a cat and they were both walking. * It’s so hot out that people are sticking to the street in the crosswalk. * I think I saw a roasted turkey fly by. * It’s so hot out I heard two trees fighting over a dog and the fire hydrant on the corner has been whistling all day trying to get the attention of any dog. * It’s so hot out McDonald’s is frying burgers on the hoods of cars waiting in line. * It’s so hot out the catfish are ready to eat right out of the water. * It’s so hot out the beach sand is turning to glass. * It’s so hot out the cows are giving evaporated milk. * It’s so hot out it’s reported a cornfield popped. * Johnny Carson once said, “It’s so hot out I saw a robin dipping his worm in Nestea.” * All I can tell you is, “It’s so hot out my wife is finally warm!”

Somebody said, “It's so hot you could bake taters in the glove-box of yer car if-in ya wanted to” and that reminded me of a story I heard a long time ago. It’s titled, “Tater People” and goes like this. Some people are very bossy and like to tell other people what to do, but don’t want to soil their own hands. They’re called “Dick Taters”. Some never seem motivated to participate. They’re content to watch others do the work. They’re called “Speck Taters”. Some never do anything to help, but have no problem finding fault in the work being done. They’re called “Comment Taters”. Some are always looking to cause problems by asking others to agree with them. It’s too hot; it’s too cold; it’s too long; it’s too short; on and on. They’re called “Adja Taters”. Then there are people who promise to help, but somehow never get around to actually doing it. They’re called “Hezzie Taters”. Some people can put up a front and pretend to be someone they aren’t. They’re called “Emma Taters”. Then there are those who love others, love God and who will always do what they said they would do. They’re always prepared to stop whatever they’re doing to lend a helping hand. Their presence has a way of bringing sunshine into the lives of others and they’re affectionately called, “Sweet Taters”.

[Romans 1:16] During the super hot portions of summer we’re always asked to conserve electricity to avoid ‘brown outs’ and ‘roaming outages’. Electrical outages put us in a difficult position these days because so much of our life depends on that power. There are so many things we cannot accomplish without it. Like during a storm, although the power plant may still be functioning, if any problem occurs in the transmission lines there’s no power for us! Likewise, God is a constant source of power for our daily living, but if the ‘transmission lines’ get interrupted, we don’t get the benefits. God’s power is real, but some people want to limit God to only what they can see. He created everything without our help (Genesis 1-2; Colossians 1:16; Hebrews 11:3); Remember Jesus (Luke 8:46; 6:19). God’s power is supreme (Psalm 62:11). It can defeat death; man cannot (Ecclesiastes 8:8; Psalm 89:48); Jesus could (John 10:18); There is nothing He cannot do (Matthew 19:26). God’s power is available to all. We cannot defeat death, but when we connect with God, His power can and will save us from our sins (1 Corinthians 6:14); Free from the law of sin and death (Romans 8:1-2). We are called to be strong and in the power of His might (Ephesians 6:10). If we experience a power outage, it’s not because the source has stopped generating, it’s because something has interrupted the transmission. Are you plugged into God’s power for salvation today?

Saturday, August 01, 2015

Just Traveling On

It’s entirely possible you don’t travel as much as you used to. Perhaps, if you’re like me, you stick close to home. I simply don’t like crowds anymore and the cost of ‘having a good time’ just doesn’t fit my wallet so good sometimes. I’ve been here and there and drove a vehicle or two nearly half way across the country a couple of times and walked the Golden Gate Bridge where from the park across from San Francisco we watched the famous fog envelop all but the tippy top of the bridge towers, a fabulous sight. There are still a lot of places I’d like to visit one day and maybe I’ll live long enough to travel more. I read an essay a long time ago by a person, author unknown, who told of some places they had been and some they wished they had been. It goes like this: “I’ve been in many places, but I’ve never been in Cahoots. Apparently, you can’t go alone. You have to be in Cahoots with someone. I’ve never been in Cognito. I hear no one recognizes you there. I have, however, been in Sane. They don’t have an airport; you have to be driven there. I have personally made several trips there, thanks to my friends, family and workplace. I would like to go to Conclusions, but you have to jump; and I’m not too much into physical activity anymore. I have also been in Doubt. That is a sad place to go, and I try not to visit there too often. I’ve been in Flexible, but only when it was very important to stand firm. Sometimes I’m in Capable, and I go there more often as I’m getting older. One of my favorite places to be is in Suspense! It really gets the adrenalin flowing and pumps up the old heart. At my age I need all the stimuli I can get! I have never been in Continent, although I suspect I may go there someday when I’m a little older; who knows?

[Psalm 71:1-9; Luke 12:13-21] Two scientists were on a field trip in the mountains. They discovered what they felt was to be a deserted baby eagle in a nest on a jutting rock, just below the top of a dangerous cliff. They wanted to rescue it, so they asked the young son of their guide if they could lower him on a rope to fetch the little bird. The boy was not at all enthusiastic about their plan, so he declined. They offered him money; then doubled it, but still the boy refused. Finally, one of the scientist asked in despair, “Well then, how do you propose that we save the baby eagle?” The mountain boy replied, “I’d be glad to go down and rescue the baby bird for free if you’ll let my dad hold the rope.” The Bible indicates that we are all travelers and one day our spirit will return to the Father and the body will return to the ground (Genesis 3:19). Paul likens his travels through life to a race wherein he disciplines himself to be like Christ and righteous in the sight of God in everything he did (Acts 20:24; 1 Corinthians 9:19-27 & 2 Timothy 4:7-8). The preacher said, “…and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus…” (Hebrews 12:1-2) We are all traveling in a foreign land, ‘This world is not my home, I’m just a passin’ through…” and my spirit is restless here. We are all “On the Road to Forever” together. Do we believe God is ‘holding the rope’ in our lives? If you know the saving power of our Savior and the loving grace of our Father, then you know peace. Are you willing to ‘go out on a limb’ be ‘dropped over the edge’ so to speak, to rescue a sinful lost soul from this disheartening frightful world? It doesn’t matter what or how much you gain in this life. It’s all meaningless, if in the end, your life has “...not been rich toward God.”

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Feeling Inadequate?

The deeper I get into all the techno stuff available to play with, of which I know I’m only scratching the surface, I realize I’m getting more done at work, with more efficiency and with greater imaginative end products. Ready to use materials found within programs, on the inter-web and now in every app imaginable, can make simple day to day strugglers like me feel good about what they do every day. Used to be cut and paste was a real physical part of producing shared information. Apps were real news-stand magazines with which one used for current event research and would extract beautiful color pictures with a pair of scissors, or, if you could afford it, an Exacto knife. Then with some orange liquid glue from a bottle with a funny-looking red rubber applicator, some colored pencils and maybe one black clothing-marker pen, one would build their school project/report spending hours going through magazine after magazine to produce the best white cardboard presentation ever. At school my presentation never did look as good as it did at home. When I worked in the advertising department of a food market chain, cut and paste was a real thing. We used hot wax instead of glue whereupon changes could be readily made. Then the finished product was photographed for lithograph reproduction. Simply fascinating stuff in 1967. Today, with two hours of research on the inter-web one could nearly write a book complete with all the color bells and whistles to make any report pop. Save it, change it, add to it, subtract from it, move it around until its pleasing-to-the-eye; click, click, click; tap, tap, tap like magic your project gets printed within seconds or stored on a flash-drive for a power-point presentation. And I still don’t have enough time to get all the things done I want to accomplish in a day. I don’t guess we’ll ever be satisfied with our accomplishments. Bigger, better and faster is the order of the day, the 25 hour day.
A friend of mine was telling about his visit to his daughter’s home on a short vacation. One morning at the breakfast table he asked his son-in-law if he could borrow the morning newspaper. “This is the 21st century!” he exclaimed, “We don’t waste money on newspapers. Here, you can use my iPad.” With a sheepish smile and a little chuckle my friend said, “I can tell you one thing… that fly never new what hit it!”

Two cows were grazing in a pasture when they saw a milk-truck pass by. On the side of the truck were the words… ‘Pasteurized; Homogenized; Standardized; Vitamin “A” Added’. One cow sighed and said to the other, “Kind of makes you feel inadequate.”
[Psalms 119:105; Proverbs 24:3-6; James 1:2-8] The 21st century and life in general has dropped many a humbling circumstance into my life, as in yours. Even though I don’t like it, I find it has been good for me. We rest on our past experience and become complacent, prideful of what we have learned. But when we are in a situation for which we have no answer, our ignorance and inabilities humble us. We all need a lesson in humility once in a while. It drives us to seek the advice of others and to realize how much we need each other. It causes us to search the Word of God for answers. It leads us to pray to God for wisdom instead of trusting in ourselves. It leads us to trust in the providence of God. When you truly ‘let go and let God’ it will amaze you the work God does in your life. Circumstantial accidents your friends tell you. No not at all. It’s God moving in your life, because He doesn’t want you to feel inadequate