Sunday, May 22, 2016

God-Fearing Silence

   Well, we certainly can’t complain about the dry weather for a while to come. This has been one of the wettest spring seasons I can recall for some time. We’ve had some pretty scary weather blow through the past couple of weeks. One night last week, about one in the morning, I awoke to lightning so constant it appeared to be daylight at times, and the thunder accompanying it was like the roar of an angry grizzly. As I stood in the open doorway of my house the wind became ever increasing as the storm came closer. I had the weather radar on my phone where I could clearly see the worst of the storm was just north of the city headed east and I could tell it was very violent. I stood there in prayer for those experiencing the storm and also prayed there wasn’t large hail, which the area had been pelted with a lot lately or worse yet, a tornado imbedded in the storm. Then, of course, the wind and rain forced me to close the door and at the same time the lights went out. The rain was blowing sideways hitting the side of the house, and fearing hail and broken glass and such, I made my wife get out of bed and get dressed. The storm did pass without too much damage except for a lot of downed trees and electrical power outages. I could see in the dark, limbs from my two pecan trees on the ground but the daylight reveled the whole side yard was covered with debris from my trees and trash from half the neighborhood piled up against my yard fence. I’m still cleaning up knowing it could have been worse as I see others with a bigger mess to clean up than mine. I still don’t like those night-time storms, I suppose because it instills fear of the unknown not being able to see what’s coming over the horizon. I thank God there was no tornado. I guess I should report, at the time of this writing, my wife is about to die for she’s been without internet wifi at home for two days. So sad.

Fear can be a healthy thing as it tends to heighten our awareness and prepares us for action. Lord knows, there are plenty of scary things out there to worry about and most of them we can’t do a thing about. Calvin Coolidge once said, “If you see ten troubles coming down the road, you can be sure that nine will run into the ditch before they reach you.” You say, sure but what about: Dirty bombs, Global warming, Disease, Terrorist attacks, Earthquakes, Ozone depletion, Shifting of the magnetic poles and Population out-growing food sources and on and on. Let’s get down to earth here and work with those things we can change and/or prevent. Despair and hopelessness has led mankind down the road of false happiness through drugs, alcohol, perverted sexual activity and a myriad of other self-indulging temporary satisfactions that all come with potentially harmful consequences. Mankind is becoming very evil and selfish.

[2 Corinthians 5:10-11; Hebrews 10:26-31] “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline” (Proverbs 1:7). We are living in a “God-fearing” country that no longer fears God. Even the majority of our citizens, who label themselves “God-fearing”, cannot be heard over the less than ten percent voice that’s re-writing the laws of the land dragging everyone into a pit of debauchery. Fear of revenge or punishment is searing the conscience of the God-fearing citizenry of this great republic. God’s will for man, the foundation of our republic, once known and loved by its leaders and law-makers, is being dismantled, cloaked in the lie of equality. “It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God”, for vengeance is His.   TOM

Saturday, May 14, 2016

BOB CHRISTIAN


A little old Jewish lady is flying out of New York City on her way to Miami Beach. She looks at the businessman sitting next to her and asks him, “Excuse me sir, but are you Jewish?” The man responds politely, “No, ma’am, I’m not Jewish.” After a little while, she again asks him. “You’re really Jewish, aren’t you?” Again he responds, “No, ma’am, I am not Jewish.” Barely 10 minutes later, the little old lady asks him once more, “Are you sure you’re not Jewish?” Finally, in exasperation and in a final effort to shut her up, he replies, “OK. Yes, ma’am, I am Jewish." “Funny,” she says, looking puzzled. “You don’t look Jewish!” That makes me wonder; If anyone approached me and asked me, “Are you a Christian?” and I answered, “Yes”, would they be inclined to say, “Funny, you don’t look like a Christian?” How embarrassing.

In his book, "The Kingdom Agenda," Tony Evans tells the story about a man who was mystified at what he saw painted on a rural barn. There were twenty painted targets. Each one had only one bullet hole in it, each perfectly centered in the bull's-eye. Whoever had been using the barn for target practice was definitely an outstanding marksman. Seeking out the barns owner, he asked: “Who in the world did the shooting on the side of your barn?" "Oh, that was me!” “Where did you learn to shoot that well?" “It was easy, I shot first, and then I drew the target around the bullet hole!” Mr. Evans’ point: “In today's culture, we do everything we can to give the impression that our lives are on target when in reality all we have done is learn to paint bull's-eyes.”

[Psalm 119:89-96] The Diary of a Bible - January: A busy time for me. Most of the family decided to read me through this year. They kept me busy for the first two weeks, but they have forgotten me now. February: Clean-up time. I was dusted yesterday and put back in my place. My owner did use me for a few minutes last week. He had been in an argument and was looking up some references to prove he was right. March: Had a busy day first of the month. My owner was elected president of the PTA and used me to prepare for a speech. April: Grandpa visited us this month. He kept me on his lap for an hour reading 1 Cor. 13. He seems to think more of me than do some people in my own household. May: I have a few green stains on my pages. Some spring flowers were pressed in my pages. June: I look like a scrapbook. They have stuffed me full of newspaper clippings- one of the girls was married. July: They put me in a suitcase today. I guess we are off on vacation. I wish I could stay home; I know I'll be closed up in this thing for at least two weeks. August: Still in the suitcase.  September: Back home at last and in my old familiar place. I have a lot of company. Two women's magazine's and four comic books are stacked on top of me. I wish I could be read as much as they are. October: They read me a little bit today. One of them is sick. Right now I am sitting in the center of the coffee table. I think that the Pastor is coming by for a visit. November: Back in my old place. Somebody asked today if I were a scrapbook. December: The family is busy getting ready for the holidays. I guess I'll be covered up under wrapping paper and packages again.... just as I am every Christmas. Question: Are we striving to conform to His Image? Or are we trying to form God in our own image? “…I will never forget your precepts, for by them you have preserved my life”(v.93). Baptized + Obedient + Believer = CHRISTIAN.

Saturday, May 07, 2016

A Mother's UnfailingLove


Our mothers get recognized once a year for their year-round selfless dedication to rearing a family. With a few senseless exceptions, mothers would give their life for their babies, protecting and nurturing them to the best of their abilities. My mother was blind in one eye from birth and had difficulties all her life seeing properly with the other eye. Yet she raised four children each of whom had no doubt she possessed eyes in the back of her head. I don’t suppose we could thank the mothers of the world enough for their endless hours of work dedicated to the education and comfort of her children. Mothers can express their wonderful love in so many ways, sometimes it can be scary. But we all know, generally, her bark is worse than her bite. She still loves me.

Who other than a mother knows what the world looks like at 2a.m., 3 a.m. and 4 a.m.? – And feels like she will never again get a full night’s sleep. Who other than a mother is able to carry a diaper bag, a stuffed animal, shopping bag, purse, baby and keys (all in one arm), while keeping the other hand available to unlock the car, open doors or hold the hand of another child? Who other than a mother can eat peanut butter and jelly for several days in a row, counts fruit snacks as a fruit and thinks McDonald’s (with a playground) is one of the best restaurants in town? Who other than a mother never goes to sleep at night until each child is checked on, covered up and kissed? Who other than a mother drives a car decorated with a car seat or two, empty juice boxes, fruit snack wrappers, a variety of toys and books and several stale french-fries? Who other than a mother can spend her afternoon playing a simple board-game, while watching a “Thomas the Train” video and reading aloud from the book “Go Dog, Go” knowing that it is time well spent? Who other than a mother can remember the exact moment her baby smiled for the first time, took their first step or finally said “ma-ma” after saying “da-da’ for months? Who other than a mother with endless chores of dishes, laundry and cleaning would stop in the middle of these tasks when she hears, “Mommy, will you play with me?” Who other than a mother will worry constantly and pray consistently for her children, and know that the most important thing that she can do for her children is to teach them that God loves them more than she ever could.

[Ephesians 6:2; Psalm 71] If you are a breathing somebody, you have been birthed; you have a mother. She has carried you inside her body while, as David wrote of his intimate relationship with God even before he was born, so perfectly stated, “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb” (Psalm 139:13). The job of all parents is to do their best to work themselves out of a job. To physically nurture a child to maturity takes some finesse that, I believe, can only come from a mother. Self-sustaining independence of a child comes from learning and observing the performances of both parents, but mothers instill that resonance of caring love that even the toughest macho dude tends to eke out when introduced to his first new-born. Yeh, tears of joy come from a loving mother. Moms have the toughest time turning loose of their babies, but I think it’s not near as hard when she has had a firm hand in their spiritual growth. No, she can’t save you or forgive your sins as does God, but she has the greatest opportunity to plant the Word of God in the heart of her children. I can testify to my mother’s unfailing love for me through my faith in my Lord and Savior.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Optimist or Pessimist?


I did go to see my sister last week, traveling safely between our recent bouts of severe weather, just missing a big hail storm on my way home. She’s declining in her thought to speech processing with apparent stuttering and repeating of words. Motor skills are beginning to wane, especially walking, which she loved to do, sharing long ones in the park with her dog, Walter. She’s having a hard time with the fact that nothing can be done to correct her health problem and although she appears to be ready spiritually, she been getting deeply emotional, as it seems to be taking forever to get her house in order. Many who love her are sharing much physical and spiritual support.

[Psalm 9:9-10; Hebrews 10:32-39; 1 John 5:1-5] (From Bulletin Digest 2/16) “When your cup runs over, is it a blessing, or a mess? Is your glass half full or half empty? Do you make difficulties out of your opportunities, or opportunities out of your difficulties? Are you the kind that complains about the noise when opportunity knocks? Do you claim to be an optimist who doubts that being one really helps? I was reading Psalm 23 this week, and it occurred to me that King David was a true optimist. “I am never in need...green pastures...peaceful waters...paths of righteousness...my cup overflows...even though I walk through the dark valley of death, because you are with me, I fear no harm...your rod and staff give me courage.” His faith in God enabled him to overcome obstacles that would derail our faith. His faith in God allowed him to see winning possibilities in horrible circumstances. Remember how he faced a lion, a bear, a giant, and a mentally unstable king? Remember how he faced the death of a child, and rebellion within his own family? His faith empowered him to live with optimism and assurance of victory. When faced with setbacks and difficulties, our reactions reveal whether we are people of faith and optimism, or people of pessimism and defeat. There are three basic differences in the way optimists and pessimists react. The first is that the optimist sees a setback as temporary, while the pessimist sees it as permanent. When David’s infant child died, he saw it only as a temporary separation. Even after praying and fasting that the child would not die, his faith in God never wavered. He could not bring the child back, but he said, “I will go to him” (2 Samuel 12:23). Even death is not permanent for those with faith in God. The second difference is that the optimist sees difficulties as specific, while the pessimist sees them as pervasive. David’s sin with Bathsheba was not allowed to destroy his whole life and eternity. He messed up big time, but he dealt with it as the specific sin it was, repented, and went on to live as a man with the heart of God. His failure with Bathsheba did not cause his whole life to be a failure. The third difference is that optimists view events as external, while pessimists interpret events as personal. King Saul’s repeated attempts to kill David was seen by David as rebellion against God, not him personally. He would not raise his hand against Saul because he still saw him as the Lord’s anointed. Difficulties are most often simply external circumstances, not personal attacks. Learn from David to live by faith and optimism. Look upon the inevitable setbacks that you face as being temporary, specific, and external.” I don’t know if I will have to spend days evaluating my life or whether the end will come quickly. I do know that my graduation day looms on the horizon and I pray to my last breathe I’m still learning of my God’s love for me.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Why Are You Afraid?


I’ve been wanting to go to Houston to visit my sister, but I don’t own a boat, so I guess I’ll just wait for the flood waters to go down; maybe Monday. A couple of things have been weighing on my mind of late. Of course my sister is steadily declining as her cancer ravages her brain and will soon end her life in this world. I can’t imagine having to cope with all the destruction throughout this country due to the recent crazy weather and unpredictable storms popping up out of nowhere. The earth has certainly been groaning lately with several major quakes in different parts of the world. But, I think what’s been troubling me the greatest lately is witnessing too many unexpected accidental deaths, wanton destruction of lives and willful death. The world is dealing with their problems in more and more self-destructive ways and departing this world much too soon. Nothing seems to be black or white, only gray and frail. It seems there’s no such thing as truth any longer. Today, truth is based on personal feelings, and legislated law has become a permission slip for immorality. It seems the answer to all our problems has become kill it or take another pill. This world is truly going to hell.

[John 16:5-16] Job's ten children were in the elder brother's house and a wind came and blew it away killing all of them (Job 1:18-19). Many people today can understand because they also have experienced the destruction of a great wind. I remind you of the storms on the sea during Jonah's time. This storm was the results of God's wrath, because Jonah was not obeying Him. There were the storms also on the Sea of Galilee when Jesus was in the boat with His disciples. (Mark 4:35-41) “…A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, ‘Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?’ He got up, rebuked the wind, and said to the waves, ‘Quiet! Be still!’ Then the wind died down and it was completely calm. He said to his disciples, ‘Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?’ They were terrified and asked each other, ‘Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!’” I remind you also of the storm when the disciples were in the boat and Jesus came walking on the water to them during the storm (Matthew 14:22-33). Jesus gave Peter permission to walk on the water. “…But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink cried out, ‘Lord save me!’ Immediately, Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. ‘You of little faith,’ he said, ‘why do you doubt?’” Are you sinking in the storms of life? Is your faith weak? Do you doubt? “…faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ” (Romans 10:17). Jesus promised to send another Counselor, the Spirit of truth, the Holy Spirit, to be with us forever (John 14:15-21). We receive this Spirit through baptism (Acts 2:38). Jesus taught Nicodemus (John 3:1-21) “…no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but Spirit gives birth to spirit” That Spirit is like the wind (v.8), we can’t see it but we can experience its effects. “…the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law” (Galatians 5:16-26). With the Spirit of God in control of your life, the storms of life cannot drag you down; because faith has you lifted higher than this life, out of this world, and preparing for eternity. Peace, be still.