Saturday, January 30, 2016

A Competitive Life

Time has a way of slip-slipping away and in the light of Super Bowl 50 I found myself cruising a nostalgic highway of daydreams a few times of late. Hindsight, being the exact science that it is, always leads to the thought, “If I had only known then what I know now” and the imagery of all the passed-up opportunities that had drifted in and out of my life. In 1957, ten years post WW II, man had not yet been to the moon, that wouldn’t take its place in history until 1969, but the space race started that year with the Russian launch of Sputnik, the first satellite to orbit the earth. I remember the fear and uncertainty of this new technology prevalent in the hearts of people. One only needs to remember this was happening in the shadow of nuclear weapon anxiety and the Cold War. Eisenhower was starting his second term as President of the United States. The first Boeing 707 flight took place. First Class postage was .03 cents. The Ford Motor company introduced the Edsel automobile, which flopped miserably, and after a two year run was discarded. Civil Rights issues exploded in Arkansas and integration of schools was enforced by the government and armed Army Reserve troops. John Lennon and Paul McCartney met for the first time (no Beatles yet). Elvis Presley was HOT in the theaters and on the radio, and buys Graceland for his mama. The Hamilton watch company introduced the first electric watch. Ten years later I graduated from high school and was drafted into Uncle Sam’s service two years after.
I have never been a real sports fan. I certainly wasn’t a jock in school, skinny as a rail and weighing less than a sack of potatoes. The closest I’ve come to being a fan-addict is following the auto racing scene. In most sporting activities it takes a team of individuals to accomplish the goal set forth by the competition of the sport. I think I liked auto racing over most team sports because performance dictates rewards. Perform poorly and go home with little or nothing. Perform at the pentacle of excellence, out performing all the competition and one goes home with the top prize and bragging rights. I’ve really become disinterested in professional sports over the past ten years for the mere fact that too many participants are being paid way too much money for poor performance. Money is even putting to ruin the Olympic Games and College sports, of which both are suppose to be reserved for amateurs who just love the game. Oh well.

[1 Corinthians 9: 24-27] “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.” The church has always intrigued me as writers like Paul encourage Christians to train for the competitiveness of life, but to never be in competition with one another. Too many people in this world see the church as a competitive social entity, when in truth, it is a spiritual kingdom filled with spiritually like-minded physical humans in a race to see how many people they each can take across the finish line with them. Crazy, isn’t it? Our faith and obedience in Jesus as our coach in this life will bring the reward of everlasting life with God in the true spiritual world after leaving this body. The stands of heaven are full of all the faithful souls who have gone on before us, cheering us on (Hebrews 11:39-40) so they may also receive that same reward. Remember, when you “go to church” Sunday, it’s really a huddle of the players (Christians) listening intently to the instructions of Jesus as he coaches us in the game of life. Resist the devil. At times the play is – RUN!

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Are You Insured?

To insure the masses from being mistreated or disrespected, our elected officials throughout the country, from the lowest to the highest levels of government, are constantly writing laws and ordinances in an attempt to protect us from one another. I believe all this legislation has brought about more ridiculous accusations toward one another, filled our courts system with more frivolous lawsuits than ever before and has backed more people into a corner with no option but to surrender. The American dream is on the lamb with legislators and lawyers chasing after it to lock it up and shut it down. The one world order plan being played out right now will bankrupt freedom as you know it today. The battle front is in the voting booth, not social media. Use it!

After a long illness, a woman died and arrived at the Gates of Heaven. While she was waiting for someone to greet her, she peeked through the gates. There she saw a beautiful banquet table. Sitting around the table were her parents and all the other people who she had known and loved, and died before her. They saw her and began calling greetings to her, “Hello! How are you!” “We’ve been waiting for you!” “Good to see you!” When Peter came by the woman said to him, “This is such a beautiful place! How do I get in?” Peter said, “You have to spell a word.” She asked, “What’s the word?” Peter said, “Love” She replied, “L-O-V-E!” Peter opened the gates and welcomed her in. Some time later Peter asked the woman to watch the gates for him as he had some business to tend to. While she was guarding the gate her husband arrived. “I’m surprised to see you,” she said. “How have you been?” “Oh, I’ve been doin pretty well since you died,” the husband said. “I married the beautiful young nurse who took care of you while you were ill. And then I won the lottery. I sold the little house you and I lived in and bought a big mansion. And my wife and I have been traveling all around the world. I was water skiing in the Mediterranean today. I fell, a ski hit me in the head, and here I am. How do I get in?” She grinned and said, you have to spell a word.” “Is that all?” he asked. “What’s the word?” “…Czechoslovakia

[Romans 4:7-8] “Blessed are they whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord will never count against him”. Laws and ordinances may protect us from one another, but we also purchase insurance to cover us in times of disaster, poor health and even in death. Of all the possessions to insure, and disasters to insure against, the greatest catastrophe is to have no provision relative to eternal life. Some things we guard against in this life may never happen. However, the fact this life will have its end is something we cannot avoid and therefore need to be prepared. For that we need the coverage only God can provide. There is an “Eternal Life Insurance” policy already paid for by our Lord, but we must be in Him in order to receive the benefits. Are you covered? “…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” (Romans 6:3-14). “…for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ” (Galatians 3:27). Albert Camus said, “I’d rather live my life as if there is a God and die to find out there isn’t, than live my life as if there isn’t, and die to find out there is.”

Saturday, January 02, 2016

Close and Latch The Gate

Well, 2015 is behind us and we’ll never pass that way again. The first thing I learned when moving to Texas was, “If the gate is open, leave it open. If the gate is closed, close it behind you.” If it is in any way possible, it’s time to close and latch the gate on whatever negative menial trash that might have been in your life last year. Don’t let it get out and into the new year to spoil it. 2016 is the beginning of a new adventure since we’ve never been this way before. Life’s experiences should take center stage in a positive way, not to worry over or be troublesome. Mistakes are something we don’t have to beat ourselves up for the rest of our life. Let it go, stand up proud and move on.

I came across some old church bulletins the other day and I so enjoy the thoughts of those who have now gone on to be with the Lord. I especially take comfort in the fact they were not so different than I am today. I would like to share an article printed on March 9, 1975, no author found, most fitting and appropriate for our thoughts today.

“Freedom From Care” “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 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 4:4-7). The words of this command are neither hard nor exacting, but come to us as if the Father had put his loving arm about us and pulled us up close to him and bidden us, like little children, to forget our cares and leave everything to him as he tries to help us worrying pilgrims along. They are precious and comforting words, but hard to obey. Yet those few who we have known, who walked by this rule, always appear to be happy. “Do not be anxious;” it seems to be impossible! The text does not mean that we are not to be industrious and fore-thoughtful. This same apostle also said, “…If a man will not work, he shall not eat” (2 Thessalonians 3:10). The thing He seeks to deliver man from is the worry and over-solicitude of world affairs with which they struggle, trying to be their own providence, wearing themselves out in anxieties of future events which they cannot remedy or control, if indeed they are ever to happen. “...present your requests to God” He did not create this world and all things therein and go far away and forsake it until time shall be no more, “For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer” (Psalm 34:12-16; 1Peter 3:12), and as surely as there is a God in heaven, he wants his children to be happy, untroubled and unafraid. Sometimes we would give everything to attain this ideal. Perhaps it is not so difficult if we would really try. The great essential is a real trusting faith in God. The avenue is through prayer and supplication with thanksgiving. Prayer is the great lever of spiritual life; the lung by which it breathes. If we pray with thankful hearts, half of our troubles will disappear. He has not promised us miracles nor that every request shall be granted, but his loving watch, care and “…the peace of God, which transcends all understanding” and “ God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:19). Many are the hearts that have found this peace by faith and obedience to His holy will. Many are the hearts that are weary this day, when in his blessed kingdom they might have rest (Psalm 62).” I pray your year be blessed above all in Christ Jesus.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

It's Time To Turn The Page

Well, my list of things to get accomplished before the end of the year seems to be growing, not getting smaller as the days are counting down in 2015. Last week, short as it was, I did get most everything in the office communicating with the new computer with its new operating system. There were a few hair-pulling hours of, “Why won’t this work?” along with hours of downloading and installing updates to get printers and the like to work right. I must be mellowing a little because through all the frustrations of last week I never threw anything or broke anything. I sort of feel real proud of myself even though I wanted to scream a few times. I think I’ve got most all the wrinkles ironed out and the new computer looks to be ready for work in the coming new year. Most years, many of us are looking forward to turning the page and starting a new chapter in life. My years are certainly flying by and the chapters are adding up, yet I’m happy to be as healthy as I am and busy in life as I am. I pray your new chapter in life is full of happiness, prosperity and good health. Get right with the Lord if your conscience is guiding you that way. Remember, it’s an election year. Get out and vote!

There’s a lot of traveling this time of year. A six-year-old boy announced in school that his grandmother was coming for a visit. When asked where his grandmother lived he replied, “She lives at the airport. When we want her to come for a visit we just go and get her. Then when we’re done having her visit we take her back to the airport.”

Ninety-five-year-old Mary found that shopping for Christmas had become too difficult, so she decided to send checks to everyone instead. On each card that would accompany the check she wrote, “Buy your own gift” and made sure she mailed them early. Only after the Christmas season was well over did she get around to clearing the clutter from her desk. Under a stack of papers she was horrified to discover all the gift checks which she evidently had forgotten to enclose with her cards of good will.

[Luke 6:38] Now that the gift giving season is over and time has come to figure out how to pay for it all, may I suggest seven gifts that don’t cost a cent and can be given all year long? 1. The Gift of Listening. But you must really listen. No interrupting, no daydreaming, no planning your response. Just listen. 2. The Gift of Affection. Be generous with appropriate hugs, kisses, pats on the back and hand-holds. Let these small actions demonstrate the love you have for family and friends. 3. The Gift of Laughter. Clip cartoons. Share articles and funny stories. Your gift will say, “I love to laugh with you.” 4. The Gift of Written Notes. It can be a simple, “Thanks for the Help” note or a full sonnet. A brief hand-written note may be remembered for a lifetime, and may even change a life. 5. The Gift of Compliment. A simple and sincere, “you look great in red;” or, “you did a super job,” or, “that was a wonderful meal” can make someone’s day. 6. The Gift of Favor. Every day go out of your way to do something kind. 7. The Gift of a Cheerful Disposition. The easiest way to feel good is to extend a kind word to someone. Really, it’s not that hard to say, “Hello” or “Thank-You”. I’m not so good at a lot of this, but what a way to get the new year started and grow in our Christian maturity. “Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” Happy New Year, Y’all

Saturday, December 19, 2015

My Hero That Night

I walked into my office last Friday morning and it looked like a train wreck. For two days before I had been earnestly working on setting up a new computer and needless to say, not everything was cooperating. The operating systems are different between my old and new computers, which has a tendency to create conflict while trying to move data from one to the other. It feels like pushing a truck with four flat tires up a hill. It can become totally frustrating at times and when I can’t figure out the problem then it’s time to spend an hour on the phone with a program tech to get their product up and running again. The best part about that process today is the fact that one can turn the control of the computer over to the tech to allow them to do their magic in short order. The mouse arrow is scooting all over the screen and windows are flipping open and closed at break-neck speed - wham, bam - it’s working again. I thanked the young lady for her help and wish I could kiss her for bailing me out. Then I sat back and sighed with relief, another upgrade is installed; now to learn how to use it. Why go through all the trouble when the old computer is working just fine you ask? Updates have come to a halt because the processor in my antique tower is too slow for the newer operating systems and any upgrades for most programs. Technology has once again advanced to the point where I must catch up, or wave bye-bye to the world of 1’s & 2’s.

This year social media is full of the thought that Christ needs to be put back into Christmas. Here are some thoughts as to why Jesus is better than Santa. Santa lives at the North Pole > Jesus is everywhere. Santa comes by once a year > Jesus is an ever present help. Santa fills our stockings with goodies > Jesus supplies all our needs. Santa comes down our chimney uninvited > Jesus stands at the door and knocks, waiting to enter your heart. You have to wait in line to see Santa > Jesus is as close as the mention of his name. Santa lets you sit on his lap > Jesus lets you rest in his arms. Santa doesn’t even know your name > Jesus knew your name before you were born. He even knows how many hairs are on your head. Santa has a belly like a bowl full of jelly > Jesus has a heart full of love and compassion. All Santa can offer is Ho-Ho-Ho > Jesus offers Health, Help and Hope. Santa says, “You better not cry…” > Jesus says, “Cast all your cares on me and I will give you rest.” Santa’s little helpers make toys > Jesus makes life anew; mends wounded hearts; repairs broken homes; and builds mansions. Santa gives you a chuckle > Jesus gives you joy! – That is your strength. While Santa puts gifts under your tree > Jesus became our gift, and died on the tree.

[Luke 2: 1-7] It’s obvious there is really no comparison between Santa and Jesus. We need to remember WHO Christmas is all about. We need to put Christ back into Christmas; Jesus is still the reason for the season. Joseph was a righteous man (Matthew 1:19) so trusted in God, but I can’t help thinking he must have felt like he had been thrown under the bus when he escorted Mary into that stinky animal corral the night of Jesus’ birth. Pregnant and ready to deliver, poor Mary probably couldn’t travel very fast and by the time they arrived in Bethlehem, any reservation Joseph had made for their stay was long given away to other travelers – there was no room. Joseph is my hero of the night, trusting in God and making do with what he had to work with. In awe, he witnessed God at work. I pray to do the same one day, in heaven above.