Saturday, June 25, 2016

Needed: Leaders With Wisdom

Well, I finally have gotten over my illness which put me down for three weeks plus. It was just in time to go see my throat doctor for another post-surgical inspection on my vocal cords. A small spot was noticed a month ago and hoping beyond hope it would slough off and go away during the remaining healing process has not come to fruition. So, my doctor/surgeon asked me what I thought we ought to do about it. I’m not one to sit around waiting and watching when I know darn well what we have to do, so it’s back to surgery again July 5th. From the way everything looks at the moment this could be the last time and if this new laser has done its job well I may never have to return to the surgical theater again, at least not for my vocal cords. Recovery from the two surgeries this year with the new laser has brought about much improved healing and use of my voice, very surprising to everyone, and I only pray that I recover from this surgery with at least as good results as I have right now. I’ve never really worried about any of the eight surgeries I had on my vocal cords because right from the beginning I felt the Lord has supplied the right people to perform my surgeries and it seems He has performed healing that has enabled me to continue singing praises to His glory and teach his Word to a lost world. That’s kind of hard to do without a voice. Anyway, I expect the Lord to continue His work in me both physically and spiritually for I look forward to my continuing work in His name for many years to come. I do appreciate your prayers each and every time I go to surgery and I ask you for them again. Let God know you love me – it can’t hurt.

So anyway, here I am feeling really good for the first time in three months and I’ve got the lawn mowed and a few other household chores done, so I figure I’m going to treat myself with a present. There’s nothing like buying your-self something to make one feel even better - right? I went to Sears and bought me a new battery operated weed-eater and blower. I charged up the battery over night and put it to work the next day. I had no idea it would take so long to run down that battery, but it was a good workout. The next morning I got out of bed and my back muscles decided to punish me with a spasm that put me down for four days. My back has always given my problems since my teen years and it seems to always rear up its ugly head at the most inopportune times. Oh well!!

[Romans 1: 18-32; Job 28] I really don’t want to get off on a rant here, but I’m very confused when it comes to our leaders praying to “God” and quoting scripture from the Bible. For one thing, they are only doing it when it is convenient and opportune for them to be in the limelight to convince the nation they really care. In reality they are doing it to promote their causes and support their agenda. And, they certainly aren’t praying to the God of our forefathers; otherwise they would be confessing the sins of the people of this country and begging His forgiveness. If they did, maybe we wouldn’t be suffering the wrath God is initiating upon this land with floods and fire and inconceivable atrocities being acted out by disciples of Satan. The God of our forefathers and the God of the Bible, “…established the force of the wind; made a decree for the rain and a path for the thunderstorm; he looked at wisdom and appraised it; he confirmed it and tested it. And he said to man, ‘The fear of the Lord – that is wisdom, and to shun evil is understanding’.” I see the leaders of this nation sorely lacking in wisdom and the want-to-be leaders of tomorrow aren’t any better. Father, grant us leaders with backbone, and wisdom. Amen.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

So The Children Go

Our grandson became a father a few months ago and I sent him a text as soon as I heard the baby had been born, “Congratulations! Praying for you, Jamie and the baby. An amazing feeling isn’t it?” He text me back a picture (of course) of his newborn daughter and the reply, “Can’t even put it into words papa!!! I wanna scream in joy, cry, laugh, smile; never let her go!!!” I can’t help but think he will be a good, if not great father, because he has a good father who also had a good father. The idea of Father’s Day was conceived by Sonora Dodd of Spokane, Washington, while she listened to a Mother’s Day sermon in 1909. Dodd wanted a special day to honor her father, William Smart, a widowed Civil War veteran who was left to raise six children on a farm. A day in June was chosen for the first father’s Day celebration, because it was the month of William Smart’s birthday - June 19, 1910 - proclaimed by Spokane’s mayor. The first presidential proclamation honoring fathers was issued in 1966, when President Lyndon Johnson designated the third Sunday in June as Father’s Day and has been celebrated annually since 1972, when President Richard Nixon signed the public law that made it permanent.

[Proverbs 23:22-24; Hebrews 12:7-11] An article, “Fathers: Key to Their Children’s Faith” by Michael Craven published in The Christian Post, June 19, 2011, reflects an even greater truth today as to the downfall of society in general, the family, masculinity and male leadership as designed by God. The complete article is enlightening and in the stats of a study presented, the author concludes, “It is the religious practice of the father of the family that, above all, determines the future attendance at or absence from church of the children.” The study reports: (1) If both father and mother attend regularly, 33% of their children will end up as regular churchgoers, and 41% will end up attending irregularly. Only one quarter will end up not practicing at all. (2) If father is irregular and mother regular, only 3% of the children will subsequently become regular themselves. While a further 59% will become irregulars; 38% will be lost. If the father is non-practicing and mother regular, only 2% of the children will become regular worshippers and 37% will attend irregularly. Over 60% of their children will be lost to the church. What happens if the father is regular and the mother is irregular or non-practicing? Amazingly, the percentage of children becoming regular goes up from 33% to 38% with the irregular mother and up to 44% with the non-practicing. This suggests that the loyalty to the father’s commitment grows to the mother’s laxity or indifference to religion. In short, if a father does not go to church, no matter how faithful his wife’s devotions, only 1 child in 50 will become a regular worshipper. If a father does go regularly, regardless of the practice of the mother between two-thirds and three-quarters of their children will become churchgoers (regular and irregular).One of the reasons suggested for this distinction is that children tend to take their cues about domestic life from Mom, while their concepts of the world outside come from Dad. If dad takes faith in God seriously then the message to their children is that God should be taken seriously. Too many men, including professional Christian men, express their role as father exclusively in terms of financial provider. The fact is, children are not looking for financial provision; they are looking for love, guidance, and a role model for what it means to be a man. There is simply no substitute for the love, involvement, and commitment of a responsible father.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Be Careful where You Go

In seasons of drought we tend to forget about our diverse wildlife as the lack of water can either move some out of the area or cause some critters to become dormant until better days return. With the return of abundant rains this spring it seems our backyards have come alive once again. Some of the returning creatures are welcomed while others are remembered for their pesky annoyances and our willingness to eradicate them in any way possible. The squirrels are big and fat again with attitude toward the dog as to who owns the grassy area under and around the trees. Bella has laid claim on her yard and lies in wait for the squirrels to step foot on the ground, then the rodeo is on. It’s a game they both like to play and I won’t be surprised to see them playing and rolling around in the grass together one day. Late evening and sunset brings out the little green frogs to feed on some ground bugs while the hot sunshine tends to arouse the rebounding horned toad population who love to chow down on the ants which have been driven to the top by all the sub-moisture. That also includes those nasty little carnivore fire-ants who can ruin a picnic for even the innocent sugar ants. Fire-ants have a tactical way about them. Most of the time one never knows they are there. Somehow they get on your body undetected, then one of them blows a horn, or something, and they all go to biting at the same time. That perpetrates the involuntary engagement of the fire-ant shuffle, a dance which includes the rapid removal of shirts, pants, shoes (boots, sandals, flip-flops), socks and whatever else it takes to get to and brush off the ants that have set you on fire. One tends to take closer observance of where they stand following their first encounter with fire-ants. Well, snakes are another subject all together. They happen to be one of those necessary evils in the natural community, but most people view them as, the only good snake is a dead snake. It’s a big world out there so I give a wide berth to any snake so we both might live to do our work another day. Then there’s the alligator that decided to take a little vacation trip from the river the other morning. Problem is he got spied by some gun-toting dudes that deemed him a danger to the public, although already wrangled and tied to the bumper of the game warden’s truck, and killed him. Should have stayed with your own kind gator, down there in the river where people don’t care or know about you.

[Mark 7:14-23] July 2, 1982, Lawrence Richard Walters, “Lawn Chair Larry” took flight in a homemade airship. Wanting to take flight since a young teen, his intentions were to attach a few helium filled balloons to a lawn chair, cut the anchor, and float above his backyard at a height of about 30 feet for several hours. He planned to use a pellet gun to burst balloons to gently float him to the ground. Dubbed “Inspiration I” the flying machine was an ordinary patio chair with 45 helium-filled weather balloons attached to it. He cut the anchor and rapidly ascended to a height of 15,000 feet and floated from his home in San Pedro, California directly into controlled air space near Los Angeles International Airport. After 45 minutes of flight he shot several balloons, then dropped the pellet gun. Descending slowly, hanging cables got caught in some power lines causing a black-out in Long Beach. Needless-to-say, Walter was in great trouble. It is said that sin will take us to places we never intended to go; keep us there longer than we intended to stay; and cost us more than we ever intended to spend. Evil lurks within us all and Mark reminds us, “What comes out of a man is what makes him ‘unclean’.”

Saturday, June 04, 2016


I believe you could count on both hands the number of times I’ve missed Sunday worship in my local congregation in the past twenty-five years. And most of those misses were voluntary - being out of town. So rare am I sick to begin with, I was so sick last week I was beginning to believe my next trip to the church building was going to be in a casket. Yeh, I was sick!! And on a holiday weekend to boot!! I was beginning to think I had strep throat and was praying it wasn’t going to bloom into tonsillitis. Most of last week I didn’t feel real well, but it didn’t hit me hard until Saturday evening. Needless-to-say Sunday morning I went to the building and got everything ready to go for worship, and crashed. Sunday and Monday were spent in bed and Tuesday in the doctor’s office I’m found to have, at best, bronchitis; probably, bronchial pneumonia. Of course, being the typical hard-headed male, I was determined to work my way through this “cold” like I always do and everything would be fine. “All I’ve got to do is keep going,” I challenge myself, and I did right up to the point of total exhaustion. Now the worst part of this whole episode was the weather and having to work the yard cleaning up tree debris and keeping the grass cut back between evening storms. Plus, I had been without home internet for nearly a week, unable to do any work all weekend. Come to find out, I had had a lightning strike close enough to knock out my radio receiver and I was way down the list of storm related repairs to be taken care of. I finally got my service restored this past Wednesday. Well, things are on the mend, accept now my wife is not feeling well.

There was an older man who went out jogging. He was running around the track that encircles the high school football field where the team was conducting their practice. When the football players began running their sprints up and down the field, the man challenged himself, “I’ll just keep running until they quit.” So, they ran; and he ran. And they kept on running; so he kept on running. Finally, in total exhaustion the man had to stop. While walking along to slow his cardio, an equally exhausted football player walked over to him and said, “Boy, we sure are glad you finally stopped, mister. Our coach told us we had to keep running wind sprints as long as the old guy keeps jogging!”

 [1 Thessalonians 5:12-22; Proverbs 15] With all the conflict, and the suffering that goes along with it in this world today, one would think mankind would want to stop challenging himself to be bigger and greater than his neighbor, or at the least stop challenging his neighbor to become like him, even if that means dragging him down into the mud. Much too often lately we hear of mortal conflicts stemming from verbal challenges. We have a disagreement with someone and get into an argument. Voices get raised. Neither side wants to be the first to give in, to stop speaking in anger. Everyone shares the attitude, “I’ll just keep on till they quit!” So the other party stays angry. And on and on we go, eventually finding ourselves emotionally and even physically exhausted by the ongoing animosity. That leads to some pretty wild decisions being made as to how best settle the situation. Let me challenge you to do something very difficult to do the first couple of times. The next time you get into an argument, be the first to give in. Be the first to stop the yelling and the name-calling. Be the first to say, “I’m sorry.” It’s the quickest way to stop the vicious cycle. You’re not right or wrong; you’re being mature in your thinking. “A soft answer turns away wrath; but a harsh word stirs up anger.” Peace.

Taking TimeTo Remember

I grew up on the south shores of Lake Ontario, where the winters were brutal, the spring-times were wet, summers were perfect and autumn always absolutely beautiful. I would still live there eight months of the year if it were possible, but you can keep those winters. Summertime holidays were a big deal during my youth with Memorial Day being the big kickoff of outdoor activity. There would be parades in every city and town around, taking time out to remember and honor those who served this country during the great wars, and especially honoring those who gave their life so others could remain free to pursue Godly happiness. It was also a weekend that started seasons for motorsports, Little League, and amateur baseball and softball leagues. Some family traditions took them to the lakeshore for a picnic cookout, boating and water skiing. My mother and her parents always found time to talk about the brother and son lost in WWII. They never had a grave to visit as he was lost overseas and never recovered for burial. It was a solemn and joyous weekend wrapped into one with remembrance and celebration being the order of the day. I fear with the reality of movies and the real-time minute-to-minute media coverage we receive today - war, battles and destruction have become a way of life for us, and our sensitivity toward the sacrifices, even unto death, that our service men and women are making for US, is waning into a big party by the beach. There’s nothing wrong with freely having fun, just remember who it is that has sustained that freedom for you while you’re complaining about the traffic.

[2 Peter 1:3-7] The apostle Paul tells us that in order to ensure not falling; a Christian must give diligence to add virtue to his or her faith. The word translated “virtue” in some Bible translations, means “goodness” or “moral excellence”. To be virtuous, good, morally excellent, doesn’t happen by accident. It is a quality that must be sought after with “all diligence”. In this respect, I feel we are taking a fall as citizens of both God’s kingdom and citizens of our great country. The world admires and even celebrates those who excel. In sports, excellence is recognized by various awards like Heisman, Golden Glove, Dick Butkus, MVP, Rookie of the Year, metals and trophies and so on. Employers recognize the excellence of their employees with bonuses, plaques and various awards. The world recognizes great accomplishments with Nobel or Pulitzer prizes. Those who achieve great things in these different arenas could testify to the dedication and hard work behind their accomplishments. To excel in morality or goodness also requires dedication, pursuit, hard work, made all the more difficult by so many evil influences and enemies, the minions of Satan. The path to virtue and moral goodness follows Jesus. In fact, 2 Peter 1:3 says that God calls us to that virtue; His virtue. Notice, to be good is to think good thoughts (Proverbs 23:17), to speak good words (James 3:9-10) and to do good things (Romans 13: 1-7). To be virtuous, morally excellent, is to think like the Lord; speak as would the Lord; and to do the things that the Lord would do. The Lord’s church celebrates a memorial the first day of every week in remembrance of our Lord and Savior. Even Paul had to rehearse this fact in his first letter to the Corinthians as they had forgotten what the Lord’s Supper was really all about (2 Corinthians 23-26). Our Lord and Savior, Jesus the Christ, laid down his life for us (1 John 3:16) and saved us from our sins (Colossians 1:13-14). Remember.