Sunday, October 6, 2019

Perceptions and Opinions

     To be out and about in the public eye these days is certainly an eye opener.  So many people have such odd perspectives of what is going on around them.  I think one must realize that in itself is the key.  Our perspective is what makes the difference in not only our day to day lives but in our long term life style as well.  Let me see if I can explain what I mean.
     If you view the world as a hostile place just brimming with people whose only goal in life is to be mean to other people, that is exactly what you are going to find in life around you.  Our perception is guided by our expectations.  Here's another and simpler example.  Did you realize how many people drive cars just like yours before you got that car?  Or if you have decided to buy a car and you want a green one, have mercy you are seeing a lot of green cars on the road these days aren’t you?
     I had a fellow tell me a while back he missed the days when we could share ideas with each other and still be friends even though we had differences of opinion.  I sat down with him and mostly just playing the devil's advocate, I disagreed with almost everything he said.  We laughed and joked for an hour and even now I can't tell you one thing we agreed upon.  After a while, I brought this to his attention.  At first he was shocked and then he just broke out in uncontrolled laughter.  With his eyes filled with the tears of laughter he said I had played him for a sucker.  After some more conversation he realized the truth of the matter and how much we had in common after all.  He also realized he had somehow been virtually programmed by not only the people around him but also by the media.  He expected people to violently disagree and that is what he usually found.  His change of perception made all the difference in the world and he started making friends of people with whom he never dreamed he could be friends.
     When God tells us to love one another, He does not mean only if they agree with you.  Unfortunately He also did not mean they are going to love you back.  It is not up to us individually to change someone else’s opinions in order to make them love us.  Actually it is quite the contrary.  If you allow for and respect differing opinions you will come much closer to securing that mutual relationship and as I often jokingly say, “You can’t really go wrong if you just let them believe what they want to believe even if they are wrong”. 

God is good all the time.

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

And the greatest of these is love

Hi Folks.  I was rummaging through some old papers today and I found something I had written about years ago.  I don't know why I never shared this story and I am a bit ashamed that I did not.  It is far past time this story was told, so enjoy.

1 Corinthians 13 in the American Standard Version is "But now abideth faith, hope, love, these three; and the greatest of these is love."  

I have a friend named Ben who gave his time at a soup kitchen for the homeless.  He was charitable with his time and with his love but he always wanted to do more.  His financial status was mediocre to say the least so volunteering his time at the soup kitchen was about all he could muster.  I must tell you Ben has suffered through some conditioning that would have hardened most men far beyond the effect it has had on him.
You see, one day about 2 years ago, Ben reached out with his heart and decided to make a difference in a person’s life besides just refilling his bowl.  He befriended a homeless man named Arthur and offered him a place in his home, just until he could get on his feet.  Upon completion of his duties that evening at the soup kitchen, Ben took Arthur to his home feeling quite good about the path he was taking.  Arthur also was "feeling the love" so to speak.  Upon their arrival, Ben offered Arthur clean clothes, and a place to bathe.  Arthur, moved by the hospitality and kindness being shown him emerged from the bath about an hour later looking (and smelling) like a new man.  They were both pleased indeed with the way things were going. 
While the two were in the kitchen preparing a snack, Ben's wife, Patricia, came in from her prayer meeting and was introduced to Arthur.  Now Arthur was not an ignorant man and it seems he was quite smooth when it came to dealing with the ladies.  Within minutes, he and Patricia were conversing as if they were old friends.  Ben, not a presumptuous man, was pleased to watch their friendship grow over the next few weeks.
Now!   To make a long story short, Patricia and Arthur made a run to the local convenience store one evening on the pretense of grabbing a snack for the three of them.  The only problem was they didn't stop there.  Nope. These 2 folks found love in the potato chip isle and headed south for warmer weather. 
To say Ben was devastated by this development would be like saying World War 2 was a minor skirmish.  He virtually collapsed emotionally for a week and would not see visitors, take phone calls, or even leave his house.  When he did emerge, he was the Ben we had all come to love and admire.  You honestly could not tell anything bad had happened in his life.
     I saw Ben the day he reentered humanity and his spirits were high.  I exclaimed I was glad to see him and explained I was very worried about him indeed.  Ben just smiled and told me he was sorry for worrying me but he was spending time with the Lord.  When I asked him how he had come to terms with his loss, he looked at me with a look of confusion on his face and asked, “What loss?”  I said, “Well Ben, your wife of 10 years ran off with another man.”  Ben said, “Oh that.  The Lord told me not to consider that a loss.  He says he has plans for me and she was not going to be part of those plans.”   He was so serene in telling me this it left almost no room for discussion.  Needless to say, I was a bit skeptical and decided I would worry about him silently and just keep an eye on him.  
     About a week later, I received a phone call from Ben asking me to come and see him.  I quickly put aside everything I was doing and hurried to his house feeling sure something was terribly wrong.  As I was getting out of my car in his driveway, Ben came rushing out to greet me with all the excitement of a five year old on Christmas morning.  He was talking so fast I couldn’t understand a word he was saying.  I calmed him down and took him back in the house where he began to explain. 
     He was raised in an orphanage and never knew his parents.  Every question he put to authorities at the orphanage was met with the same answer, “We just don’t know anything about your parents or even how you came to be at the orphanage.”  Ben finally gave up trying to find out more about his roots, married and settled down only to find out he could not father children.  Devastated by that news, Ben settled himself with being the best husband he knew how to be and vowed to always give as much of his time as he could to helping others.  
     The next day was his 35th birthday and just before he called me he received a call from the orphanage where he had been raised.  It seems the folks at the orphanage knew all along who his parents were but were not allowed to tell him until his 35th birthday.  His father was a multimillionaire who had left his company to establish a Christian mission in Costa Rica.  Unfortunately, Ben’s mother had died in childbirth and soon after his father had been diagnosed with a terminal and inoperable brain tumor.  Having no other family, his father had made arrangements with the orphanage to care for Ben and follow his progress through his 35th birthday.  At that time, if he was deemed to be morally fit, a fortune of 20 million dollars was to be handed over to him, hopefully to be used to further the mission started by his father and mother.
     Ben was ecstatic.  He explained the mission was set up to take children who were orphaned from all over South America.  He would be directly responsible for seeing to their care and education.  Ben had been handed more children than he could have ever hoped for.
The last time I heard from Ben, he had been in Costa Rica for 20 years.  He was happily married to a good woman.   The two of them and a staff of 30 or so more people were administering the necessary care at that time for over 400 children.  During the previous 20 years, the number surpassed 3000.  I honestly don’t believe anyone on earth could have been happier than he. 
     What went on during the week of seclusion Ben spent in his small house after his wife ran off with Arthur?  Surely the Lord had put his mind and his heart to rest and prepared him for all that was to come.   The charity and love Ben had in his heart was put to the ultimate test and he passed with flying colors.  Because of the love in his heart, Ben was given the means to extend that love and his charity to over 3000 needy children.  The most heart warming part of this story: every one of those children called him Dad.

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Why Can't I Find a Church to Attend????

     People are leaving the churches.  They are not leaving the church because they don’t believe.  They are leaving the church because they don’t know what to believe.  Everyone seems to know what the churches stand against but people are confused regarding what the church stands for.   It would be hard to estimate how many actual church buildings there are but in the United States alone it is generally estimated there are 31,000 different Protestant denominations.  What this tells me is that people have come up with at least 31,000 different ways to interpret The Bible and that doesn’t even count the thousands of independent churches.  While virtually all of them believe in the basics (God, Jesus Christ as savior, etc…), beyond that, the differences are numerous enough to be frightening to anyone searching for a spiritual path.
     I am not going to single out any individual church belief or practice but I will admit I have had serious reservations about some of the churches I have visited.  At one for example, I was actually turned away at the door because I had in my hand a New International version of The Bible The pastor asked me to leave explaining that his church only allowed the King James version.   Another time, I was on vacation and did not bring a suit so I wore a nice Hawaiian shirt and slacks and went to the closest church I could find.  I was turned away at the door because I was not dressed appropriately.  Lucky for me, the church across the street welcomed me with open hearts.  Granted these are a couple of extreme examples but with 31,000 denominations as well as thousands of independent churches, it is easy to see what a daunting task it might be for someone to find a church that not only shares their beliefs but also grants them comfort.
     So, as seekers, what should we do?  Well, I can tell you that I attend a church now but we do have some ideological differences.  The people there are wonderful and I do truly enjoy their fellowship.  Some of them to whom I have conversed very personally are well aware of my differences with their church doctrine but none of them have reacted negatively toward me in the slightest.  As a matter of fact, they have been extremely welcoming and loving.  I have befriended and even discussed some of my thoughts with the minister as well.  We are very close and the only major comment he has made was that he believes God does not act logically.  We both laughed and agreed to disagree on that point.  The reason I go to this church is simple.  It is a house of God and I feel closer to Him when I am there and I am always glad to go and worship Him.  The fact that I have differences with this particular church’s doctrine does not change the fact that I am there to worship Him in my own mind and heart and in my own way.  It also does not change the fact that I have come to love the people I have met there.
     My suggestion is simple.  Find a church and go there.  Get to know the people. Unless they have beliefs that strongly affect you in an adverse way, enjoy your time with them and in God’s house.  Keep first and foremost in your mind that you are there to worship God.  If you manage to make friends at the same time well then you are all the better off.  If you run into people you do not like, try sitting on the other side.  Don’t let your feelings keep you away from God’s house.   Above all, don’t let your head deprive you of God’s love.

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Technology Is Not The Devil

     In 1492 when old Chris Columbus set out on his quest, he found much more than he bargained for and he started a march to a new world.  Since that time we have come to intimately know virtually every corner of our new world.
     Using the word virtually was my way of segwaying (I don't think that's a word but you get the point) into a whole new virtual world that sits before us.  The digital age we are in holds amazing possibilities but like everything else positive in this world, there is a negative side as well.  While technology has brought with it some amazing advances in so many areas of our lives it has also brought forth evils and problems we have never seen before.
     Anonymity on the web has emboldened those with extreme views which has unfortunately allowed them to garner support and supporters from so many who don't bother to think things through.  People openly speak out against God, home, family, and everything we generally hold dear in our lives.  We have to worry about our personal information getting into the wrong hands.  We have to worry about our physical safety which alone forces many of us into anonymity.  We have to worry about our children's safety.  There is reason for concern in so many areas.
     So what is the answer?   Well, let's start with this.  Jesus said, "Why are you trying to remove a speck from your brother's eye when you have a log in your own eye?  Remove the log from your own eye so you may see better to remove the speck from your brother's eye."  My Grandma  said it a bit different.  She said, "Before you get involved, sweep your own back porch first."  The point is we must look after ourselves first.  Make sure we are right with God and doing His will.  I hate to point this out but there are many weak willed people in the world who are easily swayed and easily confused.  Unfortunately many of these people come into contact with those who have chosen the wrong path and they become willing followers.  Our fervent hope should be that we could be a shining example for at least some of these people and help to steer them in the right direction and we can only do that with God's help.
     An excellent starting place is prayer.  I recently heard my 10 year old grand daughter praying before bed one night.  She said, "Thank you God for helping me to believe in you and please keep helping me for the rest of my life."  This is something she came up with on her own and it made me think how important it is that we constantly put our faith in God to make sure we do the right thing.  It's a simple fact that if you are making yourself constantly aware of God's presence in your life it really is hard to do something you should not do.  Guess what!  By doing just that you have become that shining example I mentioned earlier.  Continuing on that path and reaping the rewards that path will give you will make people notice.  It will also make them question why and how.  You will know how to answer their questions because getting to that point has been with God's guidance and that guidance will not simply stop at that point.
     I must enter here a note of caution, however.  Do not be dismayed if someone who asks does not stay.  It's not logical to think we can turn around every person we meet.  Keep in mind when this happens that you have not failed as there will be many successes down the road.  Keep walking that straight road.
     How does this all tie in with technology, the digital age, the internet, and all that entails.  Obviously, unless you are a hermit living off the grid in a mountain cabin, you are going to come in contact with technology.  Whether it is using a credit/debit card for a purchase, having a doorbell camera, using Facebook or Instagram, or just surfing the web. Technology is everywhere.  Use it all in the right way and without denigrating others in any way.  There is a book entitled "God Is My Copilot".  I prefer to think God is my pilot and with Him in charge, it is much harder to stray.

My Love and prayers for you all,
Brother David

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Don't Judge That Behavior By A First Impression

     The 2 situations I am about to describe took place over several years.  I tell you this because I don't want my life to sound too eventful.
    Pete Nelson (name changed to protect the innocent) was a neighbor who lived just down the street.  I really didn't like the guy.  He was arrogant and seemed to care very little about anyone around him.  Where ever he worked, he had to be there early and he had two modes of transportation.  One was a motorcycle and the other was some kind of hot rod he worked on in his spare time.  Both vehicles sounded as if he simply opted out of installing mufflers and this was painfully obvious as he roared down our street every morning around 5:30 AM.  After enduring this for a while I finally got enough and walked down to his house to see what could be done.  I rang his doorbell several times and was about to leave when I heard him yell for me to come around back.  As I entered his back yard, I was absolutely transfixed.  Most of his back yard consisted of play equipment for kids, some of which I had never seen the likes of before.  Seeing my shock and fascination he explained that most of it was of his personal design and was made specifically to accommodate children with all types of disabilities.  He had two perfectly healthy children of his own but his sisters son of 6 has cerebral palsy.  He found out his nephew, like many other children with health issues, had never experienced the joy of a playground.  He had never ridden a merry-go-round or a seesaw.  We lived in a fairly large city and he discovered there were many children like his nephew so he decided to do something about it.  His designs and accomplishments were nothing short of amazing.  Most of his Saturdays were spent watching parents with their disabled children enjoying the fruits of his labors as well as designing and building new items for them to enjoy.
     Needless to say I was speechless and never said a word about the noise.  As a matter of fact, I didn't hear it a lot after that and when I did, I smiled.  The noise told me a good man was still kicking.

    Years ago I moved into a new neighborhood with my family.  The second day, a neighbor came over and introduced herself.  She set about telling us all about the neighborhood and the neighbors.  She said all of the neighbors were really nice except for one old woman who lived by herself and had nothing to do with anyone.  When she left, I made a bee line to the old woman's house.  I must say she seemed very apprehensive as I stood on her front steps explaining who I was but after a few minutes, she invited me in for coffee and the best chocolate brownies I have ever put in my mouth.  Her name was Ellen and after about half an hour of general chit-chat she began to tell me her story.  Almost 15 years before, her husband and 3 children were killed in a terrible automobile accident after which she withdrew into herself.  All she does now is go to work and come home.  Pictures of her lost family adorned every wall I could see. I have to tell you we cried together for quite a while but then we prayed together.  She desperately missed being around people and she said she often peeked through the blinds to watch when she heard small children playing in the area.  One of the things the first neighbor told me was how they had all seen her peeking at them when they were walking near her house.  No one understood all she was doing was watching that which she felt was that of which she could no longer be a part.  She was lonely and that loneliness was eating her up inside and she had no idea what to do about it.  I asked her if she was trying to keep her experiences private or if she would mind letting people know.  She simply said she did not care one way or the other.  Before I left, I invited her to our house on the following Saturday afternoon for what I was going to call a neighborhood get-together.  After applying a little pressure, she agreed to come.
     My wife heartily agreed to the get-together and as a matter of fact, she took care of most of the arrangements.  My job was to get the other neighbors to come.  My task was not difficult as most of the neighbors seemed thrilled to come.  Several of them did tell me not to bother the old woman because she would never come.  I just smiled.
     What I experienced that following Saturday was nothing short of a miracle. I know at first I embarrassed Ellen a little as I described what I had been told by so many of them and what I had discovered when I went to Ellen's house.  I told it to them the same way she had told it to me.  I don't think I have ever been in a situation where there were so many tears and hugs.
     Since that wonderful Saturday, Ellen's house became a standard pit stop for all the kids in the neighborhood.  I told you she made great brownies but it seems she also makes great cookies, cakes, and pies as well.  She also generally has her evening meal about 3 times a week at one of the neighbor's homes and she cooks burgers and hotdogs almost every weekend the weather allows and most of us stopped by for one.  She also became very active in her church and shone her light everywhere she went.
     Several years later, when my second child was due and we needed a bigger house, I went to tell Ellen we were moving.  Needless to say there were tears as I explained to her I had little to do with the change in her life.  It was Jesus that led both of us then just as He leads both of us today and just as He would continue to lead as long as we would let Him.  I continued to see her from time to time until I left the state.  I have never seen anyone who shined a brighter light than hers and I never saw it dim.
     We can never know exactly what our neighbors have done or been through.  What we do know, and sometimes forget, is Jesus's direction to love one another.  He didn't add any conditions to that such as unless they wake you up in the morning or peek out their windows at you.  Remember, hate is poison.  Love is the cure.

My Love and prayers for you all,
Brother David

Monday, February 4, 2019

A Requested but Not So Normal Post

     I’m not really sure how to address this so I will just ramble a bit.  The hormones in chicken are causing men to grow breasts.  Well, that’s a shocking first statement and I must admit not exactly on point (remember I said I was going to ramble and besides, I wanted to make sure I have your attention).  Exactly what the point is, is hard to articulate without making someone mad and I assure you that is not my intention but my, my, my, how things have changed.  So many people have asked me how I felt about this I finally decided to just lay it out in rambling fashion.
     In the beginning, the male of the species took the most dangerous tasks of hunting, providing, and protecting while the female was the gatherer and nurturer.  Please do not misunderstand as I must confess I myself am not much of a hunter but due to the physical makeup of the sexes, the rolls were pretty obvious.  This was true throughout the occupation of this earth by humans all the way into the 1960s.  Far be it from me to say the system was perfect as no system is but the system we are moving into is simply confusing. 
     Before everyone shouts at me, let me say I do believe women should be treated equally in the work force.  A job should pay the same regardless of who is performing those duties.  By the same token, payment for a job done should be based on job performance and not what sex or color a person happens to be.  Ah, but I digress…told you I was going to ramble….
     Speaking as a man, I just don’t like seeing men being emasculated.  I am sure there is a way to accommodate women and their goals without denigrating men.  One does not have to be bad for the other to be good.  It’s a lot the same way I feel about politics.  One party does not have to be demonized in order to build up the other.  And there I go rambling again…
     How is this?  God created 2 (two) sexes.  Now the government is telling us we don’t have to identify as our birth sex or any sex for that matter.  People are even coming up with new pronouns to avoid being masculine or feminine.  I’m having trouble wrapping my head around a 3rd choice.  Since manhood is basically being attacked, will a third sex choice then cause womanhood to be attacked as well?  Again I say, “My, my, my! How things have changed”.
     As for me, I will continue to do my best to love and respect all, regardless of their actions or thoughts.  I will continue to ask God to give me strength and the understanding I need to continue living in this beautiful world He has provided for us.  Too many people are angry.  Anger seldom accomplishes anything.  Love, by contrast, is a great warrior and if you don’t have enough of it there is only one way to get it.  Pray!  Pray again!  Keep praying!  God is good all the time.  All the time, God is good.

My Love and prayers for you all,
Brother David

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Changes To The Lord's Prayer????

     This is just a “weigh in” and maybe a little lesson in logic.  For me personally, when I began to think of God, Jesus, The Bible and how they influence our lives more logically and less emotionally, my relationship with God began to blossom like never before.  I have learned to try and put my basic emotions aside when trying to decipher God’s plan for me and try to look at every situation more logically.  As a result, I have achieved a personal peace and happiness I would have deemed heretofore impossible.  That being said let me get to the point of this short post.

     The big story in the news today is the Pope changing the wording in the Lord’s Prayer.  After 16 years of research into this particular matter, he wants us to change the phrase “Lead us not into temptation” to “Abandon us not when in temptation”.  As with most people, I balked a little when I first heard this but after some logical consideration, I have come to the conclusion he is correct.   Logically put, The Lord does not “lead” us into temptation.  Satan is the one who tempts us and he does so every chance he gets.  He is the evil one who seeks to tempt us into behaviors that will distance us from our God.  It therefore stands to reason that it is actually a little silly to ask God not to “lead us into temptation” because that is not what he does to us.  When Satan tempts us, many of us need God’s help to avoid that temptation so it just make sense that we would ask God not to abandon us when Satan is dangling that delicious looking hook in front of us.

     Those of you who know me know that there are many aspects of many religious dogmas to which I simply can not subscribe.  By the same token, there are many aspects to which I do subscribe simply because I can see the logic.  I have yet to discover any organized religion to which I can totally believe and in which I can immerse myself.  My advice to all has always been to establish your own personal covenant with God.  The personal relationship you and God establish between you is not necessarily identical to the relationship He establishes with someone else.  Therefore, think for yourself but be careful to never disparage the relationship someone else has established with God.  We are all individuals and it only makes “logical” sense that the established relationships we have with God are also distinct, indivisible entities as well.

     May God shower you with His love and remember, God is good all the time and all the time, God is good.

Friday, September 14, 2018

So Many of the Elderly Need Us

     I’m writing here, not as a preacher, but as a man of some years.  That’s just another way of saying “an old man” by the way.  I recently found myself greatly saddened by the death of Burt Reynolds.  I don’t know why I was as saddened as I was as I have seen many pass in my time.  Greats such as the renowned evangelist, Billy Graham, one of my favorite comedians, Harry Anderson, one of my favorite singers, Aretha Franklin, and many more and that’s just in the past year.  In addition, let us not forget family.  I am one of the elders in my family now as most of those who came before me have gone before me as well.  The only thing I can figure is the death of Burt came at a time when I was in an introspective frame of mind.  Getting older seems to be defined in part by how many people you know and know of who leave this world.
     What I was pondering when I heard of Burt’s death was simply the state of the world and oh my goodness what a state it is in.  I won’t beleaguer the point as all one has to do is watch any news station for about 15 minutes.  It’s not limited to present days, however, as a look back in recent as well as ancient history shows us many equal and even much worse times of turmoil.  Most people don’t seem to understand the relationship between turmoil and the human race.  I had an elderly uncle tell me once that he believed God in his wisdom limited our life spans for a reason.  He said our minds are not equipped to be able to handle but so much change in our surroundings.  I wonder now if he had a point since I have heard so many people my age and older state very plainly their readiness to leave this world.  It breaks my heart to hear someone say this.  It’s as if the weight of what they have been through has resulted in their forgetting what a wonderful gift God has given them. 
     Maybe what I have said here will give you a little more insight into the workings of an aging mind.  There are so many of the elderly that have no one in their lives with whom to simply sit and talk.   I implore everyone reading this to consider the joy they could bring to an elderly person’s life by simply being available.  Open your minds and you may also discover a wealth of knowledge they are more than willing to share.  If you give a little of yourself and in doing so bring forth a smile, is that not truly an example of “love one another”.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

A Journey to Abundance

     It has been a long time since I have posted here and for that I do apologize.  The spiritual journey I have experienced has been long, arduous, and at the same time, richly rewarding.  I want to relay here, not what I have done, but what I have learned. 
     God created humans for companionship.  We chose free will and in doing so, many of us walked paths that did not include God in our lives.  In other words, we fell woefully short of our intended purpose.  One can only imagine the magnitude of the sadness God must surely feel because of our shortcomings.
     There is one thing above all else we must remember.  We are god's children and he loves us, as my mother used to say, "warts and all".  God is infinite and unfailing.  He never turns his back on us as we have done to Him.  At any point in our lives, all we have to do is speak to Him and He hears but what He wants is to live within us.  He wants companionship.  He wants love.  So the question becomes, how do we give God what He wants.  There are two main answers to that question.
     What we need from God is forgiveness.  None of us is perfect and all of us have sinned.  Many of us feel unworthy of God's love because of the sins we have committed.  What so many of us don't understand is the expanse of God's love.  There is simply nothing we could ever do that would keep God from forgiving us.  In order to get to that point, we must first forgive any who have wronged us.  That is not always an easy thing to do but it must be done.  How can we expect God to forgive us if we have someone we can not forgive?  Start by simply saying aloud that you do forgive that person you feel did you wrong.  You are not going to believe yourself when you start so say it again.  Some will feel the forgiveness  in their hearts fairly quickly.  Others may have to say it out loud hundreds of times before their heart gets the message.  Don't quit.  Keep saying it to yourself whenever you get the chance and at some point your anger and disappointment will simply cease to exist.  While this path sounds difficult, you may find it even harder to deal with the other aspect of forgiveness.  We must learn to forgive ourselves.  We have all heard people say, "I am my own worst critic".  What we must tell ourselves is if God is willing to forgive us then we must also be willing.  God gave us free will at our request.  Like a good parent He is letting us travel the roads we choose in the hope we find the road that leads to Him.  He has never deserted us or turned His back on us and He hears and sees all we do.  It is said that in order to receive His forgiveness, all we must do is ask.  That is true beyond words and explanation but you won't know it unless you believe it.
      The other answer is love.  We must learn to feel love for every person we see or even think about.  No one is better or worse than we are ourselves and all of us are children of God so in essence we are all brothers and sisters.  That train of thought may make it a little easier to love.  Then you must consider that it is a daunting task indeed.  As humans, it is hard to love the person who just cut you off in traffic.  It's hard to love the murderer sitting on death row but he also is a child of God.  He also has God within him.  Where this gets dicey for some folks is failing to understand that loving someone does not always mean liking that person and we certainly can not always like or love what another person does.  Try just loving the person as a child of God and let everything else go. 
     Work on love and forgiveness.  Keep both things in the forefront of your mind and they will get easier and easier, not as you get used to thinking about them but rather as God gains a stronger and stronger foothold within you.  The fulfillment you will feel in your life will enrich you like never before.  Forgiveness and love are two things you can work on and ask God for and you will receive them.  Of that there is no doubt and once God is strong within you, you will be strong in His love and the abundance you will have in your life will almost be overwhelming.
     I love you.  No matter who you are reading this, know that I love you but much more importantly, know that God loves you.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Use a Hero to Stop the Bickering

Just a word or two....

When we are small, the main direction we look is up.  Life seems at its best at any age if there is something positive to see when we look up.  As humans, we need something or someone at which to look up.  We need heroes.
When most people think about a hero, they think about the soldier who risked his life to save 6 of his men or the fire fighter who entered the blazing building and brought out a child who was trapped by the blaze.  While these are truly remarkable heroes, heroes in general are not in short supply.
It is easy to see the heroine in the mother who carts her children to school and social functions day in and day out.  You can see the hero in the man who takes his kids fishing on a Saturday morning even if he knows nothing about fishing.  It is the friend who found out you were having a health problem and called to check on you.  While contemplating these things, it occurred to me that heroes are everywhere around us and need to be loved and revered as such.
     There is so much division in our country right now and dissension seems to be the norm.  We seem to be defining people by singular opinions with which we disagree.  Surely there has never been any one thing since the dawn of mankind in which everyone was in agreement.  Why is it that we can no longer sit together over a cup of coffee and enjoy each others company and the similarities we share rather than accentuating the differences and allowing those differences to push us apart and create animosity?
     Maybe we need to recognize the hero that dwells within each of us.  That could be an exercise that would allow us to return to the teachings of Jesus in which He told us to love one another.  We simply must find some common ground and stop all this bickering. 

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Church Going Ain't Always What it is Suppose to Be

     I have some neighbors who have not been to church in many years despite both having grown up in the church.  Being a person of curious nature, I inquired of them as to why they no longer attended.  I will have to admit their answer filled me with dismay.  It seems before they quit going to church they went to quite a few trying to find one they could call home.  Jerry, not his real name, confessed to me they simply could not find a church in which they felt welcome so after a while they simply gave up.  Jerry's wife, Samantha, also not her real name, told me she felt like she was being appraised in every church they went into.  "I don't understand why but I just felt so self conscious", she told me.  They both confessed they missed going to church and firmly believed they should be going.
     I recently met a young man who adamantly believes that Jesus Christ could be his savior.  I was a bit perplexed when he explained what he meant by "could be".  He grew up going to church with his parents and the church as well as its members played a large role in his upbringing.  He told me Jesus had always been a big part of his life and he believed he loved Jesus but he was convinced by his parents and other members of his home church that Jesus did not love him.  Barely able to contain myself after hearing this I asked him to please give me one reason he might have come to that conclusion.  Sadly, it is what his father told him point blank about five minutes after he confessed to his family that he was gay.  He tried to continue going to church and just staying away from his parents but the word soon got out and he was shunned and ridiculed by many of the other church members as well.
     A couple of weeks ago I spoke to a homeless man who told me he wanted desperately to go back to church.  The last time he tried, he sat near the back so as not to draw attention to himself.  At the conclusion of the service, one of the associate pastors came to him and asked him to please bathe and wear clean clothes more fitting for worship if he came back.  Being homeless makes it very hard to stay clean and he said he was wearing the best clothes he had.
     I recently heard of a black church of which it was said had an amazing pastor.  The gentleman who told me about it was infirm, living in an elderly care facility, and unable to make the trip to church.  He suggested I give it a try.  I did.  I was not welcomed with open arms.  The looks I received from many in the congregation had me a bit on edge within seconds of walking through the door.  The gentleman I sat next to asked me point blank why I was there.  I responded, "because I love Jesus".  He looked at me angrily and asked, "you couldn't find a white church to love Him in?"  Appalled as well as feeling a bit dejected, I exited the church.  No one made a move to stop me.
      I have written earlier about how the churches in America are responsible for their own demise.  These are glaring examples of just how true that is.  All of this reminds me of the words of Saint Paul in Romans 8: 38-39.  "I am convinced that neither death not life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord."   Will mankind ever truly learn the importance of simple love?  Would it not be wonderful if we all could learn to love before the second coming?

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Pathways To God

    Everyone knows my main theme so let's put it to work here.  The worlds main religions, from Christianity and Judaism to Muslim and Hindu, are so vastly different from each other as to be mind boggling.  These differences and some misguided feelings of superiority of one over another have lead to many conflicts.  As most know, many of those conflicts are violently continuing even now.  I have been fortunate enough in my life to have known people and have friends from all faiths.  I have also been fortunate enough to see many of them within the practice of their religions.  I have been extremely fortunate to learn one amazing and perfect phenomenon.  All of these religions adhere to the belief that love of their deity and a love for each other is tantamount to the essence of their spirit and it's survival.  With that in mind, I have trouble understanding why any one of them thinks up to 5 billion people who don't agree with them  are wrong and have no future.  For reference, there are 2.2 billion Christians, 1.6 Billion Muslims, 1 billion Hindus, and 1/2 billion Buddhists.
     I just find it all dumbfounding.  Having friends in other faiths and seeing for myself what kind of people they are forced me to my knees to seek understanding and that understanding was granted.  It came in the breathtaking understanding of the commonality between these faiths.  My heart swelled and my thoughts swam with a feeling of brotherhood with all of God's creations.  God is everything and God is everywhere.  It is what we teach our children but we haven't begun to understand what we were teaching. We failed to grasp just how big that really is.
     I believe that each of us as Christians must have our own personal relationship with God and within that relationship is a covenant that guides us personally in our effort to be closer to Him.   In essence, because of my personal relationship with Him, what is right or wrong for me, may not be the same for someone else.  It does not mean either of us is closer or further from God nor does it change the basic morality of right and wrong.  I have come to the understanding it is the same for different faiths as well. 
     Remembering God is everything and God is everywhere, makes it fairly easy to understand how He could have different covenants with different groups, if one can overcome a lifetime worth of programming.  Each religion presents itself to be the one true religion which is indeed the main point of that lifetime's worth of programming we must overcome.  Until we reach a point where we can feel empathy for each others beliefs, we will continue to violate the very principles of our religions by fighting, arguing, and yes, even killing and destroying.  We must come to terms with the idea that we all truly are the children of God despite how we interpret that for ourselves personally.  Only then can we begin to live the way He intended us to live and have real peace between those of us who's beliefs are different.  We can begin by concentrating on those things which are not different such as the love for God and for each other.  These two concepts alone would give us the empathy we need to forge forward with a new understanding to an era more blessed by God than any other time in history.
     My advice to everyone is to unleash yourself, go forth, and try to befriend someone who is of a different faith than your own.  You will be amazed at what wonderful people you will meet and that alone will help you to confront that lifetime's worth of programming that strives to convince you of your own superiority.  Humble yourself and love.  This is the person God wants you to be, not the one who adorns and adores himself or places himself and his beliefs above all others.

Friday, July 29, 2016

Pray.....Then Talk

29 July 2016    

     I was standing on my front porch today when my next door neighbor came home (the lady of the house) and I mainly noticed because I had not seen them in several days.  It was a bit of a relief I guess you could say, to see her and know everything was alright.   We waved at each other but she showed not a hint of her usual smile.  She went inside for a bit and when she came back out, she walked over to where I was standing.  She told me her husband had collapsed at work with a seizure and had been rushed to the hospital.  She said they had found a tumor in his brain that they were going to surgically remove most of this very afternoon.  They told her they knew they could not get all of it but they would give him radiation to get the last bit.  They told her the prognosis was fair.  She was on the way back to the hospital and had no more time to talk so I told her I would pray for him and for her.  After she left I did pray for him and have several times since.  I also called several other people and got them praying as well.  With God's help, they will both get through this.

5 August 2016
Update Update Update Update Update Update
There is really good news to put here and something for everyone who prayed for my neighbor to pray for again.  Make it a prayer of praise and thanksgiving.  It seems the doctor was amazed that once into the surgery, the actuality did not match the pictures and the situation was suddenly less dire than believed.  He came through surgery amazingly, is home and up and around and the prognosis is excellent.  I've not talked to him yet but I am sure he would thank everyone from the bottom of his heart for their prayers.                                                   Update Update Update Update Update Update

     One of the people I called was my sister.  Somehow, probably in the talking about prayer, I guess I got a little preachy with my sister.  This is something I try not to do because she has not been open to it in the past.  Don't misunderstand.  She is a Christian.  She has been going to the Methodist church in town all of her life.  She is also 12 years older than I and she may have had a little trouble coming to terms with her little brother telling her about God.  In her defense, I do tend to proselytize a bit when I get started but the message I have is so wonderful to me and has filled my life so completely, I seem to be unable and unwilling to stop.  I knew a good long while ago that she only read this blog right after I first started it and went on my initial trip.  It's possible she did not realize I was keeping the blog going.  At any rate, almost everything I said to her, she agreed with.  She did not seem to get cooler when I began talking about the lack of necessity of studying and reading the old testament as a Christian.  She agreed with that completely.    Her response did seem a bit reserved when I spoke of the absurdity of the book of Revelations.  I didn't go very far into it and I did mention this blog.  I believe I may have sparked enough interest in her that she will pay it a visit.  I do not, however, expect her to change any idea she may have about any aspect of her personal convictions.  One thing I have learned in all of this is "us older folk can be really set in our ways".  Also, I'm pretty sure, because I know what type of person she is, she does not have to worry about the destruction of her soul.  She is simply a good person with a good and caring heart.
     Now comes your question which I'm sure is "So what's the point?"   Well, I had two points to make in this writing.  One was my neighbor, Byron.  He needs your prayers.  If you would give just a moment of your time and lift him up to God, I am sure it would be well received, appreciated, and helpful.  My second point was just about talking to people.  I do talk about God almost everywhere I go.  I also love to talk about current events, politics, football and numerous other subjects although I am prone to steer even the most spirited sports banter in the direction of God.  I do this simply because it is my favorite subject.  You may wonder if I ever get negative responses from people.  Of course I do but that doesn't stop me.  I have too many times seen a planted seed grow to fruition and change lives.  It seems to me that anyone who feels good about having God in their lives should therefore evangelize.  There are only two things to consider.  Suppose you passed up a chance to plant a seed and in the end that person's soul eventually faced destruction or suppose you did plant the seed and it grew and flowered and changed lives and helped pave a path to Heaven for that person.  Which side of that consideration would make you feel better about yourself?  Remember, I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.  God bless you all and please, don't keep good news to yourself.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

A Brief Continuation of "Attitudes"

     Of the time I spend surfing around on the internet, the vast majority is spent reading news stories from all over the world.   I even occasionally run across items like "Dear Abby".  After reading one of those articles just now, I had to make a comment here.  A young woman who wrote to Abby was distraught because she and her two children had been ostracized by her aunts and uncles.  These are the brothers and sisters of her deceased parents.  She explained how they were all devout Christians and could not abide the fact that she had given birth to 2 children out of wedlock.  Their attitude seems to fit right in with what I have written here in several articles.  I simply find it personally dumbfounding that these people can be so prejudiced and judgemental and still call themselves Christians.  This is truly a good example of why Christianity is in decline for the first time in history.  It is another case of folks trying to live by the old and new testaments and I offer this example up as yet another reason this can not and should not be done.  Once again I will say as plainly as I know how, "God's covenant with us as Christians is found in the New Testament and NOT the old Testament."  If I could somehow convince people to practice their Christianity based solely on the New Testament, which I honestly believe is the way it should be, so many of the problems we face today would simply melt away into nothingness.  Old prejudices would dissolve and be replaced with love.  The anger people feel for those who believe differently from themselves would be replaced with empathy and understanding.  Minds filled with hatred would be tempered and consoled and God's love would show them there is NO NEED TO HATE!  God wants us to love.  Love Him and love each other.
     The "religious" folk in our world are so caught up in the idea that all of the Bible is to be considered a holy book they have become frightened by the prospect of not adhering to every word of it which is creating problems rather than teaching us what God truly wants from us.  People were appalled when I took a Bible and ripped it in half separating the testaments.  I have read and studied the old testament just as I have the new testament.  I don't recommend everyone do that because it can simply be too confusing.  Again, I implore all those who read this to please remember, as a Christian, the basis for your covenant with God is found ONLY in the New Testament which is why it was written and put in book form to begin with.  May God bless you all with His love and may you bless those around you with your love.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016


     I keep vainly searching my head for some type of way to soften the way I say this but I fear it will still be harsh.   Too many folks have attitudes that cause then to be in direct conflict with Jesus' pronouncement of the second most important commandment which is to love one another.  I have and am seeing this attitude in every direction around me and it would seem to be in every aspect of our society.
     Some of the things I have heard:
1.   A Man with a masters degree is overheard joking about the uneducated ignorant farmers in the area.

2.  This same man was later heard disparaging the intelligence of the man he paid 200 bucks to unstop his sewer line.

3.  A women entering a restaurant is over heard saying she was never hard up or stupid enough to have to be a waitress.

4. An owner of a local business says he only hires stupid people because he can get away with only paying them minimum wage.

5.  A black business owner says he only hires white people because he can't trust black people as they all steal from him.

6.  A man paying a contractor to do some remodeling work on his house was heard talking about what a crook the contractor was but he was watching him closely.

7.  A woman who I know has wrecked a great many vehicles complains because no one else on the road knows how to drive.

     These are just a few of the situations I have heard for myself in my sleepy little southern corner of this country.  When you factor in the shootings of police officers as well as the devastating attack on the nightclub in Orlando, the daily confrontations between all types of factions nationwide and even worldwide, our situation is dire indeed.
     Simply put, attitudes must change.  Folks must stop thinking of themselves as better than those around them.  We must understand that "love thy neighbor as thyself" starts with your attitude toward yourself and is best when tempered with a bit of humility.  If you regard someone with disdain because they don't quite reach your formal education level or because they are a different color or culture or any one of a myriad of reasons, you are not following Jesus's directive on love.  I understand the temptation to rile yourself against others when we are whipped into a frenzy by the media or even others on social media.  Then again, those temptations that challenge your attitude also threaten your relationship with God.  We must strive to control those feelings and even pray for God's help in doing so.  Christianity is in a spiraling decline in our country and I believe these attitudes are a direct result of that decline.

Friday, July 1, 2016

Gaming?!?! A Call to Arms

     It seems a lot of folks these days are into gaming.  Playing electronic games of all types is seen virtually everywhere.   Some drift from game to game to have a changing experience.  Some have a few games they play occasionally.  Still others pick one game and immerse themselves.  What I have found amazing is discovering how many people have a positive view of gaming in general.  Over the last few years I have talked to a lot of people and often steered the conversation to gaming just to see how many had a positive outlook.  My guess would be upwards of 90%.  Most of the folks in the negative range of 10% were older.  Many of them much older than I.
     I know one young fellow (I'm going to guess he is in his mid 30's) who spends almost all of his time gaming.  As I understand it, he is playing one game and it seems to have taken him over.  He has so far lost his job, his family, and his home.  He is drifting now from place to place staying with friends but spending most of his time in public wi-fi spots with his tablet and playing his game.  He looks to me to have lost 50 pounds or so and looks far older than his years.  I had known his father for years when he broke down and told me about his son.  I knew his son and had met him on several occasions.  He seemed most amicable and seemed to be quite an intelligent young man.  Rest assured this whole situation was a shocking and eye opening experience for me.
     Not to long ago, we decided on Chinese take-out for supper one evening.  Upon arriving to place our order, we saw a young couple sitting on a bench just outside of the restaurant.  One was looking at a tablet and the other was involved with a rather large cell phone.  We ordered our food and while we waited I walked over and looked out the plate glass window just behind where the couple was sitting.  They were both playing some type of game.  I have no idea how long they stayed because we got our food and left.  What was funny was when we came back a week later to get more Chinese food,  I like to comically say they were still there.  I'm sure it would be more apropos to say they were there again.  My daughter found it humorous when I so profoundly and adamantly  insisted they were "still" there.  By the way, they were still playing games and I will point out I never once saw then communicate with each other.
      I just read a story at ABC News about a man who pinned his six year old son down on the couch by sitting on him while he and his girlfriend played games on the TV.  The boy stopped breathing and died.  Of course the father has been charged.  If the story is still up, you can read about it here.
     My response to all of this is "OH MY LORD IN HEAVEN!  WHAT HAVE WE DONE?".  I don't know how to react.  I am completely dumbfounded.  Granted, I know a great many people who play the occasional game on the internet and are not or don't seem to be adversely affected but what can be done for the ones who are?  The only course of action I see that can be taken is prayer.  I understand addictions of all kinds affect all types of people and as is usually the case, rock bottom must be hit before they ask for help.  This gaming thing seems to me to be an odd addiction I have never even thought of before.  I have simply told the young man I know that I am available if he needs to talk and I have told him I am praying for him.  He has yet to even recognize he has a problem but when he does, I will do my best to help him regain himself.  I would encourage everyone to make it known that you also will be available if someone needs this or any other kind of help.  It is not words but rather deeds and a love of our fellow man that will pave a path for us to God's kingdom.

Friday, June 17, 2016

"My Home Town" or "A Clique of a Different Color"

    As I have said before, I grew up in a small South Carolina town which I have learned over the years was obviously quite different from many other small towns.  The town only had about 800 people and around 700 went to the 2 largest churches, a Methodist church and a Baptist church.  Of the other 100 or so, there were a few Presbyterians and a few families were Jewish.  In a nutshell, almost every person in town went to church on Sundays.  There were black folk and white folk and even some native Americans that all just seemed to co-mingle with not much thought as to any particular attribute other than we were all just plain "folk".   None of this seemed peculiar to me until I left that town at 17 and moved to South Carolina's capital city of Columbia.  While Columbia is not on the same level with cities such as Chicago, New York, or Los Angeles, it still caused quite a bit of culture shock in this impressionable young man.  People were not as friendly to one another as I was used to simply because there were too many of them.  Most of the people who were friendly were so in the cliques they had formed or become a part of such as neighbors, church members, work friends, social club members or whatever.  It was quite a contrast from that to which I was accustomed.
     In all honesty, what shocked me the most was how impolite some people could be.  My third day in the city found me in a stalled traffic situation.  The gentleman in the car in front of me had some problem with the guy beside him to his left.  I could not hear what was going on but I saw him yelling as he threw his umbrella out of his window and at the other car.  It broke the other car's front passenger window.  The fellow in front of me jumped over into the emergency lane and took off.  The other car wiggled and wriggled itself to a point where he could also get into the emergency lane and took out after the first car.  I never knew what was really going on but I saw them again about a quarter of a mile later pulled over by a state trooper.  Granted I felt a little like Gomer Pyle from Mayberry but I was dumbfounded by such behavior.  As the days went on, I began to realize I had led quite a sheltered but extremely lucky childhood.
     It took me until I was in my mid 40's and a lot of trips back home to figure out why there was such a difference in my home town culture and virtually everywhere else I had been.  In my home town, there was a great deal of respect shown for others at all times.  There was also a lot of help given to anyone who found themselves in need.  Folks got together a lot for all types of functions including civic celebrations, holidays, etc...  What I wanted to know was why these things were not to be found elsewhere other than in small cliques here and there.  Upon refection I realized my small town was a small clique.  There were families there that had known and worked with each other for a couple of hundred years.  The second thing that dawned on me was how lucky I was to have grown up in such a situation.  The truth of the matter is that most people that lived and worked in my home town simply loved being there and loved all the people around them.
     I can't really speak of what was concentrated on in the teachings of the churches there but what I can remember is I heard an awful lot about Jesus.   Let me see now.  Jesus, love, peace, serenity, happiness.  Oh my goodness!!!  It almost sounds as if I have hit on a theme.  Isn't it time to get on board?

Sunday, June 5, 2016

God is Good and God is Love

     In a little church I attended for a while, the preacher started every service by saying, "God is good."  The congregation would answer, "All the time."    Then the preacher would say, "All the time" and the congregation would say, "God is good."  I enjoyed this little ritual and it even became a way of greeting between myself and several other church members if I ever saw them away from church.  For me, I think it was just a way of reminding myself that God is indeed good and by being good, He is a God we should love.  That love should be based on His goodness.  All to often, however, that love is based on fear.  It seems to me that fear should not be a motivation for love.  If you love because of fear,  then that love becomes something you feel you must do rather than something you want to do.  Which would you personally rather have, someone who loves you because that's what they want to do or someone who loves you because they are afraid of you?  God is good all the time.  Which do you logically think He would rather have.
     So many churches today hammer it into their congregations that God should be feared.  When Christ said the most important commandment under the law was to love the Lord thy God with all your heart, and all your soul, and all your mind, He was not whispering under His breath that we should be afraid. Jesus' entire ministry was centered around love.  It's amazing the impact He had upon this world with a ministry that barely extended through 3 years.  Even when He was upon the cross in agony, He asked God for forgiveness for those who tortured and persecuted Him.  That is love beyond the capabilities of mere mortal beings but we certainly could use the knowledge of it as an inspiration to let hate and prejudice go.  We could at least try to love.

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Tuesday, May 24, 2016

The Geriatric and the Juvenile Road Trip

     Hello my brothers and sisters.  Just today I returned home from a 5 day excursion with my 7 year old granddaughter, Eve.  (She saw me write this and wants me to point out she is almost 8).  We went first to Stone Mountain, Georgia, which was a first for both of us.  We had a wonderful time there as I watched her wear me out with all the activities in which she took part.  What equally amazed me was the sheer number of people who were also being worn out by watching their children and grand children, who wanted to talk and were hungry for words of encouragement as well as a better understanding of God's role in their lives.  I was wearing a t-shirt that identified me in no way whatsoever but people still came to me and struck up conversations that led to questions about their spirituality and their own relationships with God.  I was almost dumbstruck with the power of God as He led one after the other to me for council and understanding.  There was one especially poignant moment when Eve came running up to me smiling and laughing.  She had just finished an obstacle course type thing where she was hooked to a harness and had to climb along ropes, ladders and boards.  There were several people sitting around me when she ran up all excited about what she had just done.  An elderly woman asked her if she was scared when she was on the ropes.  Eve struck them all dumb when she answered simply, "Of course not.  God was with me and so was my granddaddy."  When she ran off to the next activity, I noticed everyone was simply staring at me incredulously, some with their mouths wide open.  The only thing I could think to say was, God is with us always and she knows that."  With some quick prayer several of them rededicated their lives to God at that moment.
     After Stone Mountain, we set out for northern South Carolina and visited the top of Sassafras Mountain, the highest mountain in the state. (I did not know that until we got there.)  Then we rode for a little into North Carolina until for some reason I felt compelled to head east.  Along the way we ran across one of the mountain streams I had told Eve about pointing out how cold that water was.  She wadded in that water until her feet turned blue and I almost hurt myself laughing.  Afterwards, we headed east.  My sister lives on the opposite side of South Carolina and for some reason I felt compelled to go see her.  Eve jumped at the idea even though she has not seen my sister but once when she was about 3.  A few blocks from my sister's house I called her.  My brother-in-law answered the phone and told me they had just gotten home and were getting the groceries out of the car.  I told him I would just call them back after giving them a chance to get settled.  Needless to say they were quite surprised when we pulled up in their yard.  My brother-in-law has been in quite bad health as of late with a myriad of problems.  Eve seemed to take his mind off all of it as he walked her around their yard telling her about the different plants and trees they have.  They live in the country and are flanked by two huge cornfields about which Eve had 100 questions and William just ate it up.  They chatted like old friends and I think it did him a world of good and my sister agreed.
     After being at my sister's house, Eve and I both agreed it might be time to head home.  By the time we reached home, we had put just over 1000 miles on the van but the story does not end there.  Julie, my daughter and Eve's mother, works third shift so she usually sleeps in the afternoon.  I called her on the way so she could take a nap early and be up to see us when we got home.  I must say it felt good to get home and get that hug.  She sat up with us for a couple of hours and then had no choice but to go to bed.  Eve and I spent 2 hours cleaning out the van and putting everything back in place after our trip .  We had a few things to run to the store for and on the way home she asked if we could eat at Cracker Barrel.  Here is where the story gets interesting again (just to show God wasn't snoozing).  There was one of our local police officers a few tables away having dinner with his wife and son.  When I saw him I did something I often do.  I went to him, apologized for disturbing him, asked to shake his hand and thanked him for his selfless service.  It was when I returned to my seat I did something I don't normally do and at the time I really wasn't sure why I felt so compelled.  I called my server over, asked her to go to the policeman's server and get his bill and bring it to me but to please have her tell the officer his families meal was simply on the house.  When he and his family had finished, he came to my table and told me he knew that was me and thanked me.  He told me he was mostly just a part time police officer because he was also a pastor.  He thanked me profusely but at the same time he implored me to give him the bill.  I politely refused and thanked him again for his service pointing out it was now meant for both of his jobs. 
     When he left, and elderly couple rose and came to our table.  She pointed to the cross around my neck and with a somewhat matter of fact tone of voice, she pointed to the cross and said, " You mean that thing don't you?"  My answer was simply, "Every second of every day".  She told me she had been ill for some time and at one point it became quite serious and she became very afraid.  It was then she remembered to pray and pray she did.  From that day forward she began to improve and today was the first time in quite a while she had been able to leave the house.  I asked her how she had prayed and what made her so sure of God's hand in her mending.  She told me her prayers were not for health but rather for acceptance of God's will and the strength to cope with His decision.  As for why she was so sure, she said her greatest single instance of improvement came immediately after her very first prayer.  Pains in different parts of her body that had been plaguing her simply went away.  Her shortness of breath was greatly improved and while she was still very weak, she could feel her strength returning.  Bear in mind she had been down and out for over a month and a half.  That first prayer was 2 days ago.  She asked me to pray for her continued improvement and to pray she would have the strength to face the hardship she knew she might face by dedicating her life to God.
     When they were gone, Eve and I finished our supper and she wanted to go look at the toys in the Cracker Barrel Store.  I went to pay the bill as she headed for the toy section.  On my way to her a gentleman approached me and told me with somewhat of a snicker that he had witnessed my supper.  He said it was witnessing such events that kept his faith strong and he asked me if I would mind if he told people about all he had witnessed.  Of course I told him I had no objection.  With that he reached out and hugged me, thanked me, and hurried away.
     I must say it has been quite a few days and it has also been a reminder I need to be out and about much more than I have been lately.  I must confess my health has not been at it's pinnacle as of late and I let it hold me down a bit.  When I came to that realization, guess what!  You got it!  Prayer!!!  And I can't believe how much better I feel right now.  With all this said, let me leave you with something I read on a coffee cup at Cracker Barrel.
                                          May love surround you. 
                                          May happiness be before you. 
                                          May trouble be behind you and
                                          may God be within you.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

A Threat to Christianity

     Has over 2000 years of growth for Christianity come to an end?  It would seem Christians are being attacked from every direction.  I fear a time very soon when in our country it will be considered politically incorrect to talk about or even mention our faith.  In every corner of our country I hear stories of how this is taking place and I have spent many hours in prayer seeking answers as to why and I believe I know the answer.  The funny thing is I have talked about the problem and the answer in many cases in this blog and never really put my finger on it....until now.
     The greatest threat to Christianity has proven to be Christians themselves.  All Christians are taught from the beginning to be strong in their convictions.  This lesson seems to manifest intolerance and an inability to see others as our brothers and sisters but rather as adversaries who don't share with us the same exact convictions.
     Anyone who is reading this, should have also read by now the entry entitled "God, the Undeniable Logic".  Christians have allowed themselves to be conflicted by the messages in different parts of the Bible.  A few  examples:  The old testament teaches and eye for an eye while the new testament teaches us to turn the other cheek.  The old testament teaches that if a man should sleep with a man as with a woman, he should be put to death while the new testament teaches us to love one another.  The old testament teaches us that God is a vengeful God while the new testament teaches us that God is love.
     I will readily admit there are some beautiful stories and passages in the old testament.  All of it, however, was written about and before the coming of Jesus Christ who came to set things right.  He brought a new message of love to the people and implored us to be like Him so we may come to better know God.  How is  it that so many Christians are so conflicted about the differences in these books and are not even aware of it?  It's almost as if they feel one way reading one passage and then they compartmentalize that feeling and change instantly when reading another.
I have come to the point in my life that when I advise a new Christian, I try to steer them away from the old testament in order to avoid the confusion.  I simply can not understand how someone can hold firm to many of the lessons in the old testament and still hold firm to the two most important commandments as given to us by Jesus.  Those are to love God and love each other.
     Christian churches want to grow but yet many are preaching the very intolerance that eventually pushes people away from the church.  It is time for Christians to get their priorities straight.  If you want to be the kind of Christian that Jesus Christ wanted us to be, then it is time to follow His examples and His teachings.  When Jesus came upon the prostitute about to be stoned to death, He simply said, "Let ye among you who is without sin cast the first stone."  If the Christian church wants to continue to grow, it must teach its followers to stop throwing those stones.  We must teach people the light of love rather than the darkness of intolerance.

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Sunday, April 17, 2016

The Challenge Presented By The Changing Times

     Time brings with it so many changes.  I remember hearing the old folks talk when I was small.  They talked about when they got their first car, back then known as a horseless carriage.  They spoke of getting electricity and an electric ice box and once they had it how much as children they missed running along beside the horse pulled ice wagon that used to deliver ice every other day.  They talked of all the kids taking a bath every Saturday night so they didn't smell bad in church the next day.  They all used the same bath water.  It seems Daddy got the water first then Mama and then the kids starting with the oldest first.  My mother had 8 brothers and sisters so I'm pretty sure that bath water was mighty nasty when they got to the last youngun.  I thought it was awful when they talked about that bath but I really enjoyed some of their other stories.  One of my favorites was how they got a radio after they got electricity.  They used to sit together every night as a family and listen to stories brought to them courtesy of that newfangled RCA radio and those radio waves.  What joy they had in such a simple life.  My how times have changed.
     Some of the oldest folks back then didn't have much of an education and most of them had never read very much.  By the same token almost all of them had one book they prized and almost every one of them had read it cover to cover.  Of course that book was The Bible.  Bible salesmen used to come around periodically and that's when folks got the new ones for the kids that didn't have one or to replace the ones they had handed down to the kids.  The younguns thought it a pretty special time when they reached an age old enough to have their own Bible.  Again I say, "My!  How times have changed".
     In this day and age we now face, it's a daily challenge to follow the example set by Jesus to love one another.  Ten minutes of listening to the daily news or reading a newspaper can sure put a lot of pressure on that endeavor.  What are we suppose to feel about ISIS as they murder fellow Christians?  What are we suppose to feel about the deranged young man who goes into a church and murders those who have come to worship?  How are we suppose to deal with feelings about the man who does the same to our young people in schools?  And all that just scratches the surface.  It's hard to even talk about the people running for the office of president.  Then there is abortion, gay rights, transgender rights, drugs, and OH MY the list could just go on forever.  Life will never again be as simple as it once was and at the same time we hope we never have to be as deprived as folks were back then.  I, for one, really like clean bath water.
     So what do we do?  The answer is the same it has always been even if actually following through is much harder.  Jesus himself said the most important thing to do is to love.  Love God and love each other.  I pray every night for the leaders of ISIS.  I ask God to show them love and show them what is right.  I pray for Trump, Cruz, Clinton, and Sanders.  I ask God to show them a path of righteousness.  I even pray for Satan.  He once lived with and loved God but he fell away.  Imagine what the world would be like if God could get Satan back in His fold.
     What do I hear most often when I tell folks these things.  I'm idealistic.  I'm naive.  People have even called me unworldly and ignorant but you know what?  When I lay down at night to sleep after those prayers, I have a smile on my face and there is no doubt in my mind God is right there in my room with me watching over me as I sleep.  I can't think of a better way to get a good night's sleep.