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