MASTER CLOCKMAKER?

MY FRIEND, YOU MUST BELIEVE ME – you may think God is nothing more than a master clockmaker who wound you up and walked away.  Not so! There is an omnipotent, spiritual being out there, and right here, who is softly and tenderly waiting to wrap his arms around you. 

On the other hand, the thief’s plan  (Satan) is to steal your joy, kill your hope and extinguish the love of God in your life. When all things are beautiful in your life you may say, “Jesus loves me this I know!” But when all hell breaks loose you say, “IF God is this, or IF he is that ….”  You may even ask why. That’s ok. Jesus did the same thing. “My God. Why have you forsaken me?”

Somehow, someway you were taught that you were only loved if you were a nice little girl or boy and “keep your mouth shut.” You turned that same punitive love toward God, so that if you found a parking place it meant God loved you.  If you didn’t find one, God hated you; or that there is no God. God does not always punish bad people and he doesn’t always make wonderful things happen to good people. Your team does not always win and you may never get rich. The Word of God teaches us that faith is the victory through thick and thin. 

“‘My purpose,’ said Jesus, ‘is to give you a rich and satisfying life [through faith; not because you will never have anything bad happen nor because you are healthy,  wealthy and wise]. ‘I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd sacrifices his life for the sheep. A hired hand will run when he sees a wolf coming. He will abandon the sheep because they don’t belong to him and he isn’t their shepherd. And so the wolf attacks them and scatters the flock.’”         John‬ ‭10:10-12‬ ‭(nlt)

“But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen you and protect you from the evil one.”‭‭        2 Thessalonians‬ ‭3:3‬ ‭(niv)

 

The Good Life

OK. HERE I AM WITH A MINI ANTHOLOGY [whatever that is]!
Years ago, I was the executive assistant to a man who was the largest contributor to a major political party in a certain state [left-wing, of course]. Let’s face it – I had just come out of the ministry and now I was associating with …, well, you know, The Left!  
 
I needed a whole new wardrobe, someone to watch over my kids and a different way of thinking.  It seemed my future as it had been from  youth was totally upended.  To put it another way, the rug had been pulled out from underneath me, albeit floating in money. 
For many years my life had been spent associating with church people, living from hand to mouth financially and always thinking “what will other people think?” Now I had money, associating with well known people and in many cases with the rich and famous; the political class, the unbelievably wealthy and the Hollywood crowd. The biggest issue, however, was the separation from the church culture.   The people in the Hollywood/monied/political world seemed to be free of restraint. They talked freely, joked raucously, and laughed without restraint (some were irritating).  And I noticed something else – they had no need to secretly gossip. They just blurted it out!
There WERE A COUPLE OF THINGS that bound them all together – well 90% of them – IDEOLOGY. 
 
Yes, I know many of them were terribly insecure even though they may have been rich and famous.  But that yawning and gnawing skepticism of anything related to “America the Beautiful” and/or Evangelical Christianity got on my nerves.  It was all about making deals and how to screw their foes  (and in some cases, those perceived to be below them). I have often stated that arrogance should have been included in The Ten Commandments.  I’ll admit, sitting next to movie and TV stars, politicians of note, and spending the night in the mansions of the internationally known,  was somewhat heady.
On the other hand, “what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul.” (Mark 8:36)
                      🎼🎶🎹                               
I’m telling you, when Jesus brings peace to your heart, the lifestyle of this world will never satisfy! My mother sang in church, “I’d rather have Jesus than silver or gold;
I’d rather be His than have riches untold; I’d rather have Jesus than houses or lands; I’d rather be led by His nail-pierced hand “Than to be the king of a vast domain Or be held in sin’s dread sway; I’d rather have Jesus than anything this old world affords today.”
(Rhea Miller)

STUPID

STUPID – we could reasonably state that being stupid or doing stupid things is a lack of intelligence.  A person who has not developed the skill of self control is stupid or maybe we could say that a stupid person has little self control.

When smart people do stupid things they may not be so smart after all.  Why do we think they are smart?  As a general rule, we define a smart person as one who has high IQ or is talented. We may think they are smart if they are articulate or have a great personality or any combination of the above.  It may be that they have the ability to make others think they are smart or that they have been told or convinced they are smart.

Some are tall, dark and handsome therefore …

Others have athletic or musical skills, therefore they have come to think they are elite.  Still others have been promoted to places of prominence and have come to think of themselves as a cut above.

Tucker Carlson wrote in his book, “Ship of Fools,” “The path to the American elite has been well marked for decades: Perform well on standardized tests, win admission to an elite school, enter one of a handful of elite professions, settle in a handful of elite zip codes, marry a fellow elite, and reproduce.” (pg. 14)

Many of the foregoing will do stupid things because they haven’t developed the cognitive ability of decision-making.  The emotional, intellectual and maturity factor have not interfaced.

There was a guy who went to a Christian college. For some reason he got the reputation of belonging to that envied “upper” crowd.  Since it was necessary to have an “uppity” girl friend, he  sought one out. She hung out with a few other “uppitytight” kids because her Daddy was some kind of big-shot. For all practical purposes the lower kids were not allowed to look them in the eye.

As a senior, he was chosen to be in the chosen few to receive honors.  However, he was caught with his “uppity” girlfriend in a compromising situation in the backseat of her car. It really didn’t matter because he was now securely ensconced in the elite club. The escape from punishment served only to reinforce his conviction that he was exceptional and deserved to be there.

From there he wiggled his way into an elite school of higher learning where he wormed his way into politics. From there he was led to believe he was something special, that is, until he ran for President of the United States.  It was there that he did something stupid by challenging the media to follow him around if they didn’t believe him.  They did. They caught him on a boat “monkeying” around. His stupidity did him in!

He may have been smart – I don’t know. He may have been a Christian or a “political” Christian or leaned that way.  As Johnny Mathis sang, “Its not for me to say.”  After all those years of preparation… down the toilet!

The future Apostle Peter was a great man and future Bishop of Rome, but he cut a guy’s ear off shortly before the greatest event in history took place. Was he  Christian?  Yes!  Was he stupid. Yes!

Have I done stupid things?  YES!

Have you done stupid things? YES!

Can we overcome our stupidities?

YES!

Is life worth living after the embarrassment of our screwups?

YES, IF WE SURRENDER AND NEVER GIVE UP!

🎼🎶🎹

“My hope is built on nothing less

than Jesus’ blood and righteousness;

I dare not trust the sweetest frame,

but wholly lean on Jesus’ name.

“On Christ, the solid rock, I stand;

all other ground is sinking sand,

all other ground is sinking sand.”

(Edward Mote)

THE ECCLESIA

BE CAREFUL, VERY CAREFUL in choosing who and what to believe!   The early ecclesia, the church, followers of Jesus the Messiah, were deceived following the death and resurrection of Christ as many are deceived today.   Today, as in the early church, many will chase after money as their god, or try to redefine the person of Jesus and/or confuse people with rules and laws building mountains of behavioral activities.

There are those today who “create” a new twist to belief as in “The ‘Church’ of Scientology,” the prosperity gospel, and  “Think and Grow Rich” preaching.  

One of the most insidiously half religious-half secular teachings is the New Age “theology.”  The New Age preaching infects the mind with little cherubs flying around leading the gullible into happy-happy thoughts, finding eternal bliss in yoga, positive thinking and the avoidance of milk and meat. New Agers have no problem with smoking a roach, but “god-hep-yew-if-yew-smoke-tobacco-around-me.” Secondhand smoke is bad!

New Age preachers encourage followers to find salvation (although that word is never used) in the clouds, everything of beauty, happy TV shows and promises, and they tell us that we’ll never be sick or poor. Their Paradise ministries tell us we “deserve” the very best of health and wealth.    For god-sake, don’t mention Jesus or Blood or sacrifice or discipleship or hell or that Jesus is the only “way and the truth and the life. NO ONE comes to the Father except through me.”     John 14:6 (niv)

My friend, this may sound offensive, but we don’t deserve anything apart from the sacrificial Blood of God in the flesh,  Jesus Christ.

I remember the day when pastors preached the Word. They were instant in season and out of season. They reproved, rebuked and exhorted with long-suffering and doctrine.  Can you?  I remember the congregation singing “All Hail the Power of Jesus Name” and “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God.” Do you? And what about children in Sunday School memorizing the 23rd Psalm?  Now we have  7/11 songs  (7 words repeated 11 times or vice versa). There was a time when everyone (including the pastor) showed respect to the House of God by the way they conducted themselves in dress and conduct.  

The Apostle Paul wrote, “I can’t believe your fickleness—how easily you have turned traitor to him who called you by the grace of Christ by embracing a variant message! It is not a minor variation, you know; it is completely other, an alien message, a no-message, a lie about God. Those who are provoking this agitation among you are turning the Message of Christ on its head. Let me be blunt: If one of us—even if an angel from heaven!—were to preach something other than what we preached originally, let him be cursed. I said it once; I’ll say it again: If anyone, regardless of reputation or credentials, preaches something other than what you received originally, let him be cursed.”      Galatians 1:6-9

“But there were also lying prophets among the people then, just as there will be lying religious teachers among you. They’ll smuggle in destructive divisions, pitting you against each other—biting the hand of the One who gave them a chance to have their lives back! They’ve put themselves on a fast downhill slide to destruction, but not before they recruit a crowd of mixed-up followers who can’t tell right from wrong. But there were also lying prophets among the people then, just as there will be lying religious teachers among you. They’ll smuggle in destructive divisions, pitting you against each other—biting the hand of the One who gave them a chance to have their lives back! They’ve put themselves on a fast downhill slide to destruction, but not before they recruit a crowd of mixed-up followers who can’t tell right from wrong. They give the way of truth a bad name. They’re only out for themselves. They’ll say anything, anything, that sounds good to exploit you. They won’t, of course, get by with it. They’ll come to a bad end, for God has never just stood by and let that kind of thing go on.”            2 Peter 2:1-2 (msg)

What the Hell!

WHY HELL?  SOME EVEN SAY, “What the hell!”  or “Hell no.”  IS HELL DRACONIAN?  There’s a little town on Grande Cayman Island named Hell.  They have a Post Office there so that you can mail a card to friends and family from HELL.  Is there a real hell?

Will that teenager who lied about the scratch he made on the family car be in the same Hell-cell as the serial killer or crooked politician? How about the bookkeeper who pilfered $50 from her employer’s petty cash fund?  What if you could not wrap your mind around the idea of faith?

Hell is thrown around in daily conversation as in, “What the hell …?”  Or “That’s a hella-of-a  …  blah, blah.”  If you use hell as a cuss word will you go to Hell?

It is rather shocking that Pope Francis recently declared (although the Vatican scrambled all over themselves to explain), “those who do not repent and cannot therefore be forgiven disappear. There is no hell, there is the disappearance of sinful souls.” (CNS News, March 29,2018)  I’m confused.  Is it is or is it ain’t?  Although the Pope was not speaking ex cathedra, he has a lot of influence around the world.  What are we to believe?

In the Bible there are many different words or phrases for Hell, – the place of the damned.  They are the grave, Gehenna, Hades, Sheol, Lake of Fire, the Second Death and Eternal Damnation.  All of these contravene what the Pope seemed to be preaching.  Everything Jesus said had meaning – nothing casually said, or off the wall. Jesus said,

“Even now the ax of God’s judgment is poised, ready to sever the roots of the trees. Yes, every tree that does not produce good fruit will be chopped down and thrown into the fire.”

Matthew 3:10 (nlt)

Unbelief and violating the law of God are clearly two transgressions that will cause one to exist in hell forever and ever.  Is God through Christ violating his own basic tenant of love by assigning someone to hell forever and ever for getting mad at the preacher, or for hiding the cookie (so to speak), or stealing a shirt in the store or adultery?  What about the woman at the well or the woman caught in adultery?  Jesus uses the word hell in conjunction with adultery in Matthew 5:28, but widens the scope to anything that causes separation from God in vv. 29-30.  But it is interesting that he didn’t specifically use the word hell when listing some other behaviors such as divorce, violating an oath, eye for eye, etc.

What is the best way for the demons of hell to get us into hell?

ENOUGH! ENOUGH!  Is Hell real or not?  Will you go to Hell where you will burn in punishment forever and ever?  Some people will say that their life is a living Hell.  No way!  From Paul and Silas to the Apostle Peter who was crucified upside-down, to the Apostle Paul who was killed by Ceasar to the multiplied millions of Christians killed for their faith, Hell seemed like their experience on earth was like Hell.  But the Hell referred to in Scripture seems to be a place beyond human comprehension.

The place to clarify this is THE WORD of God, the Bible.

“‘But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars—they will be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.’”

Revelation 21:8 (niv)

II Peter 2:4 – “For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but sent them to hell, putting them in chains of darkness to be held for judgment.”

Matthew 5:29 – It’s better for you to gouge out your own eye “than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.”  Plus Matthew 5:30, 10:28, 18:9, 23:15, Mark 9:43, 47, 45 and Luke 12:5

James 3:6 – The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil …, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.”

Matthew 5: 22 – “And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ Will be in danger of the fire of hell.”

Over and over, more times than space is written here, it is mentioned about going down to the realm of the dead, etc.

“Anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire.”       Revelation 20:15

THE REST OF THE STORY IS:

“And since we have been made right in God’s sight by the blood of Christ, he will certainly save us from God’s condemnation.”

Romans 5:9 (nlt)

MY YEARNING IS FOR THAT ETERNAL PLACE WHERE GOD IS!  How about you?

🎼🎶🎹

“Softly and tenderly Jesus is calling

Calling for you and for me

See on the portals He’s waiting and watching

Watching for you and for me

“Come home, come home

Ye who are weary come home

Earnestly, tenderly Jesus is calling

Calling, “O sinner come home”

“O for the wonderful love He has promised

Promised for you and for me

Though we have sinned He has mercy and pardon

Pardon for you and for me. “

(Will L. Thompson)..

Degrees of Christian

HE SAID, “O I’M A CHRISTIAN ALRIGHT, but not a very good one.”  Is there a good, bad or ugly Christian?  I didn’t know that there were degrees in the Christian life; 51% Christian, 72% Christian – how ’bout the 80/20 rule?

The Pharisees had 613 laws and all of them were absolutely required. There were 365 negative commandments, which coincides with the number of days in the solar year, and the positive commandments number 248, a number ascribed to the number of bones and main organs in the human body.  For you folks out there in “churchy-land,” all 613 laws must be adhered to or “sorry, Charley, you ain’t got it!”

The way I understand it, you either is is or you ain’t ain’t!

“The law code started out as an excellent piece of work. … The law code, instead of being used to guide me, was used to seduce me. … The very command that was supposed to guide me into life was cleverly used to trip me up, throwing me headlong.”

Romans 7:8-11

“The law was without power, because the law was made weak by our sinful selves. But God did what the law could not do. HE SENT HIS OWN SON TO EARTH with the same human life that others use for sin. By sending his Son to be an offering for sin, God used a human life to destroy sin.”

Romans 8:3

Here’s what I would suggest: throw 100% of your life into the arms of Christ, then “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.”

2 Peter 3:18

Dancing Through the Tulips

IF ALL YOU NEED TO DO IS think positive thoughts, eat broccoli, associate with happy people, make good money, listen to uplifting sermons, live in an upperclass part of town, read possibility books, … and BTW, don’t forget to plant your “seed money” with some TV preacher in the hope of being healthy, wealthy and wise [and helping him buy his new jet airplane],   WHY THEN, MY DEAR FRIEND –

DO YOU NEED GOD?

I agree with those who say that it is not necessary to have God in your life to be rich and happy happy!  Believe it or not, lots of money may be, could be satisfying … to a degree.  Reading positive books and attending  inspirational and motivational seminars/sermons can be inspiritive. You can live next door to a family with 7 beautiful kids, live in a 12,000 square foot home and make a ton of money, and you can be happy as you drive up to the portico of a prominent church with thousands of attendees in your European built car, … and still be lost!

As Jesus said, “What will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?” (Mark 8:36)

You and I need God to give us liberty in our inner self.  All of us have probably known or heard of someone who had everything that this world could give, and yet were lost in their soul.  They spent their time with money, fame and fortune …; just before they committed suicide!  Many of those happy happy people turn to alcohol, drugs and prostitutes.  Hello out there!

Obviously, there are many who live their entire life dancing through the tulips.  You may be one of those.  Congratulations.  You may never need God to help you live an upper class life.

What happens thereafter …?

“Jesus said, ‘I AM the bread that gives life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.’”

John 6:35 (ncv)

“‘Whoever drinks the water I give will never be thirsty. The water I give will become a spring of water gushing up inside that person, giving eternal life.’”

John 4:14 (ncv)

🎼🎶🎹

“All that I need He will always be,

All that I need till His face I see,

All that I need thro’ eternity.

Jesus is all I need.”

(James Rowe)

WINTER

ITS 3am. COLD.  FOGGY.  WINTER.  George Bush is gone at 94.  My good friend, Rev. Les Shelton, passed away at 78.  It’s winter.  Long ago, Willie Nelson wrote: “Ain’t it funny how time slips away.”  Yes, it’s winter.  It caught me off guard – before I knew what was happening.  It makes no difference that Willie also wrote,  “I’d trade all my tomorrows for just one yesterday,” because my future is as bright as the promises of God. As is the case with many of us, part of my past was painful.  If I had it to do over I would change a few things.  I shoulda, coulda, woulda. Isn’t that the case with most of us?

“But now the days grow short

I’m in the [winter] of the year

And now I think of my life as ‘vintage wine

from fine old kegs,

from the brim to the dregs.’”

Forgetting the past, you can

“Take this old world, but give me Jesus;

In His cross my trust shall be,

Til, with clearer, brighter vision,

Face to face my Lord I see.”

(Fanny Crosby)

It’s still winter.  It was just yesterday …; seems yesterday  I was so immature – high school, college, embarking in a fragile canoe called Life.  I held my son in loving arms as he looked at me with blue eyes.  I said to him, “My Son. I love you so much.” He looked at me as though he answered, “I love you, too.” Time caught me. Where did the years go?

And then in El Paso, living on a dirt road, two miles from Juarez, Mexico.  My precious daughter caught her breath, laboring as though she would die with Hyaline Membrane Disease.  No money to pay for hospital care. Would she be left to die?  Would it be winter in springtime?

The grunt work chased me.

As a breath of fresh air in springtime hope found me in the midst of my slog.  O my-my  yes!

I knew I was Blood-bought.   The One who had a plan, had a plan!

“Like the sunshine after rain,

Like a rest that follows pain,

Like a hope returned again,

Is the peace that Jesus gives.”

(Haldor Lillenas)

Springtime came in the form of an addition to my son and daughter.

Carole brought her two amazing little guys, 6 & 3, joining us making a family unit of six.  It was Spring!

Hopes and dreams anew. But where did the years go?

Yet in a way, it seems like eons ago, and I wonder where all the years went. I know that I lived them all. I have glimpses of how it was back then and of all my hopes and dreams. But, here it is… the winter of my life and it caught  me by surprise…How did I get here so fast? Where did the years go?  Where did my youth go?

I well remember seeing older people through the years and thinking that those old people were years away from me and that winter was so far off.  I could not fathom it or imagine what it would be like.

But, here it is, … my friends are retired and gray… they move slower and I see an older person now.  Some are in better and some worse shape than I …, but I see a change. They’re not like the ones I remember who were young and vibrant … but, like me, their age is beginning to show and we are now those older folks that we used to see and never thought we’d be.

Each day now, I find that finding my way to the shower takes concerted effort.   Taking a nap is not a treat anymore.. it’s mandatory because if I don’t on my own free will, I just fall asleep where I sit!

And so … now I enter into this new season of my life unprepared for all the aches and pains and the loss of strength and ability to go and do things that I wish I had done but never did!

Yes, I have regrets. There are things I wish I hadn’t done… things I should have done, but indeed, there are many things I’m happy to have done. It’s all in a lifetime.

If you’re not in your winter yet … let me remind you, it will be here faster than you think. Whatever you would like to accomplish in your life, please do it quickly! Don’t put things off too long! Life goes by quickly.  Do what you can today, as you can never be sure whether this is your winter or not! You have no promise that you will see all the seasons of your life ….  Squeeze the sweet juice of today. Say all the things you want your loved ones to remember, “and make the world go away.”

“‘I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.’”

John 14:27 (nlt)

 

CONQUERORS!

WHEN IN A FOOTBALL GAME, your team makes a touchdown in the first 30 seconds and goes on to win 47 to 3, you could rightly say that you were more than a conqueror.  The other team might have intercepted a pass, or tackled your quarterback, or pushed your team back to your 10 yard line, but your team never! gave! up!  Got it?!  47-3!

EL SHADDAI (The God who can!) has given you victory over those things that have torn your soul into pieces. He has healed, protected, harmonized and surrounded you with love.  He has vanquished your enemies!  You are MORE than a conqueror. Grab ahold of it WITH CONFIDENT FAITH.

“In all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.”

Romans 8:37 (niv)