Monday, July 23, 2012

Cutting throats with whisperings

"Why do you listen when men say, `David is bent on harming you?'" (1 Samuel 24:9); "Brothers, do not slander one another" (James 4:11).

The accusers of the brethren abound. "Why do you listen when men say...?" We are not even to lend an ear to another's vicious tongue. "When will talkers refrain from evil speaking? When listeners refrain from evil hearing" (Hare).

For what comfort it can give us, even Jesus was maligned. He was accused of :

1) keeping bad company: "Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors?" (Matthew 9:11);

2) gluttony and drunkenness: "The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, `Here is a glutton and a drunkard" (Matthew 11:19);

3) blasphemy: "He has spoken blasphemy! Why do we need any more witnesses?" (Matthew 26:65);

4) insanity: "When his family heard about this, they went to take charge of him, for they said, `He is out of his mind'" (Mark 3:21);

5) being possessed: "`You are demon-possessed,' the crowd answered" (John 7:20);

6) breaking the Sabbath: "This man is not from God, for he does not keep the Sabbath" (John 9:16);

7) treason: "Anyone who claims to be king opposes Caesar" (John 10:20).

In the dark of present-day inclinations to skewer every public figure, living and dead, Joseph Addison's comment is quite interesting: "There is nothing that more betrays a base ungenerous spirit than the giving of secret stabs to a man's reputation. Lampoons and satires, that are written with wit and spirit, are like poisoned darts, which not only inflict a wound, but make it incurable."

Ben Jonson said that "we cut men's throats with whisperings." A person bleeds when another repeatedly punctures his or her reputation. What else can we expect? "But he who guards his mouth and his tongue keeps himself from calamity" (Proverbs 21:23). He also keeps another from tragedy.

Blessed are they....

Blessed are they who serve unselfishly, for they shall be esteemed and honored.  

Blessed are they who join with others to accomplish goals and dreams, for they shall be rewarded with abiding love and friendship.  

Blessed are they who listen, for they shall be sought out and admired above all others.  

Blessed are they who do not strive to dominate, for they shall win everlasting cooperation, warmth, and companionship.  

Blessed are they who do not use love and companionship for ulterior purposes, for they shall be cherished as valued companions.

Blessed are they who do not look for perfection in others, for they shall be accepted and loved.  

Blessed are they who see potential in others, for they shall be stimulating and attractive companions.  

Blessed are they who settle differences as they arise, for they shall keep relationships free from misunderstandings.  

Blessed are they who refuse to look for slights, for they shall feel loved and secure.  

Blessed are they who help others help themselves, for they shall be loved and admired as wise mentors.  

By Ken Standly, From This High Place: Reflections on living a life of courage and purpose.

Go on, be happy! - Anonymous

We convince ourselves that life will be better after we get married, have a baby, then another. Then we are frustrated that the kids aren't old enough and we'll be more content when they are. After that, we're frustrated that we have teenagers to deal with. We will certainly be happy when they are out of that stage. We tell ourselves that our life will be complete when our spouse gets his or her act together, when we get a nicer car, are able to go on a nice vacation, or when we retire.

The truth is, there's no better time to be happy than right now. If not now, when? Your life will always be filled with challenges. It's best to admit this to yourself and decide to be happy anyway. Happiness is the way. So, treasure every moment that you have and treasure it more because you shared it with someone special, special enough to spend your time with...and remember that time waits for no one.

So, stop waiting

--until your car or home is paid off
--until you get a new car or home
--until your kids leave the house
--until you go back to school
--until you lose ten pounds
--until you gain ten pounds
--until you finish school
--until you get a divorce
--until you get married
--until you have kids
--until you retire
--until summer
--until spring
--until winter
--until fall
--until you die

There is no better time than right now to be happy. Happiness is a journey, not a destination. Author Unknown.

The Big Rocks in our Life


Then he asked the group once more, "Is the jar full?
Story Submitted by
Kasha Linka
One day an expert on time management was speaking to a group of business students and, to drive home a point, used an illustration those students will never forget.

As this man stood in front of the group of high-powered overachievers he said, "Okay, time for a quiz."

Then he pulled out a one-gallon, wide-mouthed mason jar and set it on a table in front of him. Then he produced about a dozen fist-sized rocks and carefully placed them, one at a time, into the jar. When the jar was filled to the top and no more rocks would fit inside, he asked, "Is this jar full?" Everyone in the class said, "Yes."

Then he said, "Really?"

He reached under the table and pulled out a bucket of gravel. Then he dumped some gravel in and shook the jar causing pieces of gravel to work themselves down into the spaces between the big rocks. Then he asked the group once more, "Is the jar full?"

By this time the class was onto him. "Probably not," one of them answered. "Good!" he replied.

He reached under the table and brought out a bucket of sand. He started dumping the sand in and it went into all the spaces left between the rocks and the gravel.

Once more he asked the question, "Is this jar full?"

"No!" the class shouted. Once again he said, "Good!"

Then he grabbed a pitcher of water and began to pour it in until the jar was filled to the brim. Then he looked up at the class and asked, "What is the point of this illustration?"

One eager beaver raised his hand and said, "The point is, no matter how full your schedule is, if you try really hard, you can always fit some more things into it!"

"No," the speaker replied, "that's not the point. The truth this illustration teaches us is: If you don't put the big rocks in first, you'll never get them in at all."

What are the 'big rocks' in your life? A project that YOU want to accomplish? Time with your loved ones? Your faith, your education, your finances? A cause? Teaching or mentoring others? Remember to put these BIG ROCKS in first or you'll never get them in at all. ---

So, tonight or in the morning when you are reflecting on this short story, ask yourself this question: What are the 'big rocks' in my life or business? Then, put those in your jar first.



Love is Kind

"Love is kind" 1
Corinthians 13:4
"People don't care how much you know until they know how much you care." Anonymous. "Do not say to your neighbor, `Come back later; I'll give it tomorrow' – when you now have it with you" (Proverbs 3:28). Compassion cannot be timed. "Too little, too late" is a tragic assessment of damaged friendship. There is a proper time for impulsiveness. When we feel compelled to make a call or to take up a worthwhile cause, there is no time, literally, like the present to make of life a present to others.

Sometimes we weigh an action on a scale of what we call common sense until it becomes such a heavy burden and so one-sided that we decide we can't help. "Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ" (Galatians 6:2). Burdens come in all sizes and shapes. They may seem to be – indeed, often are – unfair burdens, both for ourselves and others. But we are all dust and the environment in which we all live is polluted and our loved ones die always at a bad time and tornadoes and hurricanes always strike at inopportune times. We're all in the same rocking boat of a world; therefore these are the only times we have to take advantage of our opportunities to give others God's love and ours.

"The king asked, `Is there no one still left in the house of Saul to whom I can show God's kindness?'" (2 Samuel 9:3). David was concerned about showing compassion because of his great love for Jonathan, Saul's son. And it was God's kindness he wanted to share, so his motivation was pure.

Kin Hubbard leaves us this thought, "Kindness goes a long ways lots of times when it ought to stay at home." How hard it is to love the unlovable, especially the home folks. The humorous footnote to this is that our family members may well feel the same way about us!

Sometimes we weigh an action on a scale of what we call common sense until it becomes such a heavy burden and so one-sided that we decide we can't help.

The Pledge of Allegiance


"As you my know, I spent five and one half years as a prisoner of war during the Vietnam War. In the early years of our imprisonment, the NVA kept up in solitary confinement or two or three to a cell.
In 1971 the NVA moved us from these conditions of isolation into large rooms with as many as 30 to 40 men to a room. This was, as you can imagine, a wonderful change and was a direct result of the efforts of millions of Americans on behalf of a few hundred POW'S 10,000 miles from home.
One of the men who moved into my room was a young man named Mike Christian. Mike came from a small town near Selma, Alabama. He didn't wear a pair of shoes until he was 13 years old. At 17, he enlisted in the U.S. Navy. He later earned a commission by going to Officer Training School. Then he became a Naval Flight Officer and was shot down and captured in 1967. Mike had a keen appreciation of the opportunities this country and our military provide for people who want to work and want to succeed.
As part of the change in treatment, the Vietnamese allowed some prisoners to receive packages from home. In some of these packages were handkerchies, scarves and other items of clothing. Mike got himself a bamboo needle. Over a period of a couple of months, he created an American flag and sewed it on the inside of his shirt. Every afternoon, before we had a bowl of soup, we would hang Mike's shirt on the wall of the cell and say the Pledge of Allegiance.
I know the Pledge of Allegiance may not seem the most important part of our day now, but I can assure you that in that stark cell it was indeed the most important and meaningful event.
One day the Vietnamese searched our cell, as they did periodically, and discovered Mike's shirt with the flag sewn inside, and removed it. That evening they returned, opened the door of the cell, and for the benefit of all of us, beat Mike Christian severely for the next couple of hours. Then, they opened the door of the cell and threw him in. We cleaned him up as well as we could.
The cell in which we lived had a concrete slab in the middle on which we slept. Four naked light bulbs hung in each corner of the room. As I said, we tried to clean up Mike as well as we could.
After the excitement died down, I looked in the corner of the room and sitting there beneath that dim light bulb with a piece of red cloth, another shirt and his bamboo needle, was my friend, Mike Christian. He was sitting there with his eyes almost shut from the beating he had received, making another American flag. He was not making the flag because it made Mike Christian feel better. He was making that flag because he knew how important it was to us to be able to Pledge our Allegiance to our flag and country.
So the next time you say the Pledge of Allegiance, you must never forget the sacrifice and courage that thousands of Americans have made to build our Nation and promote Freedom around the world. You must remember our Duty, our Honor, and our Country.

"I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the republic for which it stands, one nation UNDER GOD indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."
(In dedication to the victims of September 11, 2001)

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Called Aside - Poem

Called aside -
From the glad working of thy busy life,
From the world’s ceaseless stir of care and strife,
Into the shade and stillness by thy Heavenly Guide
For a brief space thou hast been called aside.

Called aside -
Perhaps into a desert garden dim;
And yet not alone, when thou has been with Him,
And heard His voice in sweetest accents say;
‘ Child, wilt thou not with Me this still hour stay?’

Called aside -
In hidden paths with Christ thy Lord to tread,
Deeper to drink at the sweet Fountainhead,
Close in fellowship with him to roam,
Nearer, perchance, to feel thy Heavenly Home.

Called aside -
Oh, knowledge deeper grows with Him alone;
In secret oft His deeper love is shown,
And learnt in many an hour of dark distress
Some rare, sweet lesson of His tenderness.

Call aside -
We thank Thee for the stillness and the shade;
We thank Thee for the hidden paths Thy love hath made,
And, so that we have wept and watched with Thee,
We thank Thee for our dark Gethsemane.

Called aside -
Oh, restful thought--He doeth all things well;
Oh, blessed sense, with Christ alone to dwell;
So in the shadow of Thy cross to hide;
We thank Thee, Lord, to have been called aside.

Author Unknown

Up from Slavery - Booker T. Washington

One of the most remarkable books I have had the privilege of reading, several times, is Booker T. Washington's Up From Slavery. Let's face it, we live in a land of abundance to the point of profligacy. I recall too many years ago our teachers telling us when we desperately wanted our trinket, "Offer it up for the less fortunate." They knew something we would learn as we matured: we soon weary of our trinkets. If someone said that today, we'd be carting him/her off to a padded white room.

What so fascinates me about Up From Slavery is Washington's philosophy of life that developed as he suffered his wretched life. He tells us, "My life had its beginning in the midst of the most miserable, desolate, and discouraging surroundings." There were no agencies to remove him from these terrible circumstances. But - it was because of his peculiar circumstances that he became a great man. This was his furnace of cleansing where he became a bar of gold. I suppose that is what so bothers me about what I call the "evolution of comfort" today. No one is to experience anything that bothers him/her. It is truly amazing what we will not endure.

I have no inside information on why one person is asked to scrape the bottom of the barrel looking for the scraps of life in his/her hell, while another person is the king of his/her particular hill. One thing I do know: the person who can rise above it all is the more fortunate of the two. In our insane quest for me-myself-and-I, we have lost the virtues of sacrifice and gratitude.

One of the outstanding attributes of Washington's character was his lack of resentment. Instead, he forged a betterness out of the chain of a bitterness that could have rendered him totally useless to his people and to his society. What a lesson for those of us who grumble over an anthill! If I had to choose which virtue I most admire in his life, it would be this one, for he had so very much over which to be bitter. When we think that our life is a lemon, read how Booker T. Washington made lemonade, and then served it to others.

"From the time that I can remember having any thoughts about anything, I recall that I had an intense longing to learn to read. I determined, when quite a small child, that, if I accomplished nothing else in life, I would in some way get enough education to enable me to read common books and newspapers." Washington understood that his road to true freedom was within himself. There is no excuse for not learning to read in this day of free education and libraries. We are not enslaved, folks! The only slavery is in our minds, and our lack of willingness to "be up and doing," as the adage goes. Another adage says, "You can take a horse to the water but you can't make him drink." You can take a child to a book, but that child must be motivated to want to read and to learn. The only obstacle to success today is me-myself-and-I.

This is an amazing biography about an amazing man. In our milieu of extreme comfort, this book helps us to understand that life is not always what we want it to be but, as Washington proved, we can help make it what it should be. There are certain heroes in my life that I wish I could have met, and Booker T. Washington is surely one of these. Please download the book and read it.

The Disappointed

There are songs enough for the hero
Who dwells on the heights of fame;
I sing of the disappointed--
Those who have missed their aim.

I sing for the breathless runner,
The eager, anxious soul,
Who falls with his strength exhausted
Almost in sight of the goal;

For the hearts that break in silence,
With a sorrow all unknown;
For those who need companions,
Yet walk their way alone.

There are songs enough for the lovers,
Who share love's tender pain.
I sing for the one whose passion
Is given all in vain.

And I know the solar system,
Must somewhere keep in space.
A prize for that spent runner,
Who barely lost the race.

For the plan would be imperfect,
Unless it held some sphere
That paid for the toil and talent
And love that are wasted here.

Ella Wheeler Wilcox

Surety and those credit cards

“My son, if you have put up security for your neighbor, if you have struck hands in pledge for another, if you have been trapped by what you said, ensnared by the words of your mouth” (Proverbs 6:1-2).

Herod is a perfect instance of being ensnared by what he said: "...The daughter of Herodias...pleased Herod so much that he promised with an oath to give her whatever she asked" (Matthew 14:6,7). Herod was trapped by what he promised, and he regretted it later: "The king was distressed but because of his oaths and his dinner guests, he ordered that her request be granted..." (v.9). Because of a foolish oath made by a proud man, John lost his life. It would have been a far less sin if Herod broke his promise.

We should not promise what we cannot deliver. The Bible covers every occasion for every age, and this verse surely applies to credit cards. It is too easy to pull out our credit card when we want something (mea culpa!). We are putting up security for ourselves every time we go beyond our means with an innocent looking piece of plastic, so it's best to cut it up and out if we are constantly tempted with this particular snare. And we surely are drowning when we borrow from one credit card to pay on another one!

Accumulating bills and obligations do control us so that, in our worry, we can serve neither God nor others. "...But the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful" (Mark 4:19). It is wisdom to keep a rein on both finances and obligations before they get a reign on us. We can live and die entangled in the cares of this world because we haven't been prudent. We also bring reproach upon religion if we live and die in others' debt.

This verse might also apply to appeals. Others ask us to do things for them that are beyond our time and means but, because we want others to like us, we have a difficult time saying no. It isn't fair to them or us to say yes, and then be resentful. In a way, we have been dishonest when we take on more than we can possibly do or pay.

As for thinking we are doing others a favor by always doing for them, it is far better to teach someone how to fish than to be constantly supplying the fish for him/her. We don't help others by making them dependent on us. Every age has its prodigals who would just as soon sit by and take everything you give. Prudence dictates just when we must quit pouring time and money down another's bottomless pit.

Does this mean we can never become surety, or bail, for another? "If he has done you any wrong or owes you anything, charge it to me...I will pay it back..." (Philemon 18,19). Martin Luther said of these verses: "Even as Christ did for us with God the Father, thus Paul also does for Onesimus with Philemon." Of course there will be instances when our help will be needed. What is condemned is entanglement to the point of incapacitation. "You were bought at a price; do not become slaves of men" (1 Corinthians 7:23).

Neither a borrower nor a lender be;
For loan oft loses both itself and friend.
Shakespeare, Hamlet, 1.3:75.

Alone with God - A.W. Tozer

"And when He had sent the multitudes away, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray. Now when evening came, He was alone there" (Matthew 14:23).

Modern civilization is so complex as to make the devotional life all but impossible. It wears us out by multiplying distractions and beats us down by destroying our solitude, where otherwise we might drink and renew our strength before going out to face the world again.

"The thoughtful soul to solitude retires," said the poet of other and quieter times; but where is the solitude to which we can retire today? Science, which has provided men with certain material comforts, has robbed them of their souls by surrounding them with a world hostile to their existence.

"Commune with your own heart upon your bed and be still" is a wise and healing counsel, but how can it be followed in this day of the newspaper, the telephone, the radio and the television? These modern playthings, like pet tiger cubs, have grown so large and dangerous that they threaten to devour us all. What was intended to be a blessing has become a positive curse. No spot is now safe from the world's intrusion.

A.W. Tozer, Of God and Men

I'm right and you know it!

"Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision!" (Joel 3:14 NKJV).

Many relationships falter on stubbornness. Graves have been dug with the words, "I'm right." I had a relative who was always right - absolutely, retroactively right, even when she wasn't there and you were! She also died at a young age, poor soul. Bless her, she spent her short, insecure life proving every nit-picking point. It would have been the end of her warped world to have been proven wrong.

Perhaps definitions are in order here:
1. decisiveness;
2. positiveness; and
3. stubbornness.

Decisiveness is the ability to come to a decision, make an effective choice and mentally resolve a conflict. The indecisive person lives in constant fear of consequences and is unable to handle his problems efficiently. The decisive person takes responsibility for his or her actions. Mr. or Ms. Indecisive points to others as the source of his/her unhappiness, too.

Positiveness is an extension of decisiveness: the person takes a firm stand on a decision and rules out mistakes and doubts. This person is often accused of being stubborn when in effect he has simply made up his mind on a conviction he feels is legitimate after he has thoroughly researched and thought out the problem. This person's convictions are firm, confident and, to him, logical. Of course if the person is strong-willed and narrow-minded and ungenerous, then he will be accused of being stubborn, justly so at times, too.

But the stubborn person! These folks are right come high water, the Bible, the Encyclopedia, and 50 million lawyers to prove them wrong. This person resists, whether his or her reasons are valid or not. The adamant person can't stand to lose face; ergo, s/he is always right, which is ludicrous, for who can be always absolutely right? The last I checked, Jesus was/is the only perfect Person.

On the other hand, the healthily positive person is willing to listen to reason and change his/her mind. This person is willing to change thoughts and feelings if, upon reanalysis of the situation, basic convictions are not compromised. The really confident person will concede a point to common sense, whereas the obstinate person concedes nothing. This person does not possess an opinion - it possesses him/her! Unfortunately the "always-right" person dies by degrees from loneliness. After all, who wants to be proven wrong all the time?

Wonderful Clouds

"God called the expanse 'sky'" (Genesis 1:8).

When our sons were little I used to take them down to a pond near our house and let them play there. When I felt it was safe enough, I would lie back for a few seconds and look at the sky. I've always thought that looking at the expanse somehow put hurries and worries back where they belonged. The sky was boundless and swallowed the minutiae and minutes into the larger picture of God's enduring love and concern for every single part and pang of life. After a time the endless diapers and dishes and dirt didn't seem so terribly important after all, not in the sunlight of the slowly moving and lofty white clouds.

I even used to look for messages! Clouds have always fascinated me, and they take some unusual shapes that can stir the imagination. One of my favorite psalms is Psalm 104, particularly verse 3: "He makes the clouds his chariot..." When I would cloud-gaze, I would see a chariot and take off--and then the little ones would quickly bring me back to unadorned reality. But even those few seconds of fantasy helped me to face stark life again.

Sometimes a storm cloud darkens our horizon. But I've noticed through the years that the most beautiful sunrises are behind the darkest clouds! Many times I have observed the sun rising on stormy mornings and been awed by the aura and I'm again reminded of that precious promise to Noah in Genesis 9:13, "I have set my rainbow in the clouds..."

I recommend looking to the sky when we lose sight of priorities. Somehow a glance at the universe of sky whittles reality down a bit to just how important something is. When life and its demands, both its petties and profundities, overwhelms us, glancing at the sky brings peace, serenity, a feeling that when we bring our eyes back to earth, to the horizontal view of things, all will be in place again. Vertical gives us a perpendicularly new view of our life and its abundant blessings as well as its responsibilities.

As if....

"Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not men" (Ephesians 6:7).

Acting "as if" can give power to our life, as well as save what sanity we think we have.

If we are angry with someone, we can act "as if" we love him and eventually we will love him. I believe that loving is an act of the will, just as forgiving is the act of willing what is best for the other person.

Acting "as if" gets us beyond what "is", and helps us to become what God wants us to be.

I've learned through the years that the action indeed brings the feeling. If we are upset with our spouse, then do something kind, change the bed, cook a good meal, etc., and soon we will forget what bothered us so. If we feel like disowning our whining child--well, act as if it doesn't bother us, and put in the ear plugs. Even the dog will benefit if we make the choice to serve the Lord, thereby serving those who irritate beyond reasoning.

It's balm. Instead of retaliating in kind, BE kind! We might also say that instead of giving our irritant a piece of our mind, if we act "as if" we have the mind and heart of Christ, we will enjoy peace of mind. Who knows, we might actually turn into a nice person!

No God!

"The fool says in his heart, `There is no God'" (Psalm 14:1).

Just think if we had no God! Divine Providence would not exist at all.

No God!
Then all God said is fiction and we would have no foundation. We would have no hope, no belief, and no expectations. What a terrible world this would be without a God who keeps the heavens in order and the earth replenished.

No God!
Then no prayer, for why pray? Who would we pray to or for, and what reasons would we have, if we haven't a more excellent Person to take our petitions to and know they would be granted?

No God!
There would be no forgiveness of our sins; what a burden to carry around all the time. If we would not be forgiven, then we would not know to forgive others. Can we begin to imagine the chaos and spiritual carnage?

No God!
Then there would be no comfort and oh! how could we survive without nurture from someone who would understand because He has suffered it all first? We would have to carry around broken hearts until we died, and then all hope would be buried.

No God!
There would be no reaching for a higher wisdom than our own; man would be the final arbitrator and administrator of decisions. What a depressing and degrading thought.

No God!
Then there would be no Son who died for us and who intercedes for us. There would be no Sermon on the Mount to give us a standard whereby we love and relate to each other.

No God!
The fool's creed is crude in every possible way.

Out came a consequence!

"Then they gave me the gold, and I threw it into the fire, and out came this calf!" (Exodus 32:24).

How preposterous! "You know the people, that they are prone to evil" (v.22). Aaron said nothing about the mold he made or the graving tool he used. Aaron blamed society and we're still doing it. Give the crowd what they want and then blame them when the gold and what we in our finite wisdom thought was good for them finally destroys them. Actually, our progenitor Adam started the blame game: "The man said, `The woman you put here with me--she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it'" (Genesis 3:12). Eve took it from there.

We have all sinned, and we have all blamed nature and them. "They" made us do it. Society makes us murderers and adulterers because it makes such stringent laws, so we reason. Moses literally broke the commandments in indignation at the sin he witnessed; we break God's commandments in indignation that our so-called freedom is curtailed and then we blame others when that so-called freedom grows a bumper crop of unexpected problems.

"But they all alike began to make excuses" (Luke 14:18). Everyone does it, so it can't be too wrong for us to do it; We are victims of a corrupt society; God put us in the furnace of affliction and we came out burned. At one time, children's shirts were sold that had emblazoned on them, "The devil made me do it." That's as good an excuse as all the others combined.

Someone described an alibi as an excuse that's cooked up, but is always half-baked. Benjamin Franklin made a couple of observations that have stood the test of time and human nature: "The absent are never without fault, nor the present without excuse" and "He that is good for making excuses is seldom good for anything else." God is not going to ask us who made us do what was wrong in His sight. He is going to ask us why we didn't have the courage to say no at the crucial moment of temptation. He has heard all of these excuses:
"I couldn't help it"
"The necessity of my situation"
"Compelled by circumstances"
"Customs of the trade"
"If I hadn't done it, I would have lost my friends"
"If I don't do it, someone else will"
"I would have lost my job"
Etc., etc., etc.

These may be all true: but the point is, Was the thing wrong? If it was, the case of Aaron teaches us that we cannot save ourselves by transferring the blame of what we have done to circumstances or to others. It is not a plea which will be held valid on the day of judgment.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Dear Jesus - 70 x 7 Again?

Me: Jesus, it's me again. Forgive me for bothering you so much, but this problem is eroding my innards. I had a terrible row with him today--again. Sometimes I really despise him. Of course, as you know, being a good Christian, I didn't tell him. Heavens, I have offices in the church, and I have to be careful of my image. . .

Jesus: Image, my all-seeing eye! That's ridiculous. I saw your heart, and it was one big spiritual aneurysm. It was only my grace that kept it from blowing bits of poison through your rotten system.
Me: O Jesus, how can you say that? Why, he started the whole thing. He always does, spending ten-dollar bills on ten-cent problems. Why does he do that?

Jesus: Never mind what he does. I'll take care of him in due time. It's you we need to patch together here. Remember that sentence your friend wrote for you, "Meekness is the lack of self-justification?"

Me: Well, yes. In fact, I have it right over my desk and I read it every day.

Jesus: It isn't doing you much good, is it? Now, for your penance I want you to repeat that sentence once every hour.

Me: But I left those "works" years ago! I thought we weren't supposed to do that penance bit. . .

Jesus: I'm the High Priest and I'm telling you, repeat that sentence twice an hour for arguing about it. Now, that card you spotted in the grocery store. . .

Me: Yes, Jesus, that was really unfair. You didn't give me any time to get my wits together to tell him off. Why, that card hit me right in my madness!

Jesus: It was supposed to. I sent my Holy Spirit down there just before you went storming into the store, and had him inspire one of the clerks to put it where I knew you couldn't miss it. You see, I know your habits, even the one of lingering in front of card racks.

Me: But Jesus, that card?! It looked really neat, though--so colorful. "GOD LOVES YOU!" Wow! Like you said, I couldn't miss it. And then when I read what it said inside, "And what's good enough for God is good enough for me!" Well, Jesus, I got your message. I bought it and put in on his desk.

Jesus: Good! You did just what I wanted you to do. You followed the promptings of my Spirit, finally.

Me: It did help. He came in and apologized after he read it. But I'm still mad at him!

Jesus: That's a good word, mad. Of course you are. You're filled with pride and selfishness.

Me: But Jesus, you just don't understand. . .

Jesus: Now don't start that canard. I died for you, lady--no, woman--no lady would act the way you did that day. As for my not understanding, nonsense. Remember, I walked that same earth, and human nature hasn't changed much, unfortunately. I got murdered by people who thought they were doing the world a favor. You only got chewed out.

Me: I got spit out!

Jesus: Well, remember – I got spit on. But anyway, see what it's done for you. It's sent you to my Word. And it's humbled you a bit. We do need to work on that. But at least you're searching and praying, and I've been rushing my Holy Spirit to you to clean up that cesspool in your heart.

Me: Mercy, Jesus! Is it that bad?
Jesus: Indeed it is. You can't see it, but I can. Speaking of mercy, do you realize it's my mercy that keeps you from doing even worse things? Have you ever thought to thank me for that?

Me: O yes, Jesus! When I look at what other people do, why, I'm so grateful I'm not that bad!

Jesus: You Pharisee, I didn't mean it that way. There but for my grace and pardon, you would be doing all manner of unrighteousness. And you certainly didn't win any celestial points with that awful outburst last week. You know, woman, if you would just keep quiet you'd stay out of a lot of trouble. To borrow back from Shakespeare who I inspired anyway, "The lady doth protest too much, methinks." And because of my dreadful experience with Pilate, I inspired Shakespeare to write this, too: "The silence of pure innocence persuades when speaking fails." Only you aren't pure innocence.

Me: But Jesus, I didn't even do what he kept saying I did. Silence surely would not have convinced him.

Jesus: Did all that yelling help? Remember when I stood before Pilate and said nothing? My friend Matthew recorded that Pilate marveled greatly at that silence, because it's so human to defend ourselves. I didn't do a thing to deserve being hung on a cross. You're far from innocent, and when you are accused wrongfully you scream inwardly and outwardly. Shock him and say nothing. He'll marvel at your silence, believe me.

Me: Well, I suppose I didn't have to make that wisecrack about his German distemper when he hit me with that "You and your Irish temper. . ."

Jesus: Yes, I should give you a permanent stiff upper lip for that one. The trouble is, even if you never said it you'd think it, and it's the thought that gives birth to the deed, always. That was one of the purposes of my Sermon on the Mount: clean up your thoughts and then you'll clean up your act.

Me: I know, Jesus, but if only he...

Jesus: Oh, there you go, with your "but if onlys" again! There are no excuses and no exceptions. You're supposed to be my portrait just as I'm the portrait of my Father. It's an affront to me when you insult one of mine, and you certainly insulted him that day. He's my child, remember?

Me: Well. . . I'm sorry, Jesus.

Jesus: Yes, I believe you. Of course sorry has several connotations, but I'm Love and I'll accept it as true repentance. Now, let's see what we can do to help you better understand forgiveness. One very important thing, it's unconditional, absolutely no strings attached.

Me: Do you mean that no matter what anyone says or does, I'm supposed to drop it all as if it never happened?

Jesus: That's it!

Me: Impossible, Jesus. . .

Jesus: True, but that's without me. With me all things are possible, and that includes a brand new heart of love, and a new mind, too: my mind. My friend Paul had lots to say about the mind. Study Romans 8:6: "To be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace." Your mind can't be at peace when it's filled with hate and resentment.

Me: Yes, Jesus. I have to admit I haven't been too peaceful since this last row.

Jesus: Of course not. But you can free both of you by forgiving him. Besides, I have promised the earth to the meek and humble, and the peacemakers I call my special children. But before you inherit the everlasting earth you need to change your character. It may shock you to hear this, but if you can't get along with him and forgive him here, you may not have a hereafter!

Me: Somehow that doesn't seem quite fair!

Jesus: But that's the way it is. Why did I die for your sins in which you persist? I did it because I love you. Why can't you forgive for the same reason? But - I have to stress that I don't love your sins, and I can't excuse them or allow you to excuse them.

Me: But Jesus, if it's someone else's fault. . .!

Jesus: Oh, there you go again! Besides, how do you know that? You may be just as much at fault as the other person. It's your reaction that tells on you. Your pride is piqued so you lash out. If you had a humble spirit and if you think about me and the sacrifice I made for all of you, these things wouldn't get your goat so much. Speaking of goat, you humans have a gift for making scapegoats of others when the fault lies within your own noisome spirit. You're acting like a goat, you know--very unruly. Read up on sheep and remember that I plan to put the sheep on my right. The goats will be out in left field.

Me: Yes, Jesus. I feel very sheepish. . .

Jesus: You should. And while we're on this subject of right- and left-handed choices, the final distinction is the sanctified and the unsanctified, not the rich and the poor, the educated and the uneducated, and all those divisions and so-called discernments you humans are so fond of inventing.

Me: Well, Jesus, I do try not to judge others. . .

Jesus: Ah, but you do! The moment you entertain an unforgiving thought you are judging. The first word you utter in anger is a judgment. Think about that. And I know what you wanted to call him, too! You can thank my Spirit that you at least had the grace not to say it. My friend Matthew recorded what I had to say about name-calling. Anyone who calls another a fool is in danger of the second death. You're to treat all with tenderness.

Me: But it's so hard to remember that in the heat of anger. . .

Jesus: If you had my mind you'd have no heat. You need the heat from my lamp, my Word, not the world's words. And don’t have the last word!!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Help! Turn off the music!

When I listen to the current noise that is called music, I find very little of pleasure to the senses, only a tremendous irritation as I'm put on hold to listen to rap music, or sitting in a doctor's office with a very ill relative and forced to listen to loud pop music, or trying to concentrate while grocery shopping for a very diabetic friend.

What really got me on this rampage was a trip to the emergency room with a very sick relative, and both televisions were on, with different programs on each! What is there in our psyches anymore that we can't stand some silence, even with the very ill? I actually had the unmitigated gall one day to ask a receptionist to please, please turn down the very loud "music" while waiting to see a doctor, and I was told it needed to be that loud because the folks behind the desk needed privacy! Huh? Too bad about the sick folks out there!

God's Word assures us that quietness is our strength (what a blessed promise to those of us now searching in vain for a silent corner in this earth):
Job 34:29 KJV: "When He giveth quietness, who then can make trouble?"
Is 30:15: "This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says: `In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength...'"
Is.32:16-18 TLB: "Then justice will rule through all the land, and out of justice, peace. Quietness and confidence will reign forever more. My people will live in safety, quietly at home."
Jer.50:34 TLB: "But their Redeemer is strong. His name is the Lord of Hosts. He will plead for them and see that they are freed to live again in quietness in Israel."

I love this little story:
"Why are you all so quiet all the time?" I say, still whispering at him in this hoarse voice.
"We are teachers and workers," he says, "not talkers."
"Workers, O.K.," I say, "but how can a teacher be quiet all the time and teach anybody anything?"
"Christ was the best," he says, thinking of something. "He lived thirty-three years. Thirty years he kept quiet; three years he talked. Ten to one for keeping quiet." (Franc Smith, Harry Vernon at Prep)

It doesn’t hurt to shut down all the paraphernalia and allow God’s serenity to enter into the recesses of our mind and heart. I do believe this is the peace He promises us: "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid" (John 14:27). The Living Bible gives us this translation: "I am leaving you with a gift--peace of mind and heart!" Indeed, it is a wondrous gift, but we must be quiet to receive it!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Love in the Home

To our dearly-loved Marie and Shelley and Cherie:

I want to take this opportunity to thank you for being wonderful wives and mothers! Pappy and I were most fortunate in the choices our sons made. When I read the following it occurred to me that we have never thanked you publicly for being such an important and cherished part of our lives. Thank you, dear Daughters!


If I live in a house of spotless beauty with everything in its place, but have not love, I am a housekeeper - not a homemaker.

If I have time for waxing, polishing, and decorative achievements, but have not love, my children learn cleanliness - not godliness.

Love leaves the dust in search of a child's laugh.

Love smiles at the tiny fingerprints on a newly cleaned window.

Love wipes away the tears before it wipes up the spilled milk.

Love picks up the child before it picks up the toys.

Love is present through the trials. Love reprimands, reproves, and is responsive.

Love crawls with the baby, walks with the toddler, runs with the child, then stands aside to let the youth walk into adulthood.

Love is the key that opens salvation's message to a child's heart.

Before I became a mother I took glory in my house of perfection. Now I glory in God's perfection of my child. As a mother, there is much I must teach my child, but the greatest of all is love.

Author Unknown

Worth Living

“God saw all that He had made, and it was very good” (Genesis 1:31).

I have a tattered old booklet titled Is Life Worth Living? by J. Walter Rich. Probably every person who has been born, especially if they make it to old age, has asked that question. Certainly Job had a problem with the quality of his life when it went downhill rapidly, and Joseph must have wondered the same thing as he sat in prison for something he didn't do.

I think we all need to focus on a worthy purpose in life. It saddens me deeply to see the way some of our young people are being wasted. They are told they have evolved from slime, so why should they feel good about themselves? Why should they feel they are responsible for their own actions, if those actions are predetermined by a genetic makeup over which they have no control?

I've always believed in a rather simplistic description of good and evil: good is constructive and evil is destructive. Life is good and it is constructive for those who are good. "A man who has lived well is the one who has made good among his fellows. He has not been a dead weight upon his community. He has added to the uplift of his surroundings, passing on to it his spirit and inspiration. He has given as much or more than he has received; otherwise, he has been a liability rather than an asset" (J. Walter Rich). But - to do and to be good, we must believe in Something higher than ourselves and Someone who wants the best for us. If we know -- absolutely without any doubts – that our Father truly loves us and wants the best for us, then we can live that good life!

For our precious young people I'd like to share these verses:

John 10: 10:   
I have come that they might have life, and have it to the full.
Psalm 103:4:  
He redeems my life from the pit and crowns me with love and compassion.
Deut. 30: 19:  
I have set before you life and ... blessings ... Now choose life, so that you and your children may live ...
Eze. 18:32:     
I take no pleasure in the death of anyone ...
John 12:47:   
I did not come to judge the world, but to save it.
Esther 4: 14:
Who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?

Friday, July 13, 2012

How Could He Give Us Up?

"How could I give you up...?" (Hosea 11:8).

James Dobson wrote an interesting book, Love Must Be Tough. God has to be tough at times, too, with His stiff-necked and stubborn people, which includes us all. But how our hearts melt when we read, "My heart is overwhelmed, my pity is stirred" (Hosea 11:8b). We forget that our Father has feelings, too. Humans give up on each other when it seems hopeless, but God goes on loving and giving and forgiving.

Years ago one of our sons had been giving us trouble. One day he asked our forgiveness. To quote verse 8, my heart was overwhelmed. We both wept. How could I not free him, for that is really the essence of forgiveness. In freeing him I freed myself, too. "I delight in mercy," says our God of the Old Testament. I certainly delighted in telling this precious son about a God "who removes guilt and pardons sin ... Who does not persist in anger forever, but delights rather in clemency..." (Micah 7:18). Thank God that He chooses to grant us mercy instead of the full measure of justice. He says to us all, "How could I give you up?" Three weeks later this young man was dead. Little did we both know at the time that his final gift to me was that conversation.

"Oh, prodigal, you may be wandering on the dark mountains of sin, but God wants you to come home! The devil has been telling you lies about God; you think He will not receive you back. I tell you He will welcome you this minute if you will come. Say 'I will arise, and go to my Father.' There is not one whom Jesus has not sought far longer than that father. There has not been a day since you left Him but that He has followed you. I do not care what the past has been, or how black your life, He will receive you back. Arise, then, O backslider, and come home once more to your Father's house" (D. L. Moody).

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Precepts for us oldsters!

I well remember the first time I was asked if I wanted the senior discount! We ladies have trouble giving up our smooth skin. One of our grandsons informed me at the tender age of three, while looking intently at my aging face, “Gwammy, you need more wotion to fwatten out you winkles.” After I recovered from laughing, I headed for the mirror; yep, there were a lot of them. Out of the mouths of babes ...

Dr. Frank Crane has left wise advice for us golden agers:


1. I will not try to act nor dress nor talk so as to make people think I am younger than I am.

2. I will not pretend to be young, nor be angry when called old, nor ashamed of my age.

3. I will not complain of being old.

4. I will not continually remind people of my old age to secure their sympathy, or to hear them say I am not so old after all or do not seem so.

5. I will not form the habit of indulging in reminiscences.

6. I will be particularly careful not to repeat the same anecdote over and over.

7. I will not complain of the present and claim the past was much better.

8. If I am deaf, weak-eyed, lame, or otherwise afflicted, I will not advertise my infirmities, but avoid obtruding them upon the notice of others as much as possible.

9. I will not talk of myself, my work, my achievements, even of my mistakes, any more than necessary.

10. I will speak cheerfully or keep still.

11. I will never indulge in cynicism, never sneer at youth and will always try to appreciate what younger folks do.

12. I shall concede my life's triumph to be growing triumphantly, victoriously old.

13. In a word, I shall try to adjust myself to old age, as well as to all other facts of life.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Please quit blowing out my candle!

Years ago I read a remarkable book, You Can’t Afford the Luxury of a Negative Thought, by Peter McWilliams. Fortunately I jotted down some of the more meaningful (for me) thoughts, and I'd like to share a few of them.

"An optimist may see a light where there is none, but why must the pessimist always run to blow it out?" (Michel de Saint-Pierre). I particularly like this one, as I have a friend who loves to blow out as many lights as he can find!

"Every good thought you think is contributing its share to the ultimate result of your life" (Grenville Kleiser).

Our thoughts create our reality - not instantly, necessarily, as in "Poof! There it is" --but eventually. Where we put our focus--our inner and outer vision--is the direction we tend to go. That's our desire, our intention. The way we get there--well, there are many methods.

"The epidemic of fear (a subset of negative thinking) is one of the most easily spread. Unlike any viral or bacterial illness, fear can be caught over the telephone, from reading newspapers, or from watching television."

"From a medical point of view, negative thinking suppresses the immune system, raises the blood pressure, and creates a general level of stress and fatigue in the body. In short, infections, cardiovascular irregularities, the degeneration of muscles, and the random growth of unwanted cells get more opportunity."

"There is no cure for birth and death save to enjoy the interval" (George Santayana).

"On no subject are our ideas more warped and pitiable than on death. Let children walk with nature, let them see the beautiful blendings and communions of life and death, their joyous inseparable unity, as taught in woods and meadows, plains and mountains and streams of our blessed star, and they will learn that death is stingless indeed, and as beautiful as life, and that the grave has no victory, for it never fights. All is divine harmony" (John Muir). Please read John Muir's biography - what a beautiful soul!

"This is the true joy in life, the being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one; the being thoroughly worn out before you are thrown on the scrap heap; the being a force of nature instead of a feverish selfish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy" (George Bernard Shaw).

And finally this gem:
"Right now, in this moment, without moving from where you are, you can find ample evidence to prove your life is a miserable, depressing, terrible burden, or you can find evidence to prove your life is an abundant, joyful, exciting adventure."

I made a poster of this quote about rainbows and have it where I am reminded to "Be the rainbow to the storms of life." What a good idea! How depressing to be constantly raining on everyone's parade. Let's be Rainbows and not Black Clouds.