Death of a Nation

6 01 2018

Israel, once a powerful and God-loving nation, was led by a succession of evil kings who encouraged idolatry. And, in spite of God’s warnings, Israel fell deeper and deeper into sin. The people disobeyed God’s commands and began to worship idols. They became corrupt. They grew greedy. They became lustful and shamelessly immoral. They drifted away from God, who had done so much to make them an independent nation, and eventually the nation was destroyed.

 

Sound familiar?

 

Look at today’s headlines. Hardly a day goes by we don’t see another example of corruption within our legal system and our government. The swamp is deep and wide. The web of deceit and corruption has become so widespread and intertwined it appears there is no way to fix it. And, while there is nothing new about corruption among politicians and powerful people, there was a time when we would hold those who were found guilty accountable for their actions. Murders, rapes and violence, in general, are on the upswing.

 

I believe that what entertains us reveals our nature. In the fifties and early sixties, for example, A wholesome America thronged to the theaters to see the likes of Tracy, Hepburn, John Wayne, Doris Day, Portiere and others. Our favorite television characters included Lucy and Ricky, Rob and Laura Petrie, the Cleavers and so on. These were characters portrayed by people who conducted themselves in a respectable manner, both on and off camera. But, we began to get away from wholesome heroes in favor of a free lifestyle without inhibitions and boundaries. We began to reject noble character in favor of a me first attitude. Like the children of Israel, we began to lose sight of what was good. We began to lose sight of our Christian values.

 

In a Pew Research Center study conducted in 2014, the number of Americans who say they do not believe in God nearly doubled, from 5 to 9 percent, as compared to a similar study in 2007. In a country of over 300 million people, that’s a large number. Sadly, the same trend continues today.

 

There is no single event to which one can attribute the genesis of America’s moral decay; but, if I had to pick a spot in history which might come close, I would go with Woodstock and the hippie movement of the late sixties. Many of those same free-loving, anti-establishment, draft-dodging potheads are brain-washing your kids on our college campuses today. Those same snowflakes are the parents who came up with the everybody wins and everybody gets a trophy insanity which gave millennials a sense of entitlement to go along with their closets filled with dusty trophies. And, as America continues this immoral spiral, we grow closer to the same fate that befell Israel in the Books of 1 and 2 Kings-the death of a nation.

 

The good news, or should I say, The Good News, is, Christ will return soon and the end will be the beginning for those who have accepted Christ as Savior and our new lives will be eternal.

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Idols and Statues

21 11 2017

Recently, I was having a conversation with one of my favorite people-one of my sons- about the statues that are being removed or destroyed all over the country. He wasn’t terribly concerned because, he felt that all statues are idols. A statue, like anything else, is what you make it. Statues are erected for many reasons; they commemorate historical events, or pay tribute to influential people. Many people view statues as art; some, as we are seeing in the news, view a statue as an object of hate; others see them as no more than a lump of granite or bronze without appreciating the talent required to make them. And, yes, there are some people who will worship statues. They have chosen to put an inanimate object before God. But, regardless as to how one might view a statue, it is a choice they made. So, yes, a statue can be an idol, but only if one chooses for it to be.

 

Merriam Webster defines idol as a representation or symbol of an object of worship. An idol is anything one puts before God. That could be a car or truck, a job, a craving for money, success or power and so on.

 

Not Exactly the Family Truckster

I once did safety consulting for Porsche. Inside a garage in the facility, awaiting delivery to their new owners, were two 918 Spyders, each valued at over one million dollars. That’s a lot of money to spend on a car and I’m glad for those who have the money to own one. I don’t, for one minute, begrudge anyone from enjoying such luxury. And I’m sure there are different reasons as to why one would spend a million dollars on a car. It may be because they like the feel of the car when sitting in the driver’s seat. You don’t drive a 918 Spyder-you wear it. The attitude of some may be, I have the money, why not enjoy it. But then there may be some who love their new Spyder…literally love it as much as they do their own family.

 

But it need not be a million dollar car that is the subject of one’s worship. When I was just a kid, around 12 years old, a particular school teacher at the local junior high school, and her husband, owned a Morris Minor. The Morris Minor was a British made car built from 1948 until the company stopped production in 1972.

 

I was in my front yard, along with a friend, and we were throwing a baseball. An errant throw went past my friend’s glove and sailed toward the street. At that moment, the school teacher, whom I was just about to meet for the first time, drove by in her Morris Minor. The ball bounced off the left rear fender and left a small dent. The teacher stopped the car, jumped out and looked at the dent. She then ran over toward me with a look on her face that said you just hit my 918 Spyder with a baseball. I could see her rage manifest by her cracking voice and the red moving from below her collar upward until it reached her hairline. She reminded me of an old Popeye cartoon in which Sinbad the Sailor squeezes Popeye until his head looks like a radish. She was extremely angry, but not as much as her husband, who was also a school teacher, was when he came to my house later that evening to voice his displeasure to my parents. He ranted about how long he had had that car and how much it meant to him. I remember hearing him say something about the car having 300,000 miles on it and how he had already…now I’m not making this up…bought a plot so when it finally died, he planned to have it buried. In other words, your object of worship need not be a million dollar car.

 

The Golden Calf

The Israelites grew impatient while waiting for Moses to come down from Mt. Sinai; so, they decided to take matters into their own hands and pooled their earrings, bracelets and other items of gold, and melted them down to cast into a calf. Now, they could have left it at that and things would have been okay, but when Moses returned to camp, he saw them dancing and paying homage to this idol-this false god, they had created. They could have placed it in the center of the camp, on a granite base, as a statue… not to worship, but to honor God, or even Moses for that matter. Or, Aaron, the ring leader, could have taken it home and used it as a door stop or used it as a paperweight. But no, they had to worship it. They reveled in it. They expected it to provide them with blessings they felt they weren’t getting from God. But that’s when things went downhill for these people.

 

An idol, regardless of the form it takes, is a choice. People choose to pursue worldly interests and ignore the one true God. People see hate or adoration in a statue. People put personal desires ahead of everything else in their lives. Worship the one true God and put your faith in Him. That will get you to heaven and make America great again.





Hell: The Real Eternal Flame

24 09 2017

Have you ever loved someone with such deep passion that when you try to express your love, you feel “I love you” simply isn’t enough? You search the data banks storing your vocabulary and feel exasperated because you can’t come up with any words adequate to convey the level of your love. It seems the words just don’t exist.

 

Or, you go on a trip to Pago-Pago and shoot a picture of a big orange sun setting between two palm trees-the most beautiful sunset you’ve ever seen. Then, upon returning home, you share the picture with friends and feel disappointment because you realize the picture comes nowhere near your real life experience that you wanted to share.

 

This is the best way I know to describe hell-that is, there are no words that can accurately describe the reality or the horror of hell.

 

First, we must realize that hell is a real place. Hell isn’t like the planet Krypton, the Land of Oz, or any other fictitious location. It’s as real as New York City or Davenport, Iowa. It isn’t some New Age notion that exists only in the cosmos or the mind of the progressive thinker. It is a real and living geographic location with a very wide gate. It’s the future home of Satan and all non-believers.

 

Scripture tells us hell is in the earth. Psalm 55:15 says, Let death seize upon them, and let them go down quick into hell: for wickedness is in their dwellings, and among them. Ezekiel 31:16 says, I made the nations to shake at the sound of his fall, when I cast him down to hell with them that descend into the pit: and all the trees of Eden, the choice and best of Lebanon, all that drink water, shall be comforted in the nether parts of the earth. And, finally, at Matthew 12:40, Jesus said, “For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly: so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.”

 

Villarrica

In 1990, I was blessed to be a part of a six-man team that spent two weeks in Pucon, Chile building a church. The church was within about five miles of Villarrica, an active volcano. At night, we could clearly see the red glow from the molten lava lake inside. The temperature of the lava was probably in the range of 2,000 to 2,400 degrees. If one were to fall into the lava, they would probably die before ever hitting the surface, and then be immediately consumed. But, imagine falling into lava and not dying-just feeling the burn. Forever. And ever.

 

In Luke 16, Jesus spoke of the horrors of Hell. Hell is a place of torment in which its inhabitants, those who reject Christ, will burn forever in a fiery furnace. It is estimated the temperature at the center of the earth is around 12,000˚F. Imagine living in such an environment without death; with no relief from the pain.  It is worse than anything you and I can imagine. Relentless suffering. In other words, there are no words I can find to give accurate description of the horror millions of non-believers will experience for all eternity.

The Lake of Fire: Future Home to Non-Believers

It‘s easy to go through life-giving little, if any, thought to the reality of heaven or hell. Sadly, millions will do just that. Life is about choices. Don’t make the wrong choice and reject the Savior. I promise, you will regret it.





Finally- April Gives Birth!

23 04 2017

Will this kid ever come?!

I got up last Saturday, turned on Fox News, and they were talking about April, the eternally pregnant giraffe, going into labor. I knew, for some strange reason, my wife would want to see this since she, like so many other women, had been glued to her iPad in anticipation of seeing the little booger hit the ground. So, I woke her up. Now before you call me sexist, I know men have been watching it too; but, polls show the female watchers outnumber males by 1500-1.

 

By the time she got up and got tuned in, a foot was sticking out. Then April paced around for another couple of hours or so before, PLOP, there it is.

 

“Oh, look at this!” she said with the excitement of scratching off the winning numbers on a lottery ticket. One would have thought we had just had another grandchild. “There’s the placenta,” she went on.

 

I looked at this little guy, a slime-covered, gangly legged, pile of giraffe sitting in the sand, his head bobbing around like a bobble head on the dashboard as if to be thinking, what the heck just happened? Then something occurred to me.

 

Now, as I understand, this wasn’t April’s first trip down baby lane. But what was it like the first time? I mean, when those two feet popped out from her backside, she probably thought, oh well, here I go again. But what went through her mind the first time she got pregnant and wasn’t familiar with the experience?

 

With baby number one, in similar fashion, when that first foot popped out, her first thought was probably, Not now, Oliver. I have a headache. Then, upon realizing Oliver was nowhere around, she probably looked rearward and saw that foot sticking out and thought, Whoa! What the heck is that?

 

Mama’s baby

It’s amazing how God gave mothers of any ilk the instinct to know what to do when they have babies. When his

face hit the sand, April jumped right in there and began cleaning up her baby. What was really cool was later, watching an extremely agitated April in the adjacent stall, when one of the zoo workers went in to do whatever zoo workers do to newborn giraffes. She wanted desperately to get to her baby to protect him from the intruder.  Maybe that’s it. I don’t care if you are a woman, a dachshund, or a long-neck giraffe; all mothers have one thing in common-a nurturing and protective instinct. That same instinct goes back to mama one. It was something she was born with and not something that evolved. That’s the common bond women share and what draws millions of women to computer screens to watch even a four-legged animal join the bonds of motherhood.

 





Satan’s Puppets

16 04 2017

The chief priests, elders and scribes who conspired against Jesus and delivered Him to the Cross; the Roman soldiers who mocked, beat and nailed Him there; and, the citizens who demanded His crucifixion were all unwitting participants in an event that would affect mankind for eternity.  In spite of having been eyewitness to many of Jesus’ miraculous works, they defiantly refused to believe He was indeed the Messiah and the Son of God. Rather, they felt Jesus was a threat to their power and beliefs. But, during His short mortal life, Jesus made it clear He had come to save when He said, “For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him.” John 3:17. Jesus’ death was part of God’s plan of salvation.

 

Jesus also made clear the path to that eternal life when He said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life; no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” John 14:6.

 

Sadly, many today do not believe Jesus is the Son of God, nor do they appreciate what Jesus endured on that day on our behalf. Many are as blind and clueless as those who murdered Jesus and do not realize the harm they are causing or the destructive road they are following. University professors, the ultra-biased media, non-believing celebrities, corrupt politicians, and others who use their platform to spread their secular agenda, striving to remove all traces of Christianity from our lives, are unknowingly serving as pawns of Satan. It is one thing to espouse an opinion; but to openly, or subliminally, deliver evil is a fulfillment of Scripture and their followers will follow them to an eternal hell.  

 

God’s plan hasn’t changed. Jesus will return, but not riding on a donkey as He had done on what we now know as Good Friday. Instead, He will be as a warrior returning to defeat Satan and all evil. Those who have not accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior will not be saved from damnation.

 

Because of His suffering, we now have been given the greatest gift possible-eternal life. It’s right there like an apple on a low-hanging branch. All we have to do is grab it. Confess your sins and accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior. It’s that simple. Unfortunately, many will continue to ignore His call.

 





Count Your Blessings

22 01 2017

Psalm 40:5

“Many, O Lord my God, are Your wonderful works Which You have done; And Your thoughts toward us Cannot be recounted to You in order; If I would declare and speak of them, They are more than can be numbered.”

 

In Deuteronomy 29, a chapter in the lives of the Israelites was about to come to an end. Before sending the Israelites across the Jordan River into the Promised Land, Moses wanted to be sure everyone realized what they had just experienced because they had so much for which to be thankful.

 

This is the way I hear Moses’ address to the crowd.

 

You people have been following me around this desert now for 40 years. Have you not realized that you’re still wearing the same clothes you wore on the night God delivered us from Egyptian bondage 40 years ago? Yet, your clothes are not worn and tattered. They look as if you just walked out of a Sears catalog.

 

Have you never stopped to think about where your food and water, here in the desert, have come from for the past 40 years? True, mana and water isn’t meatloaf and Merlot, but by the grace of God, you’ve managed to survive and survive well.

 

Everything you have needed, God has provided. And now, He’s about to give you land, a great land, where you can settle down and raise your families.

 

Stop for a minute, people, and think about the past 40 years and how we have survived. God has blessed us every day with innumerable blessings.

 

In many respects, we are much like the children of Israel. We go through each day of our lives and it never occurs to us just how many times God has blessed us. Our blessings, like those of the Israelites, are too many to count. Every possession, every gift and ability, our children, our friends, our very lives we owe to God. We work hard to build the lives we have, but it’s our God-given abilities that allow us to achieve; and, sometimes we need a reminder of how good God has been to us.

 

“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

 

Take a moment every day to thank God for the things He has done for you.





Imagine!

31 10 2016

At I Corinthians 2:9, we read, “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love Him.”

 

I really don’t think we can truly appreciate what lies ahead. God has promised His children a home in His presence and has given us a little insight into what that home will be like. We’ve heard about streets of gold lined with mansions. We read in Scripture there will be no sorrow,  no sickness, and no pain. It’s supposed to be a virtual paradise in His presence. But, I believe it will be beyond anything we can imagine in our finite, mortal minds.

 

I still remember the first time I went to a football game in a stadium under the lights. It was a high school game and I was probably 12 or 13 years old, but I remember stepping into the stadium and a whole new world opened before me. I can still recall the transition as I moved from the darkness of the world outside the stadium into the bright lights within. It was amazing; think of Rudy’s dad (aka Ned Beatty) when he stepped into Notre Dame Stadium for the first time. “This is the most beautiful sight these eyes have ever seen,” he said.

 

The lights shining down on the field that night were so bright they lit up the colors of the uniforms. Everything was so sharp and vivid. And the sound of players colliding was as crisp as the cool night air. I noticed the stadium lights bouncing off of the players’ shiny helmets, and I knew this was something I wanted to be a part of. People could have described it to me, but this was beyond words. No one could have described this scene in a way that would enable me to truly appreciate what I saw as I entered that stadium.

 

I don’t think words can describe what we will see and experience when we enter heaven. I think it will be amazing. It will be beyond anything we can imagine because we live in a world of boundaries and limitations.

 

Ours is a results-oriented existence. You work hard-you get rewarded. We are programmed with worldly expectations. We expect to have to do certain things which we may or may not enjoy-grow old, pay bills, see the doctor, fill the car with gas, suffer pain or sickness, or grieve over a death. These are things that are simply a part of our world. But when we enter the world of God, these things will all be in the past.

 

To stand in God’s presence will be an experience beyond anything we can imagine and I, for one, can’t wait.