Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Kinetic Sand

One of my Christmas presents is one of the most unusual items I have ever played with. It is a product of Sweden called Kinetic Sand and it fascinates me. Playing with kinetic sand is a near magical experience. This stuff has its own motion and flows like water through your fingers. You don't have to wash your hands because none of it is left on your hands.

I can shape it into all kinds of shapes that feel solid and even hard but squeeze it and it crumbles and flows like a liquid. It is mesmerizing and relaxing. I think I will be playing with it a lot this year.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Winter Gray

Winter is setting in around here and the grass is brown, flowers are gone snow and ice have cover the ground then melted. Almost everything wears out, grows old or fades. Including me! Every year it is almost like some one has pulled a plug and over night the color is gone. Winter gray has arrived even affecting peoples moods.

As I think about these things I am reminded of our recent Christmas celebrating that added lights and laughter to all our lives. It was a reminder of the birth of Jesus the Christ and all the blessings of God's love for all of us. The Gospel is always new and reliable good news that Gold loves us so muck that even if a bleak winter enters our souls spring will come and restore good cheer and great joy.

My life goes through the seasons year after year and I have weathered each of them with the simple grace that God is with me every step of the way. My faith in God never weathers or fades and is bright as the fresh and lovely first blooms of spring flowers.

As 2013 fades into memory and 2014 beams with promise on the horizon I know that God will walk with me through all of the future.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

After Christmas THoughts

Christmas has come and gone.

Where do we get our information about the first Christmas? It comes first from the Gospels and we built tradations on all that information.

The Gospel According to Mark ignores it all together. That Gospel starts with the Baptism. Even if Mark was all of the Gospel I had I could be a Christian.

The Gospel According to Matthew has an angel visiting Joseph to inform him what he must do. Joseph is apparently living in Bethlehem. He is told that the child shall be called “Emmanuel” but he names the boy Jesus. After that the “wise men” from the East show up to honor the new king of the Jews. Joseph is warned in a dream to flee to Egypt. King Herod has boys under the age of two in Bethlehem killed. After Herod’s death Joseph moves to Nazareth.

The Gospel According to Luke starts with the story of the birth of John the Baptist who is apparently a relative of Jesus. Here in Luke the angel comes to Mary to announce the startling news that she will conceive with out the help of a male and bear a son. She goes to visit her relative Elizabeth for three months. In Luke Mary and Joseph live in Nazareth and go to Bethlehem to register for a Roman tax. That was a rough trip for a pregnant woman. Luke has humble shepherds’ come to visit Jesus. They take Jesus to the temple where to prophets Simon and Anna proclaim him the one. After all that the family returns to Nazareth with no detours.

In the Gospel According to John what we have of the Christmas story is all from the point of view of heaven “The Word” became flesh and dwelt among us. John is all about God’s side of the story.

Since the first century Christians have combined Matthew and Luke birth narratives and added many human traditions about the story that are not in the bible text. Just where did that drummer boy come from?

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

A Muslim Christmas Greeting

This Message appeared in today's Louisville Newspaper I am delighted to share it with you.

‘I am overjoyed at the sights and sounds of Christmas’
The Christmas season is now simply referred to as the holiday season. It has become taboo to wish a Christian friend, co-worker, business associate, or a client, a Merry Christmas. The rationalization behind this transformation is that the word Christmas may be “offensive” to non-Christians. I am not quite sure how this trend started. Was it requested or demanded by the easily offended, or was it an unsolicited act of giving and accommodating, for which Christianity and its followers are famous? Whatever the reason, as a Muslim, I want to make it clear to Christians of this great country and the world that I am not, at all, offended by the word Christmas.

Far from being offended, I am overjoyed at the sounds and sights of Christmas. How can a festival that is important to 2 billion people of the world be offensive to anyone with even a semblance of sanity or an iota of fairness? Contrarily, I am offended when someone thinks that I may be offended by hearing the sounds of Christmas or encountering a Christmas tree. I am quite sure that many Muslims, Hindus, Jews and other non-Christians share my feeling.

It is unfair, inhuman, discriminatory and un-American to ask or expect Christians to refer to Christmas, a time of great emotional, religious and cultural significance in Christianity, by a wrong name. Even if this change of nomenclature was initiated by Christians themselves as an act of graciousness, it is the moral duty of non-Christians to insist that this change should be reversed.

Would Muslims want the beautiful connotation of Eid Mubarak replaced? Would Hindus want the majesty of Happy Diwali substituted? Would Jews want the glory of Happy Hanukkah made irrelevant? I hope not. Human equality should not and must not create the need to dilute the heartwarming glows of the diversity of various cultural and religious festivals.

Every fair society ensures, as America has, that the “tyranny of the majority” does not exist among its midst, but the dissolution of this “tyranny” must not engender the tyranny of the minorities.

To my Christian brothers and sisters, I say: I wish you a Merry Christmas; I hope that you enjoy your beautiful Christmas trees, in this season of love, joy and sharing. By the way, Merry Christmas to me too.

SIDDIQUE MALIK

Louisville 40245

Sunday, December 22, 2013

About all those GIFTS

I want to call your attention to a part of Christmas that adults often overlook. And this aspect of the holidays is just as important and beneficial as giving. I want you to take a moment to think about…receiving gifts. That may sound strange to think about “getting” instead of giving during Christmas.

Yet during these next few days you’ll be receiving so much. You’ll be given gifts, well-wishes, greetings, party ivitations, hugs, smiles, cookies, decorations, etc. The list goes on and on – whether you have small children in your life or not. In fact, you’ll undoubtedly be getting these things whether you actively celebrate Christmas not!

How you receive a gift of any kind reflects how you feel about yourself and about your worth as a human being. Enjoying a gift, relishing in the thoughtfulness and love inherent in its presentation, lets you know that you find yourself deserving of such things. It also honors and exalts the giver; don’t you love it when someone truly enjoys one of your gifts?

So this Christmas don’t play “humble” when you’re given one of the multitudes of gifts you’ll receive. Instead thank the abundant love and generosity of both the gift giver and the love of God in the greatest gift of all.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

A Very Lean Christmas

Early in our marriage the budget was tight, very tight. Christmas was coming and with it expenses that we did not have the income to sustain.We wanted to give the children a good Christmas experience and what was left in our gifts budget was not much. It was a painful thought to have a lean Christmas for our selves but that is what we faced.

After a long discussion we decided not to get wrappeable gifts for each other. Instead we would fill a Christmas stocking with small inexpensive items for each other. These items included each others favorite candies, little personal things and we would each make coupons good for personal service during the coming year. They included back rubs, foot massages and other special things.

It was ment to be for that year only but it became a tradition in our home that survives to this day. It is a great tradition the reminds us that giving in honor of the birth of Jesus does not have to put us in deep debt. I am working on my coupons tonight.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

My Prayer Times

There are some days that are filled with worries from the previous day and I wake up praying and go to bed that night praying. Other days are filled with bliss and I awake praying that the coffee is ready because I really don't have anything urgent to pray about. When all is well and life is good we tend to be less prayerful.

When my days flow nicely and all is well I have a great time to reflect on my blessings and say prayers of thankfulness. When I do that I become more aware of those who are not having a good day and lift up prayers of support. Wether I kneel in prayer seeking answers or in prayer of thinksgiving I am changed by my going to God with an open spirit.

Prayer changes everything in me and I see and act in a new light. I may get answers I need and I may become the answer to someone else's prayer of need. Giving to others in response to Christ is a great answer to my prayer of thanksgiving. Either way I need to pray every day.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Stark Contrast

Christmas.time presents a stark contrast between A Christians Joy of giving to others in honor of Jesus' birth and the gross comercial hype and greed from companies that lust after every cent they can rangle out of our joyful desire. The constant balst from all media seems to leave the true Christmas message of salvation blowing like a straw in the wind.

Pastors do their best to remind their congregations of the “Reason for the Season” but often wonder if even that message gets through. I am confident that it does even if the barage of buy buy buy is constant through Christmas day. In the hearts of true believers on Christmas eve candles are lit and we sing silent night and peace wins out.

Yes we will buy buy buy but we will also know the joy Jesus in our hearts as we give each gift. Open your heart to the baby Jesus and all he did for us while He walked upon the earth.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

A light in the Dark

Many years ago I was a Scout Master for our churches Boy Scout Troop. I loved the week-end hiking and camping trips in central Texas. Sometimes we would camp a mile from the place we had to park the church van and backpack to the camp site. All we had for the week-end camp was what we could carry with us. That included food, eating gear, and tents. The rest we had to get from the land such as fire wood, water, and sometimes extra shelter.

At night we did everything by the light of the camp fire or used a flashlight in the tent or on the way to the latrine. It is amazing how much light a small campfire can produce during the night far away from the city lights. In the darkness even a fire as small as one candle can be seen from a great distance.

I am reminded the the Gospel is God's light for our path in the darkness of a sinful world. We are sometims the living Gospel for others and our small light is enough to guide them through the darkness to the love of Christ and salvation. So let your light shine in the darkness.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Isaiah 9:6
The Prince of Peace

The Gospels are clear that Jesus teaches His disciples to be peace makers with teaching like turn the other cheek, go the second mile and give the shirt off your back. Being a peace maker is not an easy calling. Many people do not understand that vital Christian role and some of them even strike out at the peace maker. There are times when the other person prefers violence and becomes angry at your efforts to make peace.

During the civil rights clashes of the 1960's Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. took Jesus at His word and practice non-violence in confronting the evil of racial hatred. He was attacked by the raciest on both sides and was martyred for the cause. Yet his dream came to pass and this new generation is moving us forward to peace between people. We still have a long way to go but we are getting there day by day.

Today we celebrate Jesus as the Prince of Peace and we pray for peace. I pray that the day will come when the armed forces of every country will only be stationed within their own borders and that we will truly turn our swords in to plow shears.

In the name of the Prince of Peace - Pray for Peace and Make Peace!

PRAYER
Lord Jesus I have promised to follow you all the days of my life as your disciple. Send the Holy Spirit to guide me in the ways of you peace even in the presence of evil. AMEN
Pastor Larry Odom-Groh

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Bill of Rights Day

Today we celebrate our "Bill of Rights" added to our Constitution 222 years ago today.

Some of us don' know what that means but the importance of the Bill of Rights can not be over stated.

To celebrate this day look of the bill of rights and study each one and consider what life is like with out them. There are places in this world where these rights do not exist. Get arrested in one of those countries and you will discover the difference.
Every American should take some time today to thank God that you have those rights.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Christmas Words

We can all see the sights and sounds of Christmas all around us. We can also speak the words of Christmas, words that carry power and feeling. Most of us are most comfortable with the Familiar words like family, friends, fellowship, feasting, trees, lights, surprise and memories. There are also Bible words like love one another, love our neighbor, love the stranger, love our enemies, and love the Lord with all your heart. These all come from the love God shared with us on that first Christmas. Then there are the Season's words like peace, service, sharing, gifts, fairness, honesty, greetings, and have a happy. These are words that flow like a gentle stream from Thanksgiving through New Years. At last there is the Supreme word: Christ, without whom there would be no Christmas. Preachers always want to remind us to keep the Christ in Christmas and I am no different. When every you are speaking the words of Christmas remember that one supreme word that gives us all the rest.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Near Death Conditions


Something went very wrong and my daughter's kidneys shut down. Her son found her when she was mere hours from death and called 911. The hospital was able to treat her in time to save her life but more theraphy was needed and she is still in the hospital recovering. I am also recovering from hearing that from her doctor. I realized at that moment that I really do not wish to out live my daughters and I plan to live a long time.

The thing is that any of us can be in near death conditions without any warrning. Accidents, sickness, in the line of fire from an angry person with a gun can all create conditions that can bring an end to our presence on this earth. Though most of us do not want to think about it all of us need to be ready for that eventuality. All of us will die at some point no matter what we wish otherwise.

Every adlt needs a proper will that get updated from time to time. Every five years is a good time to review you will. If you don't have a will the state will provide one for you and it may not be to your liking. We also need a living will stating what we want done medically in the event that we ca not speak for our selves. Having a statement of our desire for what we want done with our body after death is also important, it is a kindness to our close relatives to do so.


Take some time to think about these things!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Thanksgiving OR Turkey Day

Our culture is constantly in flux and the commercial moves from Thanksgiving and Christmas as words in advertising are being deleted in favor of the nondescript "Turkey Day and Holiday."

This to me is not acceptable! I know why they do it, they do not want to offend anyone and so go to great lengths to offend a lot of people by blurring meaningful terms. Thanks Giving is a great idea in any religion and even for the not religious and is set aside as an  official Holiday.  There are three significant days at years end that can be considered holidays Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa. Some might add Winter Solicits.

I am in favor using the proper terms. How about you?

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Demas Who?


You may recognize a Demas in your church and can give him or her an encouraging word. Demas Who? Demas was a coworker with the Apostle Paul. What an intoxicating experience it must have been to have worked with Saint Paul in the early days of the Christian church. To actually be there at the foundation of the Christian Church would have been wonderful. The story of Demas starts out wonderful but unfolds in a sad way.

In verse 24 of Philemon Paul refers to Demas and others as "Fellow Workers" who send greetings. He is also given honorable mention in Colossians 4:14. However in II Timothy 4:10 Paul ask Timothy to come back because, "Demas in love with this present world, has deserted and gone to Thessalonica." How sad Paul must have been to write those last words on a friendship. A once exciting relationship became listless, superficial and finally nonexistent because of worldly distractions.

Some people are this way with their Church relationship. At first everything is exciting feeling the love of God and the love of sisters and brothers in faith. Then like Demas other opportunities begin to call them away. Occasionally missing worship at first then more often until they are hardly ever in worship. When that happens it's time for spiritual renewal. It is always good to begin anew, no one ever feels bad about renewal, only separation makes you feel sad. We don't know what happened to Demas at Thessalonica, perhaps he rejoined the faith and helped make that congregation great. Who knows?

What really matters is your personal journey in faith. If you are a Demas, is it time for your spiritual renewal? You are always welcome to renew your faith because we true believers rejoice in renewals.


Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Daughter report

I have not had much time to write here this week. I ma in KC with my daughter Katherine. She contacted a nasty virus that created a lesion on her spinal cord. It robbed her of the use of her arms and leg. Treatment and therapy have restored some of her abilities. She  will get more PT at home for a few months.

Keep her in your prayers please.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Missing Opportunity ???

Sometimes we throw away opportunity because we fear failure more.  There is a little known tidbit about a blockbuster movie of the 1980s.  Early in 1982, a movie executive went to the M & M Company to make arrangements to use their little candies, M&Ms in an upcoming movie. The movie script included visitors from outer space who like candy. The M & M vice president said no, he did not want their product used that way.  So the film produce went to the company that makes Reece’s Pieces, and they accepted the offer. So in E.T., the little space child is lured out of hiding by a trail of Reece’s pieces instead of M & Ms. Reece’s stock went up—and the M & M vice president was looking for a job.

We can receive the blessings of opportunity is many forms—in health, or education, or citizenship.  We night enjoy athletic ability, beauty, or intelligence. We may be skillful with our hands, or able to travel or sing. Maybe we are talented in making money or creating art.


Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Things My Mother Taught Me

Many years ago when mom was starting to loose her memory I created and framed this poster for mom's room in the nursing home. My sister Jeannie brought it to the church for display at her Celebration of Life service. The photo was her Senior picture.


Things my Mother taught me:

First to love Jesus with all my heart all the time.
Second to love others more than my self.
Third to always do my best.
Fourth to keep learning all my life.


Monday, November 11, 2013

Inherited Token

Front
reverse
           


My mother inherited a token from her Uncle Frank Baum who owned a furniture store in Quincy and used these brass tokens for advertising in the 1930’s. I inherited it from her.

Veterans Day 2013



Once again it is Veterans Day and what used to be called Armistice Day. Today we honor all our vets and remember their sacrifice in serving our country.



As a Viet Nam veteran I served in the US Navy on the USS Kearsarge patrolling the coast of North Viet Nam in 1964. Others paid a bigger price than I did in that terrible war and I honor their lives lost in combat. Many of our vets lived to carry the scars of PTSD to this day.

We are still making wounded veterans and I pray that our government will take better care of them than it did of my fellow Viet Nam vets. It does not look like they will and congress haggles over dollars for the VA at a time of war creating a flood of wounded man and women returning and seeking help.

This is Veterans Day – fly your flag and remember.


Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Mother and Me in 1942


This picture of of my mother hold me in 1942 which was 71 years a go.  What a wonderful life we shared.

I have been thinking about the death of my mother in Texas. She had changed since her 90th birthday last year. It is a very noticeable change and not for the better. Many mini strokes over the years had already robbed her of the ability to make new memories but she always knew who I was and was with the moment.

This past year she broke her hip and spent time in the hospital and has been in decline ever since. She looked very frail and was no longer in the moment or knew who I am. We just went with the flow of her conversation of what ever moment she was in and enjoy being with her. I am so thankful for the care my sister Jeannie gave her. What a blessing my Sister and brother Garland have been over the years.

My mother was always a rock of faith and love for me and my siblings. Because of her I am the man I am today able to live and be at peace with God. I know that her great faith is still with a part of me and even though she is no longer with us that she will be in the arms of God forever. I am at peace with that and honor her life as a woman of Proverbs 31.


I love my mom and thank God for the life she lived.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

A Vision of Jesus



In 1999 three of my friends from the archeology dig, at Ashkelon, and I rented a car and drove up to Galilee. While visiting Capernaum we went up on the mountain where it is believed Jesus gave the Sermon on the Mount. Standing there I looked out over the Sea of Galilee and thought of Jesus and His Disciples on that very place almost two thousand years ago. I thought about all the teachings and commands Jesus gave the twelve and others who followed him.

As I pondered these facts I also thought about the vision of the Christian Church Jesus started there and how it has grown. I thought about Jesus last command in Matthew 28:19, “Go, therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember that I am with you always.”

Eleven of the twelve disciples started the First Christian Church of Jerusalem on Pentecost and churches began to spread out from there. Though out Judea, Galilee, and up and down the coast new churches were started one after the other. The vision Jesus gave them was taking hold every where, and they were building the church.

Through the years many men and women have caught the vision from Jesus to go and build His Church. The vision of making Disciples and teaching them all that Jesus taught. One of the men who became a vision builder of churches early on was Paul. The First Christian Church of Corinth was one that Paul started. Paul wrote to them about his participation in the vision of Christ for the Church.

Capture in your mind and heart the total commitment that Paul and others had to proclaiming the Gospel and building churches. Paul started new congregations every where he went. It was his passion and his love. Will you make it your passion too?


Monday, November 4, 2013

Renew Your Mind


Paul wrote in Romans:
"Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God." Romans 12:2

Paul’s words are powerful we are to be transformers. "Be transformed by the renewing of your minds." Paul thought it vitality important that we use the gifts of our minds. There are those who believe that you must put your brains in neutral when you enter the doors of the church. That simply is not true! God wants us to use the intellect as a very special gift. What matters is what we put into our minds in the first place.

Consider what Paul told the Philippians:
"Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things." Philippians 4:8

Think about these things! What is it that YOU think about? Does your mind dwell on things that are honorable, positive, just, worthy of praise? Positive loving thoughts lead to positive lover actions. God gave you a mind to use. What are you doing with it? If you are concentrating on good and godly thoughts, then you are renewing your mind according to Paul's instructions.

And you are the only one who has control over what you are thinking. It is your choice! What ever you focus your mind on is your choice! Praising God and sin against God both happen in the mind long before there is any action by mouth or hands. It is your choice to love God and God's other children OR to live in sin. Sin being, to not love others and therefore not love God so renew your own mind.


Sunday, November 3, 2013

ALL Saints Day


When the Apostle Paul wrote to congregations he often included the phrase of greetings to all the saints. For Paul the term saints included all those who had been baptized into Christ. Every follower of Jesus was a saint by definition.  Hundreds of years later the now organized church redefined the term saint to mean some one who had been especially good or a martyr. Even later they added the qualification that the person to be declared a saint must have preformed a miracle after death. 

I much prefer Paul’s idea of saint! Often when teaching bible studies on Paul’s letters I note that difference and start calling class members saint + their name. In one class I turned to a woman and called her, “Saint Joyce” and her husband who was also in the class cried out, “Oh no Pastor Larry you don’t know what you have just done to me.” She was Saint Joyce from then on. No matter where she traveled she let people know that she was Saint Joyce.


Are you a follower of Jesus? Then add  your Saint to your name and smile.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Post 1000 - Saints and Demons

We will soon celebrate “All Saints Day” and society will make “All Hollows Eve” also known as Halloween.  The saints of the first-century were men and women of flesh and blood, the same as you and I. They are people who had life to live day in and day out, but who also had a first hand interest in the Church, and worship of God.  The church began to celebrate November first as All Saints Day and it wasn’t long before superstitious people began to fear that the souls of recent dead would walk the earth on all hallows eve.

Europeans began to do things to ward off the spirits of the dearly departed and a number of traditions developed around that idea. Here in America we turned it into a fund evening for children who could dress up and extract sweets from their neighbors. The greeting card and candy people didn’t waste any time jumping on that idea and the prequel to All Hallows day became a bigger celebration than the day itself.

Enjoy your All Hallows Eve and then All Saints Day.


Wednesday, October 30, 2013

What God Requires

As preacher I read a lot of religious items and many of them are all about rules we must all obey. The lists are long depending on your particular religion. Some of us seem to need a list of rules to make our lives function. Others want a free flowing life style but still needs an idea of where we are going. The bible provides both lots of rules and a general path through life.

You can find rules for almost everything in the Bible many of them human rules for obeying the Ten Commandments. Some say the reason there are only ten commandments is that God didn't use a committee and Leviticus and Deuteronomy are the committee reports.

 This morning my devotions took me to Micah 6:8 which read in the NIV “And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” That short verse actually sums up the entire list of rules. Instead of noting must do details it lays out relationships with God and one another.

1.     To act justly: In your dealing with others always do what ever in right in that relationship.
2.     To love mercy: Again in relationships be kind to one another in word and deed.
3.     To walk humbly with God: This pulls the other two in to focus as we recognize our relationship with God in everything we say and do.

I strive to let this verse be my guide in daily living loving God and loving my neighbor in all my actions and relationships.


Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Excuses


Jesus said, "Follow Me" Have you ever, thought how often the first thing Jesus said to a person began with an imperative verb? A challenge to act was his way. So he spoke these words to Peter and Andrew to come and follow him. Take some action was his request to the servants at the marriage feast to fill the water pots, to the woman at the well to give him a drink, and the lame man to take up his bed and walk.

So many times Jesus said, "Follow Me!"

Even today, when we honestly come face to face with Jesus the Christ, he calls us to follow him. It is not just to believe but to follow. As we take action on his commands our insights of faith and our qualities of Christian character begin to grow. But these things only come after we commit to walk after him and take that first step on faith.

So many people clearly hear the call to follow Jesus. They believe in him but then hold back when it comes to actually following. They make excuses, often to themselves as much as to the Lord. The Christian life will be a transforming experience for any person who determines to answer Christ's call to follow him. The power of the Christian life is in the daily walk with Jesus. It will include acts of kindness and love along with the basic and simple act of good daily devotion, prayer, and humble obedience.

Jesus calls all of us to take Action. But so many people make excuses for not saying yes to Jesus. They want to put off the decision until the very last thing. Emperor Constantine – the first Christian Roman Emperor had a priest follow him around with orders to baptize him if he was about to die.

We all make excuses to rationalize and justify our failure to take action. Like the man whose neighbor always wanted to borrow his tools. One day when the neighbor ask to borrow his lawn mower, He said, "Can't do it, I'm coming down with a cold." "Well" said the neighbor, "that's a dumb excuse; your cold won't affect my mowing the lawn." "No but any excuse will do if I don't want to loan you the mower."


Monday, October 28, 2013

Criticizing Politics


At least here in Kentucky where our senior senator is running for re-election next year and has a primary opponent the mud slinging has already started. For the next twelve months we are in for a lot of political punishing criticizing from both Republicans and Democrats. Both sides will spend millions on ads telling us how bad the other side will be if elected. It really won’t make any difference as both parties are so corrupt that they are bought and paid for and often by the same people.

Friedrich Nietzeche wrote, “Let us stop thinking so much about punishing, criticizing, and improving others. Instead, let us rather raise ourselves that much higher. Let us color our own example with ever more vividness.”

Where are the statesmen who can lead by positive example and provide our country with vision and pride? All we seem to have now are politicians who seek only re-election term after term. I think it is our own fault as we keep re-electing them to office all the while wondering why the other states keep voting for their crooked politicians.

What can we do? One of the things I have been doing for years is to seek out the positive statements and double and triple fact check all the negative statements. It is unfortunate that most of us blindly accept what our “guy” says as truth and condemn the other side as lies. I usually start with the idea that both may be lying and check it out. I often wind up voting third party in protest.

I am praying for America.



Sunday, October 27, 2013

Is it right to apologize for the past?

 

From time to time governments and people find it necessary to apologize for events of the past.
What difference can an apology make now?

England sent orphans and poor children were sent to Australia, Canada and elsewhere for a “better life”, but many were abused and ended up in institutions or as laborers on farms. Was the British government trying to do what was best for the children or just getting them out of their way? Who was really at fault? Who knows today?

The US apologized to Japanese/Americans for internment during WWII, to native Americans for lots of injuries, and to black Americans for slavery. 

Should governments apologize for past policies and events? Does an apology go far enough? Can current governments really make amends for actions taken in their history? Can people make amends for things their ancestors did?
I can make an apology for things I have done but I don’t feel that I need to or can apologize for the things my father did. History is full of wrong doings that are long past. We can acknowledge that they happened and even be sad that it happened but never make amends for what another person did.

How far must we go in dealing with the past? We can learn from past mistakes and press on to a better future for all by striving to not make the same mistakes now. Our problem is that we are humans prone to making new mistakes and usually for selfish reasons. We must never stop learning from the past, good our bad, and strive for a better tomorrow.


Saturday, October 26, 2013

Life Is Uncertain


An old saying is, “Life is hard and then you die.” For most of us that is the truth. Life is not only hard but also uncertain as none of us knows what tomorrow might bring our way. One day everything is peachy and the next an accident or illness can send us into a tail spin. All is going the way we want and then we loose our job when the stock market crashes and in short order we are the ones in the welfare line.

What happens next depends on the strength of our spirit and will to not only survive but to rise to the challenge before us. One person makes a come back and another slides in to depression. What makes the difference? Just as life is full of disappointments it is also full of opportunities. In the worst conditions there is always a way through to joy.

Your faith is the starting point for your success. The strength of your personal spirit is important and should be nourished in the best of times so that it will take you through the worst of times. Your uncertainty also works the other way for you can be in the dumps and turn the corner and find a new opportunity in your path that changes everything. Your strong faith keeps you looking around that next corner. Hang in there and keep your faith strong at all times.


Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Who Did Cain Marry?


I always look forward to the arrival of a new edition of Biblical Archaeology Review in my mail box. It always has very interesting and thought provoking articles to stimulate my thinking. This months copy has one called “Who Did Cain Marry?” by Mary Joan Winn Leith.

It lifts up the age old and biblically unanswered question of who were these other people and where did Can get his wife? There have been many speculations by bible scholars since before the time of Christ. None of the ideas can be proven but it can be fun to stretch our minds and consider the possibilities. 

Some of the ideas I have read over the years:
1.     After God rested on the seventh day he went back to work creating on the eighth day and made other people in different parts of the world.
2.     Incest – Cain took one of his sisters as his wife.
3.     The “others” are people who are not quite human but no explanation of where they come from. Mary Leith states that society often relegates people of other nations to a less than human status as the Egyptians did before the time of Abraham.


What do you think? 

Monday, October 14, 2013

Children With Dyslexia


I was serving a church in a small city and knew a number of teachers in the elementary school. At a community meeting I was engaged in a discussion about problem children in the school. One teacher was venting that one boy was dyslexic and would be stupid all his life. I asked her why she thought that and she replied that there was no cure for dyslexia and no hope for those with it. I looked at her and said, “I that is not true, I am a dyslexic and while I have to work harder than most people I have made it. There are therapies that can be of great help for that boy.” The result of that conversation was that the boy got help and the teacher learned a lot about advances in dyslexia treatment.

I was blessed when I was in elementary school and was having trouble with spelling and reading. No one in our small town knew about dyslexia and I was not diagnosed until I was in collage.  My mother was the one who took charge and helped me. She did not know what the trouble was either but her love and instinct saved me from being shunted aside as being stupid in the school system. She would sit down with my spelling list and say the word and spell it and then make me repeat it over and over. I learned to spell by doing that. She also made me read slowly by moving my finger under the words one at a time. I became a reader doing that and I love to read.

At Texas Christian University my drama teacher noticed the difference between my oral exams and written exams and recognized that I share a problem with her husband, dyslexia. She gave me the name of his doctor and he started me on a therapy that made all the difference. While I still have a lot of trouble reading and writing, yes spelling too, I am able to over come with a lot of patience a disability that could have sidelined me.

Today there is no excuse for not helping children with dyslexia. People have different degrees of difficulty but learning is not impossible even if it all has to be aural it can be done. Never give up on the children just because they are different.


Friday, October 11, 2013

A Father’s Sin


When I was about eight years old I use to play with a friend who lived just down the street and across the ally from us. One day while playing in his front yard I saw my father’s car drive past us and the woman who lived next door was riding in the front seat with him. I didn’t think much about it but when I got home I told my mom and she was not happy with that news.

When dad got home mom told him what I had said. He became angry and accused me of lying. He then beat me with a belt for lying. When I say beat I mean just that and it was severe.


Years later – 30 years – I learned that he knew that I had not lied and that I was punished for his sin. 

Thursday, October 10, 2013

EVERYDAY SAINTS


Christmas items are showing up in the stores so we will soon celebrate “All Saints Day” and society will make more of  “All Hollows Eve” also known as Halloween.  The saints of the first-century were men and women of flesh and blood, the same as you and I. They are people who had work to do day in and day out, but who also had a first hand interest in the Church, and worship of God. 

Please consider the men we call saints who's names are on the books of the New Testament:

1.         Matthew earned his living collecting taxes, the IRS auditor of his day.
2.         Mark was a private secretary.
3.         Luke was a physician.
4.         John, James, and Peter were engage in the fish industry.
5.         Paul was a tent maker.
6.         Timothy and Titus were expert organizers.
7.         Jude was a small landowner.
8.         Philemon was a possessor of an enviable list of diversified securities.

It was lay men and women, not angels, who had surrendered their lives to Jesus, who built the Church. It is still lay men and women, who having surrendered their lives to Jesus, continue to build the Church and change the world. It is your faith in action in your daily life, committed to Christ that will make the difference in this world. As you plan for all of the sacred days coming up at the last part of the year with All Saints Day, Thanksgiving, Advent and Christmas to keep it spiritual.


Remember the people of the New Testament as you think about your role in the life and work of the Church. You are also an EVERYDAY SAINT.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Things we can not change


There are things in life we cannot alter. We can try but it only leads to frustration. Mother Nature brings storms and violent actions that damage our living space and we can not stop that from happening. War happens and people we love die and we can not change that. Other people do things that cause us grief and we must deal with the fall out in our lives.

 

Things have happened in the past that affect us but they are beyond our repair. Until we recognize the reality of the past as it was and everyone in it as they were, the past will control us. If we let it all stand as history and simply let it be we can find peace with in us. Then we can create a peaceful now and a peaceful future. If we learn from the past we can keep from repeating the mistakes and grow as a person and as a society.

 It is how we live out this day that affects our lives and the lives of those around us. Each choice in the now matters in our future so each point of change is under our control for that moment. So let us live each day to the fullest, loving God and loving others in each action we take. 

Saturday, October 5, 2013

A Christian Nation

I was watching a TV news program and a man in Texas was complaining about foreign religions infiltrating into our “Christian Nation” and we needed to put a stop to it. There are others like him and I do not think that they understand the term “Christian Nation” or they would not make those statements. Perhaps they would any way for that is what they think they want. While we are a country whose citizens are predominately members of the Christian faith, we are not now nor have we ever been a “Christian Nation” and as a Protestant Christian Pastor I do not want us to be so.

The term “Christian Nation” denotes a country that has established an official relationship with a Christian church. England is a “Christian Nation” because it has established an official Church/State relationship with the Church of England. Queen Elizabeth is officially the head of the Church of England. Spain is a “Christian Nation” because it has established an official Church/State relationship with the Roman Catholic Church. There are also Islamic Nations and Buddhist Nations where the government has official standing with their religions.

Our founding fathers established this country as one that provides us with total freedom of religion with a clear separation of church and state. As a Christian Pastor I believe that freedom has been a major blessing for the Christian faith in America. With great wisdom they placed in our constitution the first amendment:

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

We have always had other faiths than the Christian faith in our country and their rights to freedom of religion have been respected here. There are over three hundred denominations of Christian church in the USA and their rights of freedom of expression in the practice of their faith are respected here. That would not be true in a country where a religion has been established as a state religion. Think about it folks we do not want the government telling us what church to belong to, not even my church.





Friday, October 4, 2013

Keeping up with Technology

One of my volunteer positions is to teach computer use to residents of a retirement living center in downtown Louisville. The computer is only four years old but the printer is ten. The printer works fine but has started leaking ink and we have not been able to figure out why. The result of all this was a decision to replace the leaking printer with a new one.

I was given the task of shopping for a new printer with a budget of a hundred dollars. I thought will that will be easy. I should have expected to face what happened instead of being easy it was a challenge. Printer technology has evolved so that the choices are better if you are setting up a new system. The retirement center resident’s computer needs a cable connected printer that is a printer only. We really have to keep it as simple as possible.

Shopping for a unit that only prints and can be connected by a USB cable took more time and effort than I thought it would. Online and in stores are all these wireless all in one printers that are so wonderful. They will connect via wireless to your computer [newer models] and your smart phone or tablet. They will not only print but copy, scan and put out the trash.


I did manage to find what I needed at Target and it was on clearance sale. It was the last one in the store that met my needs. This printer better last a long time as I don’t think that I will be able to find a replacement. 

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Popularity Polls

Way back when I was an undergraduate I took a class in statists at Texas Christian University. What an eye opener for public polling.   Looking for stats? What stats do you want? It is all in how you ask the questions and who you ask. Most national pollsters today like Pew Research do a good job of random polling to get a good sample of what people think. But even they sometimes get it really wrong. Governor Romney had so many polls that showed him winning that he only wrote a victory speech.

Today we are in the midst of an argument over health care and the polls are all over the place and it all depends on who you ask what question. If you ask about the “Affordable Care Act” you get a positive set of results but if you ask the same people about “Obamacare” you get a negative set of answers. It is all in how you phrase the questions.


I am skeptical when a politician says, “The American people want ….  [You can fill in the blank]! Of course they will state that the American people want what the speaker wants. Americans are a diverse people and we don’t all want the exact same thing and politicians need to wake up to that fact. 

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Non-Essentials


I woke up this morning to the headline that the Government was shut down. Funding for the government has run out and non-essential people have been sent home with out pay. I wonder how that feels to be declared non-essential. Does this mean that these people are not needed? Some in congress might think so but then some of us might think that about congress.

It is more of a government slowdown than a shut down and I can understand the frustrations on both sides of congress. Perhaps congress should work without pay during this time. I would say that they are non-essentials but they are the only ones who can deal with the issue. That leaves the rest of us dealing with the children in congress crying “It’s not my fault.” when in fact it is all their faults.

My opinion is that a bill in congress should focus on only the item at hand and not be weighed down with extraneous issues. I wonder how long the federal government can operate with non-essentials staying at home; this problem will not end with this one item being fixed because one side or another will do the same thing with the next item coming up.



Monday, September 30, 2013

Reflections

In a "Peanuts" comic strip, good old Charlie Brown is reading while Lucy swings. He says, "It says here that the world revolves around the sun once a year." Lucy gets this totally stunned look on her face and says, "The world revolves around the sun? Are you sure? I thought it revolved around me."



          We all know people like that, people who think the world revolves around them, and when we have to deal with folks like that, one of our immediate responses is, "How dare you?" Yet in our world we have to deal with those who are self centered and not Christ centered and we must reflect Christ in their presence. How else will they come to know him except through us?

Monday, September 23, 2013

The Anniversary Gift

My darling and I recently celebrated out thirty-fifth anniversary. I usually give her some jewelry but this year she said that has too much of that and that she didn't want anything. Well she always says she doesn't want a present but I always do get her one. This year she was insistent that she has quiet enough baubles to take care of.

She has been talking about getting a food processor for some time but has never gotten around to spending the money to purchase one. With that in mind this year I went shopping for a food processor, even though I don’t like giving appliances as an anniversary gift. I found the best Cuisinart food processor available. She was delighted, though chiding me for spending that kind of money on her. I truly love this woman!

Now she is having a ball using the processor and I guess I could not have picked a better gift this year. I may get to use it too.


Sunday, September 22, 2013

First Day of Fall


Fall has arrived and we awoke to a cool day, almost chilly as I went out to get the morning paper. The days are getting notably shorter as far as light goes and the night is longer. It is good sleeping weather. Leaves are starting to fall in the back yard and that is a harbinger of an avalanche of leaves to come in the next few months.

Now is the time to think about and prepare for winter. I must call the chimney sweep and get my kindling ready for winter fires. Soon I will stop cleaning the BBQ grill and start cleaning the glass fire place doors. Hmmm the chores never end do they?

Life is good and I think God for every day that I share with my darling.


Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Changing Values


I have learned a lot during the remodeling of my bathroom. Any thing that involves changes in carpentry, plumbing, electric and pain must be done in certain order to make it work correctly. Even then a small development can throw you off schedule.

The other day the carpenter was about to install a 1 x 4 face board to an original 2 X 4 stud. They had to go buy a 1 X 6 and cut it to four inches wide. This stud was put in place in the 1950’s and it turned out that it was actually two inches by four inches. Today the norm for a 2 X 4 lumber is 1½ by 3½ much small and weaker than the old 2 X 4 of 1953.

In 1953 lumber standards were changed and the 2 X 4 could be cut and sold at 1¾ x 3¾ and still be call a two by four. In 1964 it was reduced to the present size of a half inch shorter. The length has also been reduced. The eight foot board is not two inches shorter. Go figure at this rate how long will it be till the 2 X 4 is really a 1 X 3?


There are many changing values in this world. Many products we purchase today cost more and have less in them. I have an old three pound coffee can that actually held three pounds tightly packed. 

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Constitution Day

On this Constitution Day I thought it would be a good idea to celebrate and reflect on the preamble of the US Constitution established 226 years ago.

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, Insure Domestic Tranquility, Provide for the common defense, promote the General Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

This statement tells us about the purpose of the Government of the United States.

1. Form a more perfect Union: Not that it will be perfect but more perfect than the Articles of Confederation that was then in effect. We have been perfecting and sometimes defecting our union for over two hundred years. It is an ongoing process as you can see from the number of amendments thus far.

2. Establish Justice: Our rights are protected and we have a system to correct wrongs.

3. Insure Domestic Tranquility:  This is keeping the peace between peoples in the country. Law and Order.

4. Provide for the Common Defence: Our Navy, Marines, Army, Air Force and in war time Coast Guard. 

5. Promote the General Welfare: A lot of people forget that welfare in in the constitution. Food stamps, Social Security, health care, jobs programs, are all constitutional under this clause.

6. Secure the blessings of liberty:  Personal liberty for every US Citizen is perhaps one of the most important elements of our constitution. 

I invite you to dwell on these thoughts today and give thanks that we have our wonderful 226 year old Constitution of the United States of America


Saturday, September 14, 2013

Children Asking Questions


Nine year old Johnny was watching his mother as she sat praying! He watched her intently but he knew better than to disturb her till she finished. When he heard "AMEN," the questions began to flow.

MOM, Why do you close your eyes when you pray?

His mother got down to his level, looked at him for a moment and said: "Well, Johnny, it helps me shut out things which I might see, things which would side tract me from prayer."

Silence

MOM, Can you pray with your eyes open?  

"Sure, honey, but closing my eyes helps me concentrate.  What's this all about? "O I see you praying every day."

Silence -

MOM, Why do you bow your head when you pray?

Pleased that her son had been so observant she responded, "This is my way of showing respect to God. I bow my head  to show that I am willing to humble myself and do what God wants me to do."  

Silence

MOM, Does folding your hands in your lap while you pray get your prayers to God faster?

  "No, Johnny it only helps me keep them in place so their movements won't disturb me."   

Silence

MOM, How do I make up my own prayers?

 "That's easy! Just think of your prayer as a letter to God, like a letter to a very special friend."

MOM, Do you mean I just start out `Dear God?'


  "Honey, knowing what I do about God, that would please God just fine. God wants to talk to you just like we are doing right now.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Understanding God's Time and Our Time


Kronos is the Greek word for the divisions that define the movement of time. The sense of timing--the right moment or progression—is expressed by the word kairos. While we often feel captive to kronos, we may be more anxious about kairos.  Is this the right decision or opportunity? How can I be sure?  

“It’s time, “ she said,  “He has struggled long enough, and deserves to be at peace.”

“It’s time,” he said,  “I am lonely in this big old house. Since I can’t drive anymore, I can’t get out like I used to.”

We are astonished at how quickly the years of adulthood pass. How recently we were busy with marriage, children, hobbies and the responsibilities of work, household, and community groups. The realization that these things are no longer a part of our lives, changes our thinking. ??? Now we know that our interests, energy, and abilities have changed—we are shocked, maybe saddened.

  The marking of time now dominates our living:  clocks, calendars, deadlines, schedules, anniversaries, and milestone events. And our perception of time changes over the years. Time flows quickly for the young, filled with the new and exciting. There is never enough in the middle years to meet all the demands.  As we get older, the days seem slower, yet the changes in body, mind, and circumstances come too soon.

In a nursing home or even home alone time passes so slowly that it feels like no one visits anymore. It is not that the passage of seconds and hours has change but only our perception has changed. At each age we are caught in our own understanding of time and here is where we can reflect on the meaning of life. The Resurrection of Jesus Christ was a kronos moment with a kairos meaning. This event that changed human history breaks the tyranny of time and reveals God’s timing for human living. 


It is only when we break the bonds of physical existence that we come to know God’s time and the meaning of Second Peter 3:8, “But do not ignore this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years and a thousand years is like one day.” 

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Remembering Twin Towers

Twelve years ago I remember clearly watching the TV in utter shock as the twin towers were struck and then fell. I still feel the pain. Who would believe that we are still fighting a war because of that?


How could anyone do that? How could young men go against their own religion and kill themselves and so many innocent people?  It was beyond belief and understanding and we are still striving to comprehend the enormity of it all. Since then it got us into two wars with many thousands more dead. The memory still carries a lot of pain and will for decades to come. Like the news of Pearl Harbor for my parents I will always remember that moment when the world changed.


So much has happened since then and because of those attacks. We were right to go after those who did the deed in Afghanistan but it was stupid to divert funds and troops from that effort to attack Iraq.  We need to find ways to quell the anger and seek peace. I Pray for peace in our world every day. 

Today there is a new taller and better World Trade Center tower. Tonight twin lights will shiner up from the top of it and remind the world of who we are.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Religious Diversity in Louisville


Louisville Kentucky like most of America has a great diversity of religions. This was evident when recently a major Hindu temple was dedicated in Louisville and over four hundred people attended. This will now be a focal point for Hindu’s from Kentucky, southern Indiana and Tennessee to come and worship. In a nod to American culture they hold their worship services on Sunday.

An interesting note to his event is that they purchased a former Presbyterian church building and converted it into a Hindu Temple. They were happy with the fact that the building had been built for religious uses and consider holy ground. Some years ago two small Presbyterian congregations merged and sold one building to a developer who in turn sold it to the Hindu sect.


Louisville has almost all the world’s religions represented here. 

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Past Present Future


Past, present and future: this is not about grammar but more about where we are. We always live in this state of being and how we view it is important to our success in life.

PAST: The past is history and we can not change it but how we view the past can change us. Many of us ignore the past and are doomed to repeat the mistakes made there. Some of us are stymied by our remembrances’ of the “Good Old Days”  and live there rather than the present. The successful person will learn from both the mistakes and successes of the past and use that knowledge to press on to greater success in our present.

PRESENT:  Here we are in the present. This is where we live all the time so what are we going to do with it? Is our present filled with thoughts of what could have been or day dreams about what might be if only?  Living in the reality of the moment can be a key stone for living successfully. What you do with your now determines everything else, make it count.

FUTURE: One way or another, this is where we are all going. Each one of us has a place in the future and the possibilities are wide open. What goals do we set for ourselves and what is our step by step plan for reaching our goals? Our day dreams can be important for success if the dream becomes a goal and a path is laid out for reaching it. Planning early and taking action is the key to success.


Remember your past, live in your present and plan for your future. Success is all up to you. 

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Hobson’s Choice


We often believe that we Americans have a great freedom of choice but truth be told we are not always free to make the choices we might like, because there are often restrictions that are out of our control. Success is usually a case of knowing when you can make a choice and when you can not.

I am reminded of a figure of speech that is called “Hobson’s Choice” that describes any situation for which there are no alternatives. T his comes from an eccentric livery stable owner named Hobson who lived in seventeenth-century England. Hobson insisted, as and unbreakable rule, that his customers seeking to rent a saddle horse from him must either take the animal who happened to be tethered nearest the door or take none at all. There is your choice take what is offered or walk. Sometimes it is better to walk than to take a runaway horse.


As Christians we will face many choices. Some of them will be wonderful and some will be difficult but the virtue of the Christian life is to find the goodness of God in whatever choice we are called on to make. What do we choose to let dominate our lives? We are ready to face our choices only when we are ready to look for the will of God in each decision. To pray over each choice to discover the goodness of God in all we do in His name. 

Monday, September 2, 2013

The WWW Questions


When I traveled to Jordan I was stopped by customs agents coming and going. Both the Jordanian and American customs agents asked me three questions before letting me pass. 
Who are you?
Where are you going?
What do you have to declare?

These are good questions for Christians to ask of ourselves as we look to the future. These are good focus questions to help us with the challenge of being Christians in our fast changing world. We can restate them as:
Who are we?,
Where are we going?,
What do we have to declare?

Who are we? As Christians, what is our role in our community and the world? How do we define our relationships with God, the Christian Church, other Christians and most importantly non-Christians?

Where are we going? More to the point what is God calling us to do and be as a part of God’s mission? Are we just sitting here doing nothing? Are we going in the right direction? Are we going fast enough?

What do we have to declare? What is our witness to a world in need of God’s love about the Gospel of Jesus the Christ? In deed do we bother to declare the Gospel to non-Christians? 


The answers to these questions are significant for marking the difference between a healthy growing church and a social club that has religious overtones. My goal is that my answers will reflect a life dedicated and faithful to Jesus Christ and his mission.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Who were the other people?

 A girl asked her mother, “Mommy, who were the other people?” "What other people?" "You know Adam and Eve were the first people, so who did their children marry?"
Now here is a great question. First the Bible does not tell us who they were or where they came from only that they were there. This is one of those many missing details the bible does not tell us about. There are a lot of theories but no proofs.
A Few Theories:
1.     On the eighth day after creation – remember God rested on the seventh day – God got back to work creating and made more people in various parts of the earth.
2.     Adam and Eve had more children than we are told and there was necessary incest going on.
3.     They just showed up and no one knows from where.

I like number one best ---- Remember how many thousands of years that story was passed down by word of mouth from one generation to the next so some confusion is bound to slip in.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Ancient Witness


The forty-plus writers of the Bible give us their witness of their growing relationship with God. Their life stories were a lot like ours. Life was a hard struggle then as it is now. Even with advanced technology, our basic struggles are the same. We face the same temptations to sin against God and against other people, just as they did. Some of them obeyed God and were blessed, and some of them turned away from God and paid the price of their folly. We can learn from their successes and mistakes that God is quick to forgive those who repent and love. If you find that life is just too much, turn to your Bible, and you will find that someone before you has faced the same problem and has given you a witness for overcoming that problem with power and faith.

It is ironic that in the age of super fast computers, when our access to knowledge and information exceeds any previous age, that confusion is rampant. It is not the new and improved that we need to seek but the oldest source of wisdom and strength, God’s Word. The words and witness of the prophets of the Old Testament and the saints of the New Testament tell us that faith is more powerful than doubt, that hope is more potent than despair, and that only God’s love can conquer those forces within us.