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How Good Do We Have to Be?

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This is the title of a book written by Harold S. Kushner. Full disclaimer: before seeing this book on a shelf along with several other used books, I had never heard of either the author or the book, therefore I have no idea of its contents.

What intrigued me about it however was the title, because this is THE question that people have been asking for thousands of years.

Just how much do I have to do, and how good is good enough to make it into heaven?

We all know that the underlying belief system for many people is one based upon works. If you’re a good enough person, meaning that at the end of your life your good deeds outweigh the bad, that’s all that’s required to gain entrance into heaven.

If you’re like me, you’ve heard this all of your life. That’s how pervasive this belief is.

So, is it possible to be ‘good enough’?  If so, how exactly do you measure what ‘good enough’ is? Is there a sliding scale or barometer of ‘good’? Has the criteria for ‘good enough’ been made available to us all?

For the answer to those  questions, let’s go to the official source of information for understanding heaven’s entry fee: God’s Word.

The Psalmist declared that there were none that were good. Not even one!

The Lord looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, and seek God. They are all gone aside, they are all together become filthy: there is none that doeth good, no, not one.   Psalm 14:2,3

Jesus, in response to the question of “Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?”, said “Why do you call me good? there is none good but one, that is, God…”  Matthew 19:16,17

The man that asked Jesus this question was very wealthy, and believed (like many of us) that the key to inheriting eternal life was found in the word ‘good’. He likely thought he could donate a sum of money or possessions, or that by doing a “good thing” it would ensure him entry into heaven.

Unfortunately for this man (and billions like him), the scriptures are clear that any priority placed on ‘good’ is misplaced. That is because ‘good’ as defined by man is never going to be ‘good enough’.

That is why Jesus said that there is no one good, but God.

In other words, apart from God man can never be ‘good enough’ to inherit heaven. If he could, there would have been no need for Jesus to come and offer Himself as a sacrifice for our sins. Indeed, He has died in vain if we ourselves could somehow be ‘good enough’.

If your church or denomination teaches you that God will accept you because of your good works, you are sitting under deception. God will only accept you because he sees that your sins have been covered by the blood of his only Son.

If we were to humble our hearts and really think about it, is there really anything within us that is good, except for the Lord himself? For me personally, I know that the answer to that is NO!

Any good found within me has nothing to do with me, and everything to do with Him!

How about you?

Be blessed,

Ron

 

 

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The very real dangers of entanglement

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Are you one of those people who frequently says, “where did the time go”?

This happens to a lot of us, especially when we get too busy. Like when you’re burning the candle at both ends busy.

“Busy” probably describes most people but being ‘too busy’ is what I want to focus on with this post. In particular, I want to talk about how easy it is even on our best days for God to occasionally get left out, while on those ‘too busy’ days He likely isn’t even thought of at all.

I’m one of those who believe that the Lord is at work in our lives each day. Because of this, I recognize that His presence is also a daily occurrence in my life.

My point being that I never have to wonder if God is with me. I know that He is.

Now, does that mean I don’t have times when I question “Lord, where are you”? Of course not! Like all of you, I am sometimes slow to adjust to God’s timing, thinking that He should react immediately to my petitions.

We all know that the Lord just doesn’t work like that.

Well, at least He doesn’t in my life.

None of this however changes the fact that God is always with us. He is the faithful one in our relationship, and fortunately for all of us he is never ‘too busy’ for us, nor does he forget about us. I don’t know how He does it, but somehow, He always makes time for us.

We, on the other hand, can get so busy with this thing we call ‘life’ that God gets shoved aside. Just stop for a moment and think of all the things you’ve done today and add those to tomorrow’s ‘to do list’, and you get a picture of how busy your life really is.

Seriously, some of us could apply for the position of a circus juggler because we are constantly having to juggle our time and schedules.

What’s amazing about this is that we don’t even realize it. In fact, it’s our everyday, normal life isn’t it? It’s like a saying we used to use at work that “the abnormal has become normal”.

Herein is the danger of becoming too busy with life. We don’t realize how much of ourselves we are constantly pouring into other things, people, or causes.

All at the expense of allowing God to pour into us, which He cannot do because we are too busy with everything else but Him!

The apostle Paul recognized the danger of allowing ourselves to become entangled in a multitude of things, things that eventually entrap us much like a bird in a snare. In his 2nd letter to Timothy, Paul wrote the following:

No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier.”  2 Tim. 2:4

As in all of his writings, Paul sees the relationship we have with Christ as one where we are in a battle. We have been enlisted as soldiers in God’s army, with a duty to carry out His orders.

Paul understands that if we are to please the One who is giving us our marching orders, we cannot become entangled with the affairs of this life. To do so would cause our attention to be diverted away from the task He has assigned to us.

Many of you can no doubt relate to being pulled a hundred different directions at one time, and this is what Paul is warning us against. Simply put, if we have become ‘too busy’ to be able to respond to our Leader, we have ceased to be a soldier that is pleasing to Him.

All of us have causes and projects that we support or have any number of family obligations that must be attended to. Paul is not telling us to abandon those things, but rather to make sure they do not become a snare to us.

The key here is to strike a balance between life’s obligations and giving time and attention to the One who makes our lives possible.

By doing this, we don’t have to worry about becoming ensnared by the everyday affairs of this life. We can be productive, positive members of society and also good soldiers of the One who has called us.

Have a blessed day,

Ron

 

 

 

 

Tales of a Curmudgeon in the making…

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OK, not really. But after several recent encounters with a wide variety of the species I am beginning to wonder if respect, decency, modesty, kindness, sensitivity, and thoughtfulness have gone the way of the Dodo bird.

Bear with me as I take you along on my mini-rant, and please feel free to comment and tell me the problem is with me only and that society isn’t really that bad after all. It will not hurt my feelings to be told that I am 100% wrong, and that yes indeed I am turning into a Curmudgeon.

Let me start with a lady who I will call “Agnes”. I use the name Agnes for a couple of reasons. 1: I can’t use her real name and 2: well, she just reminds of an Agnes.

So, a couple of weeks ago I was sitting with someone in the hospital and it was in one of those rooms that have a curtain dividing the room in half. Except that Agnes had 2/3 of the room, but I digress.

Agnes was one of those people that believe that since she’s in the hospital, she might as well treat the occasion as though she’s in a four-star hotel. That meant that every nurse and doctor was supposed to be at her beck and call. Even the attending physician that was taking care of the person I was sitting with was reminded that she was either hungry or that she needed more meds.

Now, please don’t misunderstand me. Agnes had a host of ailments, one or two of them serious. As a diabetic, for example, she was of course limited to the kinds of food she could indulge in. At least that was what was supposed to happen.

Imagine my great surprise when after she had eaten the evening meal, a couple of hours later along comes her husband toting her 2nd dinner. That’s right, Agnes called him to bring her some “real food”. Fried shrimp it was, and boy did it smell good.

Especially to the person whom I was sitting with that wasn’t permitted anything to eat, not even ice chips! And yes…Agnes was fully aware of this. Can you say INSENSITIVE?

But wait, there’s more! Through the night Agnes could be heard opening candy bars, and once while on the phone she was heard to tell someone that when she wakes up during the night, she just reaches over and eats a few bites of a cake that hubby had brought her, and then goes back to sleep.

There is plenty more, but I can’t really bear to conjure up any more memories of Agnes. Especially the one where she said, “I’m not a very modest person”.

Oh boy……

After a couple of days of this the person I was visiting was moved to a different room. At first, this was cause for celebration. No more having to listen to Agnes and her incessant whining about needing at least 3 or 4 packets of butter for her toast.

The celebration was short lived however, as roomie # 2, who I will call “Gladys”, turned out to be a younger version of Agnes. She too was on the “everyone here exists to serve my every little whim” plan.

Gladys also complained about not getting enough to eat, so she called her daughter who promptly brought her a chicken dinner from someplace. Oh, and her daughter also brought along a 4-year-old who couldn’t be contained or quieted.

Well, I would have gladly done both, but I’m pretty sure hospital security would not have been pleased with my methods.

As it turned out, the person I was sitting with was allowed to go home just a few hours after being placed in the room with Gladys. Upon hearing this, Gladys promptly told the nursing staff that she wanted that bed because there was a window on that side of the room.

Yep, and it had quite a view. Hospital rooftop and duct work as far as you could see. Now, before we leave Gladys, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention something about her daughter.

It seems her daughter used to work for this very hospital and knew her way around the computer software that contains all the doctors notes and such. So, while the nurse was supposed to be processing the discharge of the person I was there with, she instead was consumed with looking up the doctor’s notes of her mother’s recent procedures at the request of her daughter.

Yes, that’s right. Can someone say HIPAA?

Since this post is only going to grow larger, I won’t even go into the aggravation of seeing not one, but two carts shoved into the side of my car at Walmart. Both within 20 feet of the cart corral, but hey, it was starting to get cloudy and maybe they thought they might get rained on.

I also won’t launch into a diatribe over why people park their grocery cart in the middle of the aisle and then stand beside it, making it impossible to go around them. Nope, not gonna go there.

And those not so kind folks who man the phones at the doctor’s office and seem absolutely annoyed that you would dare expect them check the calendar to see when the good doctor would be available?

Nah… I’m giving them a pass as well.

After all, with all of these first world problems I’m having to deal with, I’m not sure I can handle any more!

Have a great day everyone and keep smiling!!

Signed,

A Curmudgeon in the making.

 

 

 

In spite of our flaws

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Some of you may remember that up until my recent retirement, I spent the last almost twenty-eight years working for Honda. There are a great many things that one learns when surrounded by a culture that is completely foreign to your own, and I will always be grateful for the many life lessons I learned while there.

I still remember my first nervous days at Honda, days in which I often found myself thinking “what have I done, and what am I doing here”? To say I endured a bit of culture shock would be a huge understatement, as every day I was exposed to ideas, philosophies, and customs unlike anything I had ever seen or heard.

In my new hire orientation for example, I learned that the Japanese placed a great deal of emphasis on ‘Respect’. So much so, that the foundational operating principle that guides Honda is ‘Respect for the Individual’.

It doesn’t matter if you are male or female, it doesn’t matter what your race or ethnicity is, it doesn’t matter if you are a college graduate or if you had to drop out of school to go to work at an early age. ‘Respect for the Individual‘ means every person is valued.

Every operational decision is based upon that principle, and it has served the company (and those who worked there) very well. As an aside, one cannot help but wonder how much better off all companies would be if they placed this same priority on ‘Respect for the Individual‘.

In my career at Honda, I was exposed to many different and unique aspects of the Japanese culture. What was common, or normal from my limited American perspective of things became something entirely different when looked at through the lens of a people who date back to the 8th century.

Take a broken pottery vase for example. In my eyes, a broken vase is just that; broken and no longer suitable for the purpose for which it was created. Broken, useless, and ready for the trash.

To the Japanese however, that broken vase represents something entirely different. You see, they have a form of art called ‘kintsugi’ (pronounced keen-TSOO-gee), where a broken piece of pottery is put back together again with lacquer and then dusted with gold powder.

To them, the once broken pottery is made even more beautiful because of, not in spite of, its many imperfections.

I like to think of our new lives in Christ in much the same way. All of us were broken vessels at one time, ready to be discarded until God placed us back on the potter’s wheel, where the Master Potter turned us into a beautiful masterpiece.

The word which came to Jeremiah from the Lord, saying: “Arise and go down to the potter’s house, and there I will cause you to hear My words.” Then I went down to the potter’s house, and there he was, making something at the wheel. And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter; so he made it again into another vessel, as it seemed good to the potter to make.  Jeremiah 18:1-4

God takes us just as we are, flaws and all, imperfections too many to list, and applies His special touch to our lives. The result is something far more beautiful and valuable than what He started with.

I hope you will remember this the next time the enemy tries to convince you that you are too broken, too damaged, too marred to be of any value.

In the hands of the Master, your beauty is only beginning to shine through.

Have a blessed day,

Ron

 

Who Then is a Faithful and Wise Servant?

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In today’s society, we don’t hear the words servant or master very often. In fact, just hearing the words conjures up images in our minds that we would just as soon not think about.

America is a relatively young nation, and it was not all that long ago that the words servant (or slave) and master were a part of an everyday life that nearly destroyed this nation. So, it is easy to understand why we have an aversion to these words.

In the Bible however, the words servant shows up 885 times in the KJV Bible (741 OT/144 NT), while the word master appears 184 times (100 OT/84 NT).

Obviously, it was common practice in those days for there to exist several different classes, or levels of people in society, and the lines between servant and master were clearly drawn.

In his Matthew 24 discourse, Jesus used this class distinction between servant and master when explaining to his disciples the conditions that would exist just prior to his second coming. He knew, of course, that his audience at the time would clearly understand his references.

45 “Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his master made ruler over his household, to give them food in due season?

46 Blessed is that servant whom his master, when he comes, will find so doing.

47 Assuredly, I say to you that he will make him ruler over all his goods.

 48 But if that evil servant says in his heart, ‘My master is delaying his coming,’

49 and begins to beat his fellow servants, and to eat and drink with the drunkards,

50 the master of that servant will come on a day when he is not looking for him and at an hour that he is not aware of,

51 and will cut him in two and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites. There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.        Matthew 24:45-51

Jesus is warning all to be on guard and not to become like the servant who lost sight of the fact that his master was indeed going to come again. Jesus refers to this type of servant as “evil” because he has become like the world around him, mistreating others and partaking of things that drove him even further away from his master.

On the other hand, Jesus refers to the “faithful” servant as one who is busy doing the will of his master. This servant has not forgotten that his master is coming again and is working diligently to faithfully fulfill his charge.

All of this points to us today who are living in the hour where we are witnessing the beginnings of the “falling away”, spoken of by the Apostle Paul in 2 Thess. 2:3.

The hearts of many are becoming cold, just as Jesus said they would in Matt. 24:12. We hardly need to be reminded of this fact by scripture, but it was prophesied nonetheless.

From where I sit on the front row, it would seem that we are fast approaching the time when we will once and for all have to make the decision to either be counted as faithful, or to join the ranks of those already fallen away into unbelief.

One thing is for certain, the day is at hand where straddling the fence between the two will no longer be an option.

My prayer is that all who will read this will take the attitude of Joshua, who said “as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord”.   Joshua 24:15

Be blessed,

Ron

Finally, a response from the Pope

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If you or one of your loved ones have been victimized by one of the Catholic church’s ‘predator priests’ in their latest sex abuse scandal, you have no doubt been waiting for an official apology from the Pope for the unholy actions of those under his charge.

Unfortunately, instead of mercy and compassion, instead of Godly remorse and sorrow over the lives ruined by these ‘counterfeit clergymen’, what the Pope offered instead was deflection. That’s right, he tried to assign guilt to the victims in order to make his own ‘robed rapists’ appear as though they are not at fault for their crimes.

During a recent Mass, the Pope said that victims of sex abuse by his own ‘predatory priests’ are nothing more than a “pack of wild dogs”, and that Jesus himself would remain silent on the issue.

“Pope Francis then advised Vatican officials to remain silent on the scandals, saying he asked the Lord for the grace to discern when it is better to speak or to remain quiet, and Jesus told him that the answer is “silence and prayer.”  emphasis mine

In my previous posts about this latest sex abuse travesty involving the Catholic church, I have been (hopefully) careful to try and not offend the sensitivity of some of my readers who are or were from the Catholic faith. I have resisted until now in sharing just how vile I believe the leadership of the Catholic Church to be.

Now that the Bishop of Rome has played his hand, as it were, by making the reprehensible statements I quoted from the linked article above, I will no longer be constrained in my contempt of and utter disgust for the actions of those involved in the actual abuse or subsequent cover-up of such demon-influenced behavior against innocent children.

As a matter of fact, the comments from Pope Francis are proof positive that the Catholic church is one of the single most abominable,diabolical,Christ-usurping organizations mankind has ever devised.

And that is being charitable!

Any man, be he a Pope or a pauper, that would make such reprehensible comments regarding the sexual abuse and perverse actions against innocent children by his own priests, has not an ounce of the Spirit of Christ within him.

He is in essence Anti-Christ.

The fact that millions of Christians, both Catholic and Protestant, are not demanding the removal of this Pope are indicative of just how far removed the Church has fallen away from the Truth.

Make no mistake, we have lost all ability to discern between good and evil. How else could otherwise sensible men and women continue to support such an evil, corrupt church? It simply defies all imagination.

WHERE IS THE OUTRAGE???

As I mentioned in a previous post, do we look the other way because it is the Catholic Church and no one dare cross them? Apparently so, because this tragic story has been relegated to the back pages in order to sweep it under the carpet.

Rest assured, the systematic rape and abuse of our children at the hands of these monsters is not hidden from the One whose eyes are like fire, and His feet like brass. Every single occurrence has been duly noted, and retribution will come one day.

The Bible is clear: Hell is hot and it is eternal, and they that do the things that the Catholic church turned a blind eye to will have their place in the lake of fire.

“And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last.”

Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city. But outside are dogs and sorcerers and sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and whoever loves and practices a lie.   Revelation 22:12-15    emphasis mine

In contrast to the Pope and his ‘predator priests’, Jesus sees children very differently.

Jesus said, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven.”   Matt.19:14

Then He took a little child and set him in the midst of them. And when He had taken him in His arms, He said to them, “Whoever receives one of these little children in My name receives Me; and whoever receives Me, receives not Me but Him who sent Me.”  Mark 9:36,37

Jesus shows us what He thinks of children. We know that because He was NOT silent about them in the Scriptures. Perhaps Pope Francis forgot this in his hurry to cast blame upon his innocent victims?

The Pope has also shown us what he thinks of our children. He thinks they are a pack of wild dogs, “shouting without reason”.

You have to make a choice: will you choose to follow Jesus or the Pope?

Ron

 

 

America: a very dangerous place to be a child

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What does it say about a nation that abuses its children?

America has a long, sad history of abusing it’s most helpless and defenseless citizens. In the early 1900’s for example, when America was rapidly moving away from being primarily a farm economy to the age of industrialization, it quickly became apparent that there was a shortage of available industrial manpower.

So eager was this new industrial manufacturing economy for workers, that very soon the nation’s children began supplying a lot of the labor necessary to drive the engines of progress. With virtually no child labor laws to protect them, these children worked long hours in very dangerous occupations.

Children could be found working in coal mines, textile mills, tobacco farms, even selling newspapers on the streets. Deprived of sleep and proper nutrition, many children were pulled into machinery and mutilated, all in the name of ‘progress’.

child labor 1

Children working in a Georgia textile mill. Photographed by Lewis Hine (Library of Congress)

It wasn’t until 1938 that The Fair Labor Standards Act, the federal law that would prohibit most employment of minors, was passed. Even then many employers were reluctant to give up this lucrative source of cheap labor, often hiding from regulators any incriminating documentation.

child labor 2

The “breaker boys” at a Pennsylvania coal mine, photographed by Lewis Hine in 1911. (Library of Congress)

Thankfully, for the most part, those days are gone and have been relegated to a place in the history of our nation. Children today benefit from the many labor laws that have been enacted to protect them, for which we should all be grateful.

Tragically, however, our children are now being subjected to many new kinds of abuse.

According to the web site love our children usa, each year, upwards of over 3 million children are reported as victims of physical, sexual, verbal and emotional abuse, neglect, abandonment, and death – and those are only the ones that are reported!

Incredibly, violence and neglect against children is reported nearly every 10 seconds. And because so many cases of child violence and neglect are never reported to the authorities, some estimates put the actual number of abused children at 3 times greater than what is actually reported.

If you’re counting along with me, that’s 9 million children a year!

What does it say about a nation that abuses its children?

Well, I know what God’s Word says about children, and it is a far cry from the exploitation and abuse being heaped upon them in this generation.

Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord,
The fruit of the womb is a reward.    Psalm 127:3

As unbelievable as it may be, there is still one more aspect of child abuse that must be considered. In spite of the child labor laws that were enacted to protect our youngest workers, there is still a class of citizens who have no laws to protect them.

On the contrary, we actually enacted laws to destroy them. Since the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, over 60 million children,the most defenseless of all, have been destroyed while in their mothers womb.

“The fruit of the womb is a reward”?

One could make the case for the womb being the most dangerous place for a child to be in today’s America.

Ron