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Old habits sure are hard to break

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I like to talk to people. It doesn’t matter to me if they’re young or old, male or female, or what nationality they may claim. I find people interesting, and I enjoy striking up a conversation with them.

I’m that guy who goes to Walmart with his wife and disappears for a few minutes, only to be found two aisles over talking to someone he’s never met before.

Yep, that guy.

If I see someone just moving in the neighborhood I’ll probably strike up a conversation with them the first chance I get. Just did that a few days ago as a matter of fact.

The ladies in my house think my talking to complete strangers is a bit odd.

They may be right.

What’s funny (to me) about this is that until I was in my early 20’s I was extremely shy and socially awkward. Even looking someone in the eyes was a major struggle for me. Maybe some of you can relate?

It wasn’t until I became a Christian and began to grown in my faith that I actually began to see myself as “good enough” and on equal footing as the rest of the world. Oh sure, I had plenty of people telling me that I would never be more than the shy, introverted country boy I’d always been, but I was determined to be more than that.

By the grace of God and the support of the best wife in the world I went farther than what anyone ever thought I would or could. Along the way I found my voice and God opened many, many doors for me to use it. Again, it was nothing I did. To God be the Glory for every good thing that has come my way!

So, as I said, I enjoy talking to people. I’m finding out however, that I’m not supposed to be doing that any longer, at least not without some restraints. Let me explain.

A few months ago I was out walking and the school bus dropped off a young lady and as the bus pulled away, I said hello to her. She didn’t respond, which I took to mean she didn’t hear me. So I said something to the effect of “I bet you’re glad to be out of school for the day, aren’t you”? This time she murmured something that I couldn’t understand. With that, she seemed to pick up the pace and hurried to get home.

Odd, I thought.

Just last night I was wandering around Target and I hear the familiar sounds of SuperMario coming from the electronics section of the store. I used to love playing Mario when it first came out, so I was naturally drawn to the sounds.

As I round the corner I see a young boy about 10 years of age intently focused on the game he was playing. He was pretty good at it and I complimented him on his skills. In response he barely glanced over his shoulder at me. I watched a few more seconds and told him that I too used to love to play Mario, and this time he didn’t even look at me. The silence felt very awkward, so I quickly left.

Recounting these events with my family I was told that I was probably thought of as an old creeper. In other words, I cannot strike up a conversation with children I don’t know, because I will be thought of as a potential predator.

As I listened to my daughter(who works with kids at a day care)tell me about how I should keep to myself when I’m around strange kids, it all started to make sense and I knew she was right. After all, no telling how many times these kids have been told about “Stranger Danger”. To them, I’m just another old guy that wants to harm them.

I get it.

Still, none of this sits well with me. I don’t like not being able to smile at a child or make over a baby in the store without it stepping over some line that society has deemed uncrossable. It’s just an automatic, natural thing to want to say “hi”.

Honestly, I get it.

Sadly, I get it.

Actually, tit’s kind of heartbreaking if you want to know the truth about it.

So I guess I’m left to wander around the store, hands in my pockets, eyes straight ahead, wearing blinders so I don’t notice the children. I’m to pretend there are nothing but grown ups within 100 yards of me. Which really stinks, because I seem to get along much better with kids than people my own age.

And that my friends, is the society we have descended into. Not much more to say about that I suppose.

Old habits sure are hard to break…I wonder how long it’ll be before I smile at some kid and ask “how ya doin”?

Be blessed on this Lord’s day,

Ron

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O Happy Day!

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Today I’m taking a break from blogging about church related matters because something much more important has come up.

Today my Princess and I are celebrating our wedding anniversary. Regular readers of this blog know that I am madly in love with my wife, and so today I wanted to share a little bit about this amazing woman who has made me complete.

My wife is the greatest encourager a man could have by his side. When I have been at my lowest, she has never failed to stand beside me and cheer me on. So many times I have wanted to quit or give up on something because I thought I couldn’t handle the resistance, yet she was always there telling me I could.

Countless times at work I would receive a text from her, encouraging me to trust God and stand firm. I’ve lost track of all the encouraging scripture notes that somehow found their way in my lunch box, but I assure you they made all the difference at the time.

When I suffered a massive heart attack, she never flinched but stayed by my side letting me know that we would pull through this. When the frightening news came that I had to have open heart surgery, she was a rock. Yes, on the inside she was terrified, but she never let me see that until it was all over.

When I was coming out of the anesthesia she was right there, calming me as I fought all the tubes, wires, and hoses connected to me. Even in my foggy condition, her soothing voice seemed to be enough to cause me to relax.

Not only did she nurse me back to health then, she has continually taken care of me whenever any kind of illness has come. She has done all of this without one word of complaint or bitterness.

She holds many job titles in our home. She is an extraordinary cook, and I’ve lost track of how many sweepers she has worn out because she loves for her home to be clean at all times.

She is the chief financial officer and budget controller as well. In an age when people find it too bothersome to balance their checkbook, I say heaven help the bank should they make a mistake because my wife will catch it. To. The. Penny.

Birthdays and holidays are always special because, well, she makes them special. Her decorating sense is amazing and should anyone visit our house, they can instantly see what season it is by her choice of decor.

Oh, and I would be remiss if I didn’t mention her love for bunnies. At Easter, our house is filled with bunnies. Bunnies on the floor. Bunnies on the wall, Bunnies on the couch. Bunnies on towels and tablecloths. You get the picture I’m sure.

Just today, she saw a bunny in the yard and declared that she wanted to pet it. I had to remind her that the bunny would not appreciate that. Still, if that bunny would sit still…

My wife is also an incredible mother. It’s a whole another story in itself, but she was told she could not have children, yet two months after we were married, guess what happened? Yep. Eight or Ten pregnancy tests later we were finally convinced this was going to happen.

She has raised an amazing daughter who is now in her second year of college. Like her mother, she loves the Lord and is a very driven young woman. Her heart is to teach children, so to that end she is going to become a school teacher in a couple of years. I think any school system will be thrilled to have a new teacher come on board who actually loves children, don’t you?

There is yet one more thing about my wife that I believe surpasses everything else I’ve mentioned. She is a warrior. She is a fighter. When she believes she is right about something she will not back down. I love that about her!

Being raised as she was in a Christian home, the daughter of a pastor, her convictions are largely drawn from God’s Word. This is who she is, and who she will always be. People sometimes mistake her gentle spirit for weakness, but they only make that mistake once!

I am so thankful that God brought us together. Two broken people who had given up hope of finding real love were brought together and filled with a special, lifetime love for one another.

This is our Love Story

Happy Anniversary Debbie,

I love you with all that’s within me,

Ron

What do you see?

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There.

In the pew.

Sitting over there.

What do you see?

Dressed for success?

Clothed in hand-me-downs two sizes too small?

A crisp, new outfit?

A rumpled,wrinkled shirt?

Who do you see?

The preacher’s daughter?

A woman branded with a scarlet letter?

Perfectly dressed boys and girls driven to church in a shiny new Cadillac?

Ramshackle kids from the other side of the tracks who arrived in an old school bus transformed into a makeshift Sunday School taxi?

What do you hear?

A heavenly choir?

A wannabe rock band?

Too loud?

Too soft?

Just right?

Whispers of “what is he doing here”?

The muffled cries of the broken and abused?

Yes, here in God’s house, the one place where at the foot of the Cross the ground is level for all….

What do you see?

Who do you hear?

Maybe the better question is do we see and hear the same things that Jesus does?

 

 

Either 100% of God’s word is true, or none of it is!

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Think about that statement for a moment. Christians believe that the Bible is God’s inerrant Word given unto man. It is a collection of sixty six books, written and compiled by various authors over the span of nearly 1500 years, from 1400 BC to A.D. 90 (approximately).

While there are many detractors who maintain that the Bible is a made up fictional tale and thus not inspired of God, the truth is that there are many Biblical facts that have been proven beyond all doubt.

Perhaps more importantly, especially to the sceptics and non-believers, is that the Bible has never been proven factually wrong. Ever. It is a book of truth, divinely revealed by God to all men.

Paul the Apostle declared that God cannot lie, and if this statement is true, then God’s word is 100% accurate. [1]

Likewise, as we search through the Scriptures we are confronted time and again with the statement that God cannot or will not lie. [2]

All of which brings me to the subject of why American Christians have such a hard time believing that every word in the Scriptures is 100% true. This is never more apparent than when confronted with truths that somehow conflict with their vision of “how things are supposed to be”.

For example; the Scripture is very clear that at some point in the future (whether near or far away is not the pont), the entire world will be under the sole authority of one ruler, who is called the antichrist. This is confirmed by Daniel, Paul, and even Jesus in the Revelation. [3]

Yet in spite of overwhelming and irrefutable Scriptural evidence of this future one world dictatorial government, many American Christians emphatically believe that America will never capitulate.

In other words, they believe that good ol’ American Nationalism will prevail, and that Old Glory will continue to wave irregardless of the rest of the nations coming under the authoritarian rule of the antichrist.

American Nationalism, as most of you know, is the widely held belief that we are better than everyone else, and that our goals, principles, and ideals are superior to everyone else’s. [4]

As a Christian, I believe the Bible is clear in its teaching that all of us are to live according to God’s word. Jesus even said as much when he told Satan that “man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word which proceeds from God”. [5]

What that means is if we are going to call ourselves Christians, then we must live ‘by and according to’ the word of God. This means 100% of God’s word.

We cannot pluck out the sections that do not align themselves with our political ideology or cause. We’re either all in or we’re not, in which case we’re out.

Whether we like a particular subject of the Bible or not is irrelevant. Whether or not we think certain scriptures apply to us or not is also irrelevant.

The fact of the matter is that the Bible was not written by holy men of God under the guise of each of us getting to pick out only those parts we agree with. If we are Christians, we come under the authority of every word. One hundred percent of the time.

The entire world is running headlong toward a one world government and ruler, a fact confirmed by none other than the United Nations, who recently issued a document entitled “Transforming Our World: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.”

This document serves as an outline for how to achieve a one world government, and I highly recommend that students of the Bible take a close look at it.

Wishing and hoping it were not so does not change this fact. This is the direction the world is rapidly moving towards. The course has been chartered, and it is inevitable that some form of it will come to fruition simply because the Bible declares it to be so.

No amount of wishing for a return to the “good old days” will make that come to pass. Those of us who love to relish those carefree days of long ago must do so with the understanding that those days will never return.

Those well-meaning Christians who staunchly maintain that America is God’s chosen nation and thus deserving of advantages and blessings no other nation has, are, quite honestly, deceived.

I believe it’s high time that all of God’s children come to a level of maturity in Him where we accept His word and His will for our lives without reservation. No more wavering, no more doubting, no more wishing we can go back.

Let’s acknowledge instead that His direction is best for us.

Nationalistic pride aside, either 100% of God’s word is true, or none of it is. I’m staking my life on the former. How about you?

Be blessed on this Lord’s day!

Ron

 

[1] Titus 1:2

[2] Numbers 23:19,   1 Samuel 15:29,   Psalm 89:35,

[3] Daniel 7:232 Thessalonians 2: 1-12Revelation 13:1-5 

[4] Lest anyone think otherwise, I am proud to be an American. I consider myself to be among the most blessed of all people in that God in His mercy permitted me to be born in this country. For over six decades I have enjoyed the incredible wealth and prosperity this country has provided, and I am humbled by what God has given this nation.

Yet for all of that, I do not consider myself or my country to be any better than any individual or any other country. In spite of the political rhetoric that says otherwise, we are no better or no more worthy of God’s favor than any other nation.

[5] Scripture reference Luke 4:4

 

“You know better than that”

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As a child and into young adulthood, I heard those words from time to time. Specifically, I heard them nearly every time I did something wrong and couldn’t squirm, weasel, or outright lie my way out of it.

Come to think of it, saying I heard those words “from time to time” isn’t completely true. I heard them far more frequently than that.

The inference, of course, is that I was raised to know right from wrong, good from bad, and so on and therefore should have known better than to do the thing that got me in trouble.

Looking back on those carefree days of my early childhood, I can safely say that I liked to see how close to the edge I could get before hearing my name called out. I came to understand that when I heard a loud “RONALD!” I had fallen off that edge and it was only a matter of time before the hammer would fall.

Like the time when I was 8 or 9 years old, and I started a small fire on the floor in the hay loft of our barn. Actually, I prefer to think of it as a ‘controlled burn’ because I went to great pains to make sure I had cleared the immediate area of any excessive hay that could catch the barn on fire.

Which, by the way, I never got the proper credit for.

Anyway, all was going according to plan until one of my two younger sisters who were there with me ‘somehow’ managed to burn her finger and headed to the house, crying like a baby. Captivated by my advanced fire making skills in the middle of the barn floor, my other sister and I never gave her a second thought.

That is until a few minutes later when I saw my dad’s head at the top of the ladder. What followed next can only be described as “other worldly”, because it is simply not possible for a human being to move as quickly from the top of a ladder to where my small, ‘controlled burn’ was.

In a nanosecond, with super human skills that would make Jason Bourne envious, my dad had leaped off the ladder with a single bound, extinguished the ‘controlled burn’, grabbed me and threw me across a bale of hay, and proceeded to give me a whipping for the ages with a strap of leather that was hanging on a nail just seconds prior.

Thankfully, the years have dulled my memory to the point where I cannot remember which was the loudest, the thud of the leather strap across my body or the screams coming from the deepest recesses of my soul.

After what seemed like a good 30 or 40 minutes at the hands of my inquisitor, (though in reality it was not quite that long) I was released from the ‘hayloft turned torture chamber’ and sent to the house with strict orders to go straight to bed.

No supper. No TV. No bath (yeah!). No nothing. I still remember my mom coming into the bedroom to check on me, and her pleading with my dad to at least let me eat supper. That wasn’t happening, of this I was made sure. Now THAT hurt!

Later on, my sisters snuck into my room to see if I was still alive. Either that, or they wanted me to know that the chicken leg, mashed potatoes, gravy, and biscuits that was supposed to be my supper did not go to waste, thank you very much.

So, I stayed in my room until the next morning. I don’t remember the specifics, but I do know that at some point that morning there was a very stern discussion, I mean LECTURE, about the dangers of playing with matches in a hay filled barn loft.

Even after all that had happened, I tried to plead my case by saying how responsible I had been by clearing away the hay and choosing the best place for my campfire. My dad, however, was hearing none of it. Knowing how to start a fire on the river bank was an admirable skill it seemed, while in the barn, not so much.

I can’t recall how many times the phrase “you know better than that” was used during THE LECTURE. No doubt I heard it many times that day, as well as the ensuing days when I was assigned some type of hard labor as further punishment for my foolishness.

I’d love to be able to say that this escapade forever changed my thought process, and from this day forward I was never again to engage in anything so dangerous and foolish. Yes, I would love to be able to say that.

But I can’t. Oh, to be sure I never played with matches in the barn again. But I did many other, equally dangerous things through the years as I was growing up. When my dad died when I was 12 years old, I went through a rough period of several years of living as close to the edge as I could get. Things like riding in a friend’s car doing 145 MPH on a two-lane country road, for example.

And worse. Much worse.

I suppose though that all of us do things we know better than to do, which I guess is why my Princess reminds me from time to time that I still need ‘direction’.

No doubt, it’s in our DNA to push the envelope. I believe that is how our Creator made us, to push the boundaries, to explore the unknown, to be curious enough to try something for the 1st time. Not destructive things, mind you, but things that require us to reach beyond ourselves. Things that require us to reach out to a Power far beyond our own.

When we do things that we know are wrong, or dangerous, or destructive, there is a still small voice that reminds us that “you know better than that”. It isn’t a condemning voice, but rather a Father’s voice, born of concern and love for His children.

My prayer is that we will come to know that Voice, and that we will allow it to be our guide when making life’s many decisions.

Trust me on this, it sure beats the consequences of acting on our own impulses!

Be blessed,

Ron

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Evil transformed into art?

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WARNING! This post may be offensive to some.

Like many of my readers, I am often stunned by what appears on the evening news. The evil that man is capable of inflicting upon one another is almost beyond comprehension, yet even as I write that statement I know that what we are seeing is just the tip of the iceberg.

So horrific are many of these acts that I choose not to discuss them in detail, both out of respect for the victims and not wanting to give any more publicity to these demon controlled monsters.

Of course, there are many types of evil in this world, just as there are many types of evil perpetrators committing the acts. I’ll spare you the details, not that they matter. After all, evil is the devil incarnate, and he is at the root of it all.

Take, for example, the “Sacred Goods” exhibit which was displayed at the Haifa Museum of Art, located in Haifa, Israel. In August of 2018, they displayed a sculpture of Ronald McDonald being crucified on a cross.

f3663570-572c-40a3-883a-f4818ded1970The “McJesus” sculpture by Finnish artist Jani Leinonen on display at the Haifa Museum of Art. (Haifa Museum of Art)

As I stated, there are many types of evil in this world, and many types of evil perpetrators. For the Christian, there cannot be a more vile, disguting image than to see the Savior of mankind mocked in such a manner as this.

This is evil, pure and simple, and the mind that “created” this blasphemous image has been wholly given over to Satan.

Of course, the Jews overwhelmingly do not believe that Jesus was their Savior, so it is of no great offense to them to see this in their museum. The fact that this is considered “art” at all and was prominently displayed in their museum testifies to the fact that they are still mocking, still rejecting Him after delivering him up to be crucified over 2000 years ago. [1]

Indeed, a people once called out from all other nations by none other than God Himself to be the “elect”, have continued on the same path of destruction that their ancestors walked thousands of years ago.

But the days of ridicule and mockery are coming to an end.

This shall they have for their pride, because they have reproached and magnified themselves against the people of the Lord of hosts.

The Lord will be terrible unto them: for he will famish all the gods of the earth; and men shall worship him, every one from his place, even all the isles of the heathen. Zephaniah 2:10-11

As Christians we know a day is coming when the last mocker will have been heard. There is coming a day so dreadful, and from which there is no escape, that instead of ridiculing Him, every knee shall bow and every tongue confess when the name of Jesus is declared.

And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.   Philippians 2:8-11  emphasis mine

In that day no one will compare Jesus to Ronald McDonald. There will be no mockers, scoffers, or reprobates to ridicule Him ever again. What there will be a lot of is kneeling and confessing.

On that great day the sheep will be separated from the goats, and one’s nationality, fame, or wealth will not save him. The last words the lost will ever hear will be from the Almighty, who will say “depart from me, I never knew you”.  [2]

Even so, come Lord Jesus!

Be blessed in Jesus name,

Ron

[1] For a detailed account of this sordid display and to read about the Arab Christian opposition to it: https://www.timesofisrael.com/arab-christians-in-violent-clash-with-police-in-haifa-over-mcjesus-sculpture/

[2] Matthew 7:23

 

 

 

 

 

 

Am I my brother’s keeper?

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Many of you will no doubt recognize that question, taken from the Genesis account of Cain and Abel.

If you’re unfamiliar with the story, Cain was angry with his brother Abel because his brother’s offering was acceptable to God, while his own was rejected. In a jealous rage, this is what happened:

Now Cain talked with Abel his brother; and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother and killed him. Then the Lord said to Cain, “Where is Abel your brother?” He said, “I do not know. Am I my brother’s keeper?” Genesis 4:8-9

We know that Cain asked this question as a means of deflecting attention away from his guilt for having murdered his own brother. He basically told God “how should I know where he is, it’s not my job to watch him, is it?”

Ever since then, it’s a question that individuals have been asking themselves whenever needs arise, whether man-made or natural. It is a question that probes at the heart, and our answers reveal a lot about how we feel about our fellow man.

In a perfect world, there would be enough of everything to go around. There would be a job for every able-bodied person. The issues of hunger, sickness, and poverty that now plague the world’s society’s would vanish.

It doesn’t take a sociologist(or a theologian)to look around and determine that we are not living in a perfect world. That world existed for a very short time in a place called Eden, a place where the only two humans on the planet existed.

In our modern world however, things are quite a bit different. In this less than perfect world, there are a lot of people that are in dire need of help. The notion of a perfect world to them is the stuff of fairy tales.

It may be the hungry child down the street, or the immigrant family trying to cross the threshold into what they perceive as paradise, or a thousand other desperate situations.

Regardless, the numbers of people who have reached the point of helplessness in their quest for survival is nothing short of staggering. So much so that one could make the case for not even trying to find a viable solution to this seemingly impossible situation.

But how do you tell the desperate, the hungry, and the hopeless that their plight is too big to bother with? How do we look them in the eye and say they are not worth the effort?

Sadly, there are an ever increasing number of people who believe just that, that the problems are too large and complex, and besides, it’s not us but “them”. But is that how loving, civilized society’s are to function?

Poverty in the U.S. alone affects over 40 million people. An additional 95 million are living at ‘near poverty’ levels. How can this be ignored? And what of the rest of the world, all of which is far worse off than the United States? [1]

My contention is that we as a society, particularly a society founded upon Christian principles, do indeed have an obligation to help those who cannot help themselves.

Otherwise, ‘survival of the fittest’ and ‘only the strong survive’ become the new laws of the jungle and it’s every man, woman, and child for themselves.

Is that what any of us really want?

All of us, irregardless of political, religious, or sociological backgrounds are inextricably linked together by a common bond: the need to have enough food to eat, clothing to wear, and a roof over our heads.

When you really think about it, the question of “Am I my brother’s keeper” is actually more relevant today than it was in the days of Cain and Abel.

In the world that Cain and Abel lived in, there were only four humans upon the earth. Four, as in Adam,Eve,Cain, and Abel. Four souls.

In our world, we have a far greater challenge before us.  At last count, there were over seven billion people living on earth. While some will contend that the numbers are too great for anyone to have any kind of positive impact upon, I say that God is equal to the challenge.

He just needs a few willing vessel’s to step up and say that “yes, I am my brother’s keeper”.

Something to ponder, I trust.

Be blessed,

Ron

[1] For a detailed look into the poverty crisis in America, please go to povertyusa.org.      Here you will find an enormous amount of data, broken down into many different categories that will help you better understand how severe the problem is.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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