Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The Selection Of A Target

From My Perspective - - -

There are those in the media who make a determination of what and who should be targeted for special scrutiny in the political arena. Of particular interest in this political season are those who have either a personal label of being “Christian” or who are being endorsed by those who come from the broad mainstream of “evangelical Christianity.” A recent editorial written by Bill Keller in the New York Times illustrates this point. Note some of his comments: “…when it comes to the religious beliefs of our would-be presidents, we are a little squeamish about probing too aggressively. Michele Bachmann was asked during the Iowa GOP Debate what she meant when she said the Bible obliged her to “be submissive” to her husband, and there was an audible wave of boos — for the question, not the answer. There is a sense, encouraged by the candidates, that what goes on between a candidate and his or her God is a sensitive, even privileged domain, except when it is useful for mobilizing the religious base and prying open their wallets.”

He then becomes very specific with his concerns: “This year’s Republican primary season offers us an important opportunity to confront our scruples about the privacy of faith in public life…We have an unusually large number of candidates, including putative front-runners, who belong to churches that are mysterious or suspect to many Americans. Mitt Romney and Jon Huntsman are Mormons, a faith that many conservative Christians have been taught is a cult…Rick Perry and Michele Bachmann are both affiliated with fervid subsets of evangelical Christianity — and Rick Santorum comes out of the most conservative wing of Catholicism — which has raised concerns about their respect for the separation of church and state, not to mention the separation of fact and fiction…Every faith has its baggage, and every faith holds beliefs that will seem bizarre to outsiders. I grew up believing that a priest could turn a bread wafer into the actual flesh of Christ. But I do want to know if a candidate places fealty to the Bible, the Book of Mormon…or some other authority higher than the Constitution and laws of this country. It matters to me whether a president respects serious science and verifiable history…I do care if religious doctrine becomes an excuse to exclude my fellow citizens from the rights and protections our country promises. And I care a lot if a candidate is going to be a Trojan horse for a sect that believes it has divine instructions on how we should be governed…”

We would do well to note and remember that a Sovereign God is involved in the affairs of the world He has created. Proverbs 21:1-3 (NKJV), “The king's heart is in the hand of the Lord, Like the rivers of water; He turns it wherever He wishes. Every way of a man is right in his own eyes, But the Lord weighs the hearts. To do righteousness and justice Is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice.” The Message Translation states these verses: “Good leadership is a channel of water controlled by God; he directs it to whatever ends he chooses. We justify our actions by appearances; God examines our motives. Clean living before God and justice with our neighbors mean far more to God than religious performance.” The words of Proverbs 14:34 should also be noted and remembered: “Righteousness exalts a nation, But sin is a reproach to any people.” The Message has a succinct rendering of this verse: “God-devotion makes a country strong; God-avoidance leaves people weak.” Daniel 2 is a place to begin if one is to understand God’s control of His universe. In Daniel 2:45, Daniel states to King Nebuchadnezzar: “A great God has made known to the king what shall be after this. The dream is certain, and its interpretation sure." Nebuchadnezzar was a slow learner, and the interpretation of his second dream states – Daniel 4:24-25, “this is the interpretation, O king: It is a decree of the Most High, which has come upon my lord the king, that you shall be driven from among men, and your dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field. You shall be made to eat grass like an ox, and you shall be wet with the dew of heaven…till you know that the Most High rules the kingdom of men and gives it to whom he will.” It matters little what the media thinks or who they target. A sovereign God rules and will accomplish His will and His purpose in His universe!  Consider these things with me!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

When A Donkey Talks

From My Perspective - - -

Many nations in the world are in turmoil. People are protesting and clamoring for freedom and relief from stern and cruel leaders. Many have lived under the rule of a Dictator all their lives so that their understanding of freedom is suspect. Opportunists lurk everywhere waiting for their moment to seize power and control people – there continues to be danger and peril on every hand. There is great confusion in terms of what the True God might want for them versus what a god has supposedly instructed them to be and do. They really do need at least a Donkey to speak and give them some indication of a pending danger. The Bible contains such a moment in Numbers 22:22-32. Balaam is riding his donkey and is going in a direction contrary to where God wants him to go. When the Donkey saw the Angel of the Lord with his sword drawn, he went in a different direction. The text states: “And Balaam's anger was kindled, and he struck the donkey with his staff. Then the Lord opened the mouth of the donkey, and she said to Balaam, What have I done to you, that you have struck me these three times? And Balaam said to the donkey: Because you have made a fool of me. I wish I had a sword in my hand, for then I would kill you. And the donkey said to Balaam: Am I not your donkey, on which you have ridden all your life long to this day? Is it my habit to treat you this way? And he said, No.” Balaam’s eyes will soon be opened so he can see and know what his Donkey has seen and known.

Wiki-Leaks has posted 349 cables from Libya. Among the documents is a congratulation note Gaddafi sent President Obama on winning the election. Part of Gaddafi’s comments include: “Dear Mr. President Obama, I have the pleasure to send a congratulation note for the first time to an American president… we have the right to congratulate you from the bottom of our hearts because you are the son of Africa. God gives reign to whom He wishes and takes it away from whom He wishes; he holds dear whom he wants and humiliates whom he wants as well. He retains all the good in His hands, and He is the all powerful…” Where do these thoughts originate? One place is Daniel 2:19-23 after the King – Nebuchadnezzar – has had a perplexing dream that no one can interpret. As a last resort, he sends for Daniel who approaches the king with these words: “…the mystery was revealed to Daniel in a vision of the night. Then Daniel blessed the God of heaven. Daniel answered and said: Blessed be the name of God forever and ever, to whom belong wisdom and might. He changes times and seasons; he removes kings and sets up kings; he gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding; he reveals deep and hidden things; he knows what is in the darkness, and the light dwells with him.  To you, O God of my fathers, I give thanks and praise, for you have given me wisdom and might, and have now made known to me what we asked of you, for you have made known to us the king's matter." King Nebuchadnezzar will hear words of condemnation and judgment that will soon come upon him.

Another passage of significance is Isaiah 40:10-25. The prophet declares the Word of the Lord–“Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand and marked off the heavens with a span, enclosed the dust of the earth in a measure and weighed the mountains in scales and the hills in a balance? Who has measured the Spirit of the Lord, or what man shows him his counsel? Whom did he consult, and who made him understand? Who taught him the path of justice, and taught him knowledge, and showed him the way of understanding? Behold, the nations are like a drop from a bucket…All the nations are as nothing before him, they are accounted by him as less than nothing and emptiness…He brings princes to nothing, and makes the rulers of the earth as emptiness…”

What will it take today for our nation to acknowledge the True God? What will gain their attention? Will it be a Talking Donkey? It seems there are many voices of confusion making the sound of a braying donkey and who appear to act just as dumb and stubbornly. What will it take for you to respond affirmatively to God? Why not begin now to - Seek the Lord while He can still be found – and to - Call upon Him while He is still near!  There is still time to repent and to return to the Lord. Don’t delay – Do it today!  Consider these things with me!

Monday, August 22, 2011

A Brilliant Light

From My Perspective - - -

From a secular perspective, it is safe to say that all of us have had some experience with a thunder and lightning storm… At nighttime – a  brilliant light is seen during a thunderstorm;  A jagged beam of bright and brilliant light flashes in the dark sky – frightening some and startling others; It appears suddenly and lasts but a fraction of a moment; The leader stroke reaches the ground in about 20 milliseconds; the return stroke reaches (or returns to) the cloud in about 70 microseconds…Based upon the knowledge one has regarding lightning – in our homes, we utilize SURGE PROTECTORS - - - WHY DO WE DO THAT? We use Surge Protectors because (a) We know there can be damage caused by a bolt of lightning; and (b) We want to safeguard costly electronics, such as computers, television sets,  etc.

In 2000, Dr. Ronald B. Standler wrote an essay regarding Damage Caused By Lightning and summarized:  “Lightning causes damage to buildings and equipment in three different ways. (1) There can be damage as a result of a direct lightning strike. Such damage includes damage to roofing materials, structures such as chimneys, heating or air conditioning units located on the roof or exterior of a building, or fires caused by lightning igniting combustible material, such as wood-frame buildings or flammable liquids or vapors. (2) Part of the lightning current can be carried inside a building by electric power, telephone, analog or digital data lines (e.g., closed circuit television cameras, sensors in an industrial plant, etc.). This direct injection of lightning current inside a building can cause immense damage to electrical – and especially electronic – circuits and equipment. (3) The electromagnetic fields from the current in a lightning stroke can induce currents and voltage in wire and cables inside a building. Such surge currents are typically less intense than direct injection of current, but can easily vaporize integrated circuits in computers, modems, electronic control circuits…Electronic equipment is typically designed to operate in a well-controlled electrical environment.

From a spiritual perspective, Isaiah 59:1-10 contains these thoughts regarding the darkness that prevails in our world: “Behold, the Lord's hand is not shortened, that it cannot save, or his ear dull, that it cannot hear; but your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden his face from you so that he does not hear. For your hands are defiled with blood and your fingers with iniquity; your lips have spoken lies; your tongue mutters wickedness. No one enters suit justly; no one goes to law honestly; they rely on empty pleas, they speak lies, they conceive mischief and give birth to iniquity…Their works are works of iniquity, and deeds of violence are in their hands. Their feet run to evil, and they are swift to shed innocent blood; their thoughts are thoughts of iniquity; desolation and destruction are in their highways. The way of peace they do not know, and there is no justice in their paths; they have made their roads crooked; no one who treads on them knows peace. Therefore justice is far from us, and righteousness does not overtake us; we hope for light, and behold, darkness, and for brightness, but we walk in gloom. We grope for the wall like the blind; we grope like those who have no eyes; we stumble at noon as in the twilight, among those in full vigor we are like dead men.” What a picture! Men groping and stumbling in the darkness…grasping for a wall. How great is that darkness and how deceptive it has become. How greatly it surrounds and imprisons one!

In Psalm 77:18, The Psalmist observed and marveled when contemplating a display of God’s power, “…Your lightning lighted up the world; the earth trembled and shook…” In Luke 17:22-24, Jesus gives this word of instruction to His disciples regarding the power and glory at the time of His second coming: “…The days are coming when you will desire to see one of the days of the Son of Man, and you will not see it.And they will say to you, Look, there! or Look, here! Do not go out or follow them.For as the lightning flashes and lights up the sky from one side to the other, so will the Son of Man be in his day.”  In John 1 at the announcement regarding His first coming, the descriptive words were: “In him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.”  It is a sad fact that the world prefers darkness and alternative religious systems rather than the Gospel in Jesus Christ. However, even in the “Church” where the message of the True Light is to be proclaimed, there are those who continue to stumble in the darkness – groping for a wall like a blind person – completely lost and unaware. Before it is too late, come to The Light – Jesus Christ and follow Him only and always.  Consider these things with me!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Moral Collapse

From My Perspective - - -
It is obvious that in this nation and our world the moral compass is askew. The entire sense of values and what is right or wrong has been blurred to the point where differentiation between the good and bad, the right and wrong, uprightness versus criminality has been trampled underfoot. This nation and our world have allowed for permissiveness to the degree and point where the only standard for human behavior has become - what “I” want and what “I” want – the outcome being “I’LL” just take it. Unruly mobs of people decide to break into businesses and take the things they want and believe they are entitled to have – just because they want them.
The Associated Press has a unique news article and assessment of what has occurred in England. Prime Minister David Cameron has stated: “Britain must confront its slow-motion moral collapse…declared Monday, following four days of riots that left five people dead, thousands facing criminal charges and at least 200 million pounds ($326 million) in property losses.He said his coalition government would outline new policies designed to tackle a culture of laziness, irresponsibility and selfishness which he believes fueled Britain's unrest.He also pledged to toughen rhetoric from ministers and officials, who he claimed had too often had shied away from promoting strong moral standards.His government would no longer be timid in discussing family breakdown or poor parenting, or in criticizing those who fail to set a good example to their community.This has been a wake-up call for our country. Social problems that have been festering for decades have exploded in our face…Just as people last week wanted criminals robustly confronted on our street, so they want to see these social problems taken on and defeated…Cameron insisted that racial tensions, poverty and the government's austerity program - much of which is yet to bite - were not the motivations for the riots across London and other major cities.Criminality and a lack of personal responsibility were at the roots of the disorder…pledging that the government would intervene to help 120,000 of the country's most troubled families before the 2015 national election.One of the biggest lessons of these riots is that we've got to talk honestly about behavior and then act - because bad behavior has literally arrived on people's doorsteps. And we can't shy away from the truth anymore…”
In the midst of all of the turmoil and criminal activity, the “Church” that is supposed to be the voice of moral standards established by Almighty God – has been silent. The root problem is that the “Church” cannot not – and should not – pick and choose among God’s Laws and mandates. God’s Law means all of it and the application for it is supposed to be universal. The Prime Minister also said: “Britain's damaged society has for too long been one which incites laziness, that excuses bad behavior, that erodes self-discipline, that discourages hard work. Amid recklessness by bankers, the lawmakers' expense check scandal, and media phone hacking saga, the leader also acknowledged that all sectors of society had a share of the blame. Moral decline and bad behavior is not limited to a few of the poorest parts of our society. In the highest offices, the plushest boardrooms, the most influential jobs, we need to think about the example we are setting…
The last verse in the Book of Judges (21:25) closes with a statement – “In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.” The implication of these words for the culture of our day is that we lack sound moral leadership and that has allowed for a behavior that goes unchecked and a lifestyle that is undisciplined. If one believes that Jesus Christ is King of kings and Lord of lords, then one’s behavior should reflect submission to the will of the King. On one occasion, when Jesus was confronted by a Lawyer – the interaction is in Luke 10:26-28 – “He (Jesus) said to him, What is written in the Law? How do you read it? And he (Lawyer) answered: You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself. Jesus said to him, You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live." This should be one’s beginning point for one's Godliness and Moral Uprightness. Consider these things with me!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Is - "Tch, Tch" - Appropriate?

From My Perspective - - -

The times in which we live are already past the challenging stage – they are now desperate. Nations are in turmoil and many are near bankruptcy; people are losing their employment, homes and planned retirement income; riots are once again becoming evident in other nations, as well as our own – and – our response too often is to “whistle while passing the graveyard” (idiomatic for: an attempt to stay cheerful in a dire situation; to proceed with a task, ignoring an upcoming hazard, hoping for a good outcome) or the utterance of – “tch, tch” (a sound made at a moment of frustration).

The column by Peggy Noonan for August 12th, 2011 captures some of sense of the times through which we are living and passing. She writes in a column entitled “Apres le Deluge” (after us, the deluge): “The riots in Britain left some Americans shaken…The British press, left, right and center, was largely united in a refusal to make political excuses for the violence. Almost all agreed on the cause and nature of what happened. The cause was not injustice; this was not a revolt of the downtrodden masses, breaking into stores looking for food. The causes were greed, selfishness, a respect and even lust for violence, and a lack of moral grounding. Conscienceless predators preyed upon the weak. The weak were anyone who happened to be passing by, and those, many of them immigrants, who tried to defend their shops and neighborhoods…The denunciations were swift and fierce. Max Hastings, in the conservative-populist Daily Mail: "The depressing truth is that at the bottom of our society is a layer of young people with no skills, education, values or aspirations…Nobody has ever dared suggest to them that they need feel any allegiance to anything, least of all Britain or their community…Not only do they know nothing of Britain's past, they care nothing for its present…More stinging and resigned was the brief essay by Theodore Dalrymple in the intellectually bracing City Journal. The subject -- the decline of Western society -- has been his for 20 years. He has written what he saw as a doctor working in British prisons. ‘The ferocious criminality exhibited by an uncomfortably large section of the English population’ in the riots did not surprise him. To have spotted it required no great perspicacity (keenness of mental perception and understanding)on my part; rather, it took a peculiar cowardly blindness, one regularly displayed by the British intelligentsia and political class, not to see it and not to realize its significance..."

The phrase – “after us, the deluge” (Apres le Deluge) – is fascinating! It has historic Biblical meaning. In Genesis 6:5-7, “The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the Lord was sorry that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart. So the Lord said, I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, man and animals and creeping things and birds of the heavens, for I am sorry that I have made them." The aftermath was the destruction of the world by means of a deluge – a flood. Only Noah and his family were spared because they found refuge in the Ark that the Lord had directed him to build. What does this account of Noah have to do with the current events of our time? Take note of what Jesus Christ spoke in His Olivet Discourse – Matthew 24:37-42, “For as were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark,and they were unaware until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man…stay awake, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming.” These words need to be taken seriously! We are living in desperate and degenerate times! We would be unwise to be “whistling past the graveyard” and uttering “tch, tch” as though these events were just passing trends and not to be taken too seriously. The words of Jesus – “Stay Awake” – should gain the attention of us all. Use what time remains, to share the Gospel and to live righteously!   Consider these things with me!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Offended By What - - By Whom??

From My Perspective - - -
What are the values that guide one in the 21st Century? What are you living for – and – what would you be willing to die for? In the United States, is the Constitution an archaic artifact that is to be viewed as a museum document, or is in a living legacy by which this nation is to be governed and guided? Whichever conclusion may be drawn, who has the right to make that decision, and what is the objective in nullifying the foundational principles upon which this nation was built?
A news item that received little notice or attention pertained to an action taken by the United States Air Force Academy. Basically, it is summarized in the following note entitled: “Air Force guilty of religious bigotry - bans Scripture in class.” Dated August  9th, 2009, it states: “Dear Friend, The Air Force has banned a class on the Christian-based ‘Just War Theory’ because the class used verses from the Bible. ’Just War Theory’ has been a part of Western civilization since the days of St. Augustine in the 5th century A.D. It uses the abiding standards of the word of God to help members of the military determine when the use of lethal force against an enemy of this country is morally legitimate and helps them to know how to use that force in a morally just way. The class has been taught for more than two decades at Vandenberg Air Force base, and has been an important source of perspective for those who have their fingers on the missile launchers that protect our liberties. But because of noisy complaints from secular fundamentalists the class has now been shelved, and our military has been robbed of the moral guidance of the Scriptures. Rather than fight for religious liberty, the Air Force meekly suspended the entire class the day the complaint was filed. And so the banning of the Bible in the armed services continues. Donated Bibles were burned in Afghanistan because it might offend Muslims in Afghanistan…It's time for this extinguishing of the lamp of God's word to stop…”
More by coincidence than by moral conscience values, the following has been observed: “For the past four nights we have watched London devastated by young thugs setting fires, looting stores, fighting police and gloating that ‘Now we own the streets.’  David Cameron, the Prime Minister, has taken swift steps to have a large force of policemen who arrested several thousand. He charged that ‘if these rioters are old enough to commit the crime, they are old enough to be tried for their crimes.’  Last night British magistrates (judges) conducted court all night long, processing 100 of the rioters with prompt jail time meted out.  Stunned parents watched as their 14- and 16-year-old sons and daughters, (even a few of them 12 years old) were carted off to jail for  four and six-months sentences.  Too late, they promised that they would try to control their kids better in the future.  Again, on August 11, 2011,  Prime Minister Cameron was cheered in Parliament as he promised that swift justice would be given all these rioters even if the courts had to conduct trials around the clock.”
A Biblical basis for this action – whether or not it is actually known and become the basis for the action, are these words from Ecclesiastes 8:11 (NIV), “When the sentence for a crime is not quickly carried out, the hearts of the people are filled with schemes to do wrong.” The NLT states: “When a crime is not punished, people feel it is safe to do wrong.” In Today’s English Version it is rendered:"Why do people commit crimes so readily?  Because crime is not punished quickly enough"  In a Blog entitled “Feeling Reality”, the writer refers to the seeming desert and the dearth that accompanies it. In the midst of all the compromise and jettisoning of the basic and valid principles in the Word of God, another reality prevails. It appears in Isaiah 43:18-19 where the Lord is speaking to His people, “Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.”
The Church – such as it is in the 21st century – ought to be offended rather than complicit. The same is true for the “professing Christian”. The adage that says: "Stand for something or you’ll fall for anything” is an apt description of where we are today.  Consider these things with me!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

They Didn't Have A Prayer

From My Perspective - - -

The expression – “they didn’t have a prayer” – is often used to describe a hopeless situation where one may be found. A car where the driver is not paying attention and crosses into the oncoming lane of traffic causes a head-on collision resulting in the death of unsuspecting and innocent individuals; the pilot informing the passengers on the airliner that the engines have failed and the plane will have to make a crash landing; the sloppy and unkempt high school student who attempts to date the Home-Coming-Queen – these and a host of many other unlikely possibilities bring about the expression – “they didn’t have a prayer.” Someone raised this interesting observation and question: “Why is it that in these and so many other apparently hopeless situations, people who never darken the doors of the church will use this expression, “They don’t have a prayer”? Is there some latent recognition that prayer really could make a difference?”

Let’s fast-forward to today when the Governor of Texas – Rick Perry – has announced and called for a Day of Prayer for our nation. He has called it – The Response! Why has he done it and how have people responded to it? The Washington Post reports: “The event, originally conceived by Perry before he started laying groundwork for a presidential campaign, is one of the most explicit appeals to conservative Christians by any of the Republican hopefuls, and it will closely link his candidacy to his evangelical faith if he decides to run. Evangelical Christians make up a critical voting bloc that could comprise more than half of the voters in some of the GOP primaries. But liberals are criticizing Perry, highlighting the controversial comments of some of the people he has invited to participate. And some Republicans worry that the Texas governor could hurt his prospects of winning the general election if he chooses to emphasize religion rather than his record of job creation…Perry invited his fellow governors to the event, but so far, only Kansas Republican Sam Brownback has said he will come…Perry says the day is inspired by the words of the Old Testament Book of Joel in which the prophet calls on the Hebrew people to pray, fast and ask for God’s forgiveness. The Texas governor argues that America similarly needs to ask for God’s help today because it is a nation in crisis. We have been besieged by financial debt, terrorism, and a multitude of natural disasters…As a nation, we must come together and call upon Jesus to guide us through unprecedented struggles, and thank Him for the blessings of freedom we so richly enjoy.” Hopefully, people will respond affirmatively!

There have been negative responses to the Governor calling for such a meeting. Many represent the same groups that oppose any religious appeal in the public arena. Regrettably, these negative groups have seemingly won the day in most situations. Could it be that the so-called Christian Community who call themselves “believers” have lacked the backbone to take a stand and to participate in prayer? It may very well be that an underlying factor is that the “Church” has lost its way. When people gather weekly in a building called “The Church”, why have they come? Do they come to Worship…Pray…Seek the Face of Almighty God – or – are they merely maintaining a tradition and ritual? A Biblical Model for Worship could easily be John 4:22-24, “You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know…the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth." A Biblical Model for Prayer could easily be II Chronicles 7:14-16 after the Temple had been completed, “…if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land. Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayer that is made in this place. For now I have chosen and consecrated this house that my name may be there forever. My eyes and my heart will be there for all time.” When you attend “your Church”, don’t be identified with those of whom it was said – "They Didn’t Have A Prayer!” Come and gather to Worship and Pray as modeled by the Word of the Lord? Consider these things with me?

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

As Compared To What...?

From My Perspective - - -

Some people love to label other people by characterizing them in some way or seeking ways that would demean another. It seems as though civil discourse takes a back seat if an opportunity presents itself to make a negative comment. The intent is to form an opinion that will denigrate someone else by use of a single term or phrase. In many situations, the negative remark or accusation has its intended result. The person so labeled is forced to spend an inordinate amount of time and resources to remedy the negatives that have been deliberately or carelessly bandied about.

If you had a choice, with what would you like to be compared? Why would that label be your choice? What would you hope would be conveyed about you if one word or brief phrase was used to summarize who you are? A friend of mine recently printed in a Church Bulletin one type of comparison. It was the comparison to a pencil. A Pencil may seem to be of little consequence and surely without a great cost. The item suggested: “A pencil maker told the pencil five important lessons it needed to remember just before placing it in a box: (1) Everything you do will always leave a mark! (2) You can always correct a mistake you have made! (3) What is important is inside of you! (4) In life, you will undergo an occasional painful sharpening which will only make you better and more functional! (5) To be the best Pencil, you must allow yourself to be held and guided by the hand that holds you…!” Obviously, pencils have different purposes: The Artist needs some pencils with a softer lead so he can achieve a desired result in terms of dimension and shading; The Draftsman needs pencils with a hard lead so that the result he achieves will easily display the sharp distinctive of what has been drawn and the dimension of each area.

Some people use a pencil in ways for which it was not designed and manufactured – they will chew on it; tap it incessantly; toss it aside as though it had no value. That can and may characterize that particular life – a person with no purpose; one who doesn’t try to be creative or develop skills; one who chooses to be an annoyance to others; one who has no set of values. This type of person is usually marked by low self-esteem and under-achievement. Such a one is content to drift aimlessly through life and could care less about any label that is attached. Just leave him alone to chew on his pencil and to tap it endlessly – and then – to be tossed aside as though it had no value.

There are two Biblical illustrations (among several) that describe how life can and should be viewed: (1) The meaningfulness and purposefulness of a life with correct priorities, namely, a godly life. Psalm 1 describes it well. The person who avoids all of the negative appeals that come his way is likened to – Psalm 1:1-3, “… his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers.” This life is marked by productiveness and fruitfulness. (2) One must be – should be – cognizant of the brevity of life. It carries with it the idea of the adage – “never put off to tomorrow what can be done today.” In James 4:13-14, “…you who say, Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit -  yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that."

In my early teens, when I had no sense of direction or purpose, Mark 8:35-37 had a convicting and haunting impact upon my life: “For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel's will save it.For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?For what can a man give in return for his soul?” Gradually, and in His timing, the Lord moved me and prepared me to serve Him. I had sense enough and willingness to be like a pencil in the hand of the Master – to be used as He saw fit and wherever He wished to use me. How about you? Are you clay in the Potter’s Hand – a pencil in the hand of The Master Artist? Consider these things with me!