Tuesday, January 31, 2012


From My Perspective - - -

The words we use have consequence. Words can affirm another or shatter a person’s self-worth; they can build up or tear down; they can encourage or discourage; or they can motivate or demoralize. Ridicule is one of the more painful verbal tools one can use.  We find that ridicule is “speech or action intended to cause contemptuous laughter at a person or thing; derision.” Such words and/or actions can wound another deeply and leave scars that will last a long time. The primary issue with ridicule is that the intention is to demean and denigrate another. The design is to cause another to surrender to the inevitable and quit in his/her pursuit of a goal or aspiration.

It is interesting that the Republican Primary has now become the occasion for ridicule – the sole purpose being that one candidate can convince enough people to vote for him than for his opponent – in other words, to win at any cost and by any means. It is interesting that a headline in today’s Reuters News is: “Romney Ridicules Gingrich On Eve of Florida Vote.” Some paragraphs in the news report states the following: “A confident Mitt Romney solidified his lead in Florida polls and ridiculed Republican rival Newt Gingrich on Monday, calling his opponent's attacks ‘sad’ and ‘painfully revealing’ the day before the state's crucial presidential primary. Romney's self-assuredness was on full display during a campaign tour that felt at times like a victory lap, with the front-runner telling a crowd of 2,000 in Dunedin, Florida: ‘With a turnout like this I got a feeling we might win tomorrow.’ Romney shrugged off the continued Gingrich attacks, drawing cheers from the crowd when he said Gingrich was not doing too well and had been ‘flailing about.’ ‘I know, it's sad isn't it?’ Romney said, calling it ‘painfully revealing’ and adding: ‘You've just gotta shake your head.’” You can glean the operative words of ridicule – sad; painfully revealing; flailing about; I know- it’s sad, isn’t it; You just gotta shake your head.

The focus for us is – what should one do when personal ridicule is occurring? In II Samuel 16:5-14, we have the following account: “When King David came to Bahurim, there came out a man of the family of the house of Saul, whose name was Shimei…and as he came he cursed continually. And he threw stones at David and at all the servants of King David, and all the people and all the mighty men were on his right hand and on his left. And Shimei said as he cursed, Get out, get out, you man of blood, you worthless man! The Lord has avenged on you all the blood of the house of Saul, in whose place you have reigned, and the Lord has given the kingdom into the hand of your son Absalom. See, your evil is on you, for you are a man of blood." The King’s men wanted to kill Shimei but David restrained them. II Samuel 16:11-14 records David’s rationale – “David said to Abishai and to all his servants, Behold, my own son seeks my life; how much more now may this Benjaminite…It may be that the Lord will look on the wrong done to me, and that the Lord will repay me with good for his cursing today. So David and his men went on the road, while Shimei went along on the hillside opposite him and cursed as he went and threw stones at him and flung dust. And the king, and all the people who were with him, arrived weary at the Jordan. And there he refreshed himself.”

None of us should ever have to suffer ridicule, but if we do, how we respond is far more important than the experience that is taking place. Compassion should always be present in our thinking and practice. To reciprocate or respond in kind would be an innate instinct. However, the child of God has a loftier standard. The Beatitudes (Matthew 5) come to mind, as well as the words in Ephesians 4:30-32, especially – be kind…tenderhearted…forgiving – just like Jesus Christ did. You can do it if you try! Consider these things with me!

Monday, January 30, 2012

The Importance Of Words

From My Perspective - - -

The English Language is, to say the least, very complex. The best guess estimates indicate there are more than 400,000 words in the English Vocabulary. However, in response to the question: “How many words are in the English Language?”, the following is given as the best acceptable response: “According to AskOxford.com, the English Lexicon contains approximately 250,000 specific words. One can add another 750,000 if one includes senses, such as words used as adjectives or verbs, to make the total approximately one million words.” They go on to say: “Technically, however, there is no agreed-upon answer to the question…because there are currently no accepted parameters for what counts as a unique word.” With this in mind, communication should be measured carefully and wisely before any sweeping statement and/or generalization is spoken or written.

These thoughts have had special significance  as the spouses of friends have died. What can be said by way of sympathy and/or comfort? The sense of sudden aloneness can be overwhelming and adjustment to a new situation and context for the survivors life can be overwhelming. For the one who is a Biblical Christian, faith and hope become a greater reality during this time of transition. Someone has penned the following words as one contemplates this new experience and life adjustment:

Should you go first and I remain to walk the road alone
I'll live in memory's garden, dear, with happy days we've known
In spring,  I'll watch for roses red when fades of lilac's blue
In early fall when the brown leaves call - I'll catch a glimpse of you.

Should you go first and I remain to finish with the scroll,
No lengthening shadows shall creep in to make this life seem droll.
We've known so much of happiness - yes - we've had our cup of joy,
But memory is one gift of God that death cannot destroy.

Should you go first and I remain for battles to be fought,
Each thing you’ve touched along the way will be a hallowed spot.
I’ll hear your voice I’ll see your smile - And though blindly I may grope,
The memory of your helping hand will buoy me on with hope.

Should you go first and I remain one thing I’ll have you do -
Walk slowly down that long, long path for soon I’ll follow you.
And I want to know each step you take that I may walk the same -
For some day, some day down that lonely road, dear-
You’ll hear me call your name…

In terms of the words we speak and the timing with which they are spoken, is summed up for us in -Proverbs 15:23, “To make an apt answer is a joy to a man, and a word in season, how good it is!”And in Proverbs 25:11, A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver.” I’ve always marveled at the words in II Corinthians 1:3-4 (NLT), “All praise to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. He is the source of every mercy and the God who comforts us. He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When others are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.” The reciprocal aspect to this is that because of the reality of comfort one experiences, that one can comfort others when they pass through a similar experience or situation. Consider these things with me!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

When Vibrancy Wanes

From My Perspective - - -

The passage from youth to older age seems to move very rapidly. At the outset of youth, it appears to move slowly, but as one advances into adulthood, the clock seems to accelerate and the years seem to pass more quickly. One of the major adjustments is in the area of vibrancy and vitality. Vibrancy, where one moves about quickly and without too many concerns or restrictions; and Vitality, where there is an excitement in both physical pursuits and mental achievements with few, if any, restraints. How can and should one adjust to the aging process and the limitations that come with it? One of the difficulties is the reaction and response of a younger generation who don’t always manifest any appreciation or need for those who have been down the road of life for several years.

The Biblical perspective of life is interesting as well. It shows the physical time-frame for it and the quickness of the passage of time and life. If or when one attends a funeral for a departed friend or acquaintance, aside from the “traditional” reading of Psalm 23, one may also hear these words from James 4:13-15, “Come now, you who say, Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit; whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away. Instead you ought to say, If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that." The Message Paraphrase is blunt, perhaps crass, when it shares: “And now I have a word for you who brashly announce, Today - at the latest, tomorrow - we're off to such and such a city for the year. We're going to start a business and make a lot of money. You don't know the first thing about tomorrow. You're nothing but a wisp of fog, catching a brief bit of sun before disappearing. Instead, make it a habit to say, If the Master wills it and we're still alive, we'll do this or that."

Another Biblical Chapter often used at a funeral is The Prayer of Moses in Psalm 90:10-12, “The length of our days is seventy years-- or eighty, if we have the strength; yet their span is but trouble and sorrow, for they quickly pass, and we fly away…Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” The New Living Translation, “Seventy years are given to us! Some may even reach eighty. But even the best of these years are filled with pain and trouble; soon they disappear, and we are gone…Teach us to make the most of our time, so that we may grow in wisdom.” The Bible is essentially preparing one, and his/her loved ones for the inevitability – life is more short than we think. We need to interact, not morbidly but with reality, that those who are aging will soon die and be buried. I have met too many people over the years who were full of regret for the lost opportunities and missed moments with for whom there was both care and interest.

What are the positives for those who are in the aging process? Isaiah 40:28-31 comes to mind, “Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.” Another is, Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” In Joshua 14:10-12, my personal hero and one whom I hope I can emulate, is Caleb, who says: “And now, behold, the Lord has kept me alive, just as he said…while Israel walked in the wilderness. And now, behold, I am this day eighty-five years old. I am still as strong today as I was in the day that Moses sent me; my strength now is as my strength was then, for war and for going and coming. So now give me this hill country of which the Lord spoke on that day, for you heard on that day how the Anakim were there, with great fortified cities. It may be that the Lord will be with me, and I shall drive them out just as the Lord said." Stay focused! Keep looking unto Jesus! Always let Him be your strength and shield!  Consider these things with me!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Keep Eulogies Current

From My Perspective - - -

A eulogy is an interesting concept. The basic meaning is – “a speech or writing in praise of a person or thing; high praise or commendation.” We sometimes hear the equivalent of a eulogy when someone is being honored or elevated to a position of responsibility. However, for most individuals, eulogies are reserved for being “a set oration in honor of a deceased person.” This is something that makes one pause and think – should we not be more willing to affirm and honor people who are alive and trying to do significant work rather than it being more of a post-script to a life of one after his/her death? Isn’t it possible that such affirmation and/or honor would lift up another’s spirit and motivate an individual to keep pressing on toward a goal and the sense of achievement of the same? Why do we usually wait until after a person has died before nice and complementary things are shared about that person?

Some of us have experienced the demise of people we knew and appreciated. The wives of two colleagues died within days of each other as they succumbed to cancer. My wife and I had known and visited with them for almost fifty years or more – then suddenly, unexpectedly, abruptly – word came that they were gone – they had died. It was a time for emotional reflection for us as we discussed the transition and adjustment these two widowers were now experiencing and the tremendous sense of loss – aloneness – with which they would now have to cope. It allowed for some sobering reflection – what were the last words we shared with one another; what lasting memory would we have of the one who has been a partner in life for fifty years or longer; what does one do when the love of one’s life is no longer there to continue the journey in life; etc.? What do you do at night when you’re in bed and reach across to touch or hug the love of your life – and realize anew that he/she is not there?

We tend to deal with life – and – each other – in a more matter-of-fact manner than we should. We assume that we’ll continue to live and be with each other forever. It has provoked in us the desire of sharing with each another how very much we love and care for one another as we near a 57th Wedding Anniversary. It’s fun – a joy – to do more and more things together – yard work, walking, shopping, driving – just to be together. Why is this the case? Why does one have this sense of affection? One of the aspects of a man and a woman wanting to be joined together in marriage is the inner and deep desire for oneness with the other person. My wife and I are working on a life history that will be passed down to our children and grand-children. In my introductory section, I have written the following: “The further influence comes from my life partner in this ministry odyssey and journey. A servant of the Lord is greatly handicapped without a “closest friend” and one who is united to him as an “heir together of the grace of life” (I Peter 3:7 NKJV). My beloved Peggy has enthusiastically shared in doing the work of ministry and has encouraged her husband to far exceed his skills in serving the King of kings and Lord of lords.”

The idea for a life companion is God’s! Whatever marriage is supposed to be has been originated by God for man’s completeness. We find this in Genesis 2:18-24 (NLT), “And the Lord God said: It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a companion who will help him…So the Lord God caused Adam to fall into a deep sleep. He took one of Adam's ribs and closed up the place from which he had taken it. Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib and brought her to Adam…Adam exclaimed: She is part of my own flesh and bone! She will be called woman, because she was taken out of a man. This explains why a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.” Someone formulated the following: God did not use a bone from man’s foot so he might walk all over her; God didn’t select a bone from man’s hand so be might beat or be abusive to her; God chose a rib from under man’s arm so that he would protect her – the rib also being near to man’s heart so he would love and cherish and love her. Express and demonstrate that love as frequently as you can. Share words of affirmation and appreciation as often as you can – while you can!  Consider these things with me!

Monday, January 16, 2012


From My Perspective - - -

Throughout our lives and experiences, there are always choices one has to consider. A wise person will always weigh the options of each choice before one along with the serious thought – What is the consequence (or consequences) for the choice before me? Another thought and question should be – not only how it may impact me – but also – how might the decision I make impact or influence another person with whom I may have contact or for whom I have oversight or responsibility? There are instances where one wishes the clock could be turned back so that a different choice could have been made or action taken. How many times have persons stated: “If I had my life to live over, I’d ______…”? The likelihood is, even if that was possible, the same decision, choice or action would’ve occurred.

There are several interesting statements offered about choices. Some are – (1) Pythagoras, who said: “Choices are the hinges of destiny.” (2) Roy Disney – It’s not hard to make decisions when you know what your values are.” (3) Unknown Source – “When one bases his life on principle, 99 percent of his decisions are already made.” There are other worthwhile thoughts in this regard. Someone stated this significant one: “Decisions become easier when your will to please God outweighs your will to please man.” Lastly, there is this comment that one hopes is proven to be incorrect: “Good decisions come from experience, and experience comes from bad decisions.”

In these considerations, some cautions need to be present, such as, on should be careful about making a choice or decision on the basis of a feeling, emotion or reaction. This would be especially true in terms of one’s choosing a life partner. The choice should not be made on the basis of physical attractiveness alone, or because of some “vibe” one thinks is occurring. The fact that there is an excessive number of divorces in society may be attributable to the wrong basis for the choice that one made. Great care should be exercised in all choices that one makes, not the least of which is the choice of a life partner in marriage. The above referenced statement – “Decisions become easier when your will to please God outweighs your will to please man.” – is a fascinating one to consider. There can be no greater reason for one’s pause or delay than for one to make certain the will of God is desired and will be done. The words in Colossians 4:12 have great purpose and import: “…always struggling in your prayers, that you may stand mature and fully assured in all the will of God.” This will take time but will also prevent unwanted and unneeded consequences in one’s life. The Message Paraphrase has this rendering: “praying that you'll stand firm, mature and confident in everything God wants you to do.” Are you able to say that is foundational in your decision pondering and ultimate choices you make?

One of the major discrepancies occurring in many lives, even among those who regularly attend church, is their willingness to avoid taking a serious God seriously. Perhaps they have lacked diligence in reading and studying God’s Word, or matter-of-factly sloughed it off as being of little or no consequence regarding a loving God. As the Lord worked with His people when they were in Egypt and patiently instructed and guided them, there was always a bottom-line that would have to be embraced and followed by the people. One expression of this purpose is in   Deuteronomy 6:24-25, “And the Lord commanded us to do all these statutes, to fear the LORD our God, for our good always, that he might preserve us alive, as we are this day. And it will be righteousness for us, if we are careful to do all this commandment before the Lord our God, as he has commanded us.” This is a clear expression of God’s will and purpose for His people then and now. The Message Paraphrase for verse 25 is, “It will be a set-right and put-together life for us if we make sure that we do this entire commandment in the Presence of God, our God, just as he commanded us to do." When your mind and will is determined to do the will of God, the words of Isaiah 30:21 will be your reality: “Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, "This is the way; walk in it." Consider these things with me!

Friday, January 13, 2012

The Inadequacy Of Envy

From My Perspective - - -

It is strange that so much attention in our nation and world has focused on class distinctions and wealth-envy. It has become an ongoing part of the political climate of our day and it does so by emphasizing over and over again the richest 1 percent versus the non-rich 99 percent. No one ever pauses to ask who comprises that 1 percent nor where they live in the world. The talking points of most politicians demean those of means while stirring up the rest to clamor for what that 1 percent has – namely, redistribution of their wealth.

CNN Money published a Headline Story on January 4, 2012 – “Americans Make Up Half Of The World's Richest 1%.” How many are there in that 1% bracket?  Do the protest groups know? Do the Politicians who seek the vote of the poor adequately define the who and where of the 1%? Why do you think they omit the facts in that regard? There are 60 million people who fit into the designation of the World’s Richest. The CNN Money Report states: “The United States holds a disproportionate amount of the world's rich people. It only takes $34,000 a year, after taxes, to be among the richest 1% in the world. That's for each person living under the same roof, including children. (So a family of four, for example, needs to make $136,000.) So where do these lucky rich people live? As of 2005 -- the most recent data available -- about half of them, or 29 million lived in the United States, according to calculations by World Bank economist Branko Milanovic in his book The Haves and the Have-Nots. Another four million live in Germany. The rest are mainly scattered throughout Europe, Latin America and a few Asian countries…” The breakdown of the others is: 3 million in France, 3 Million in Italy and 3 Million in Great Britain; 2 million in Canada, 2 Million in Japan, 2 Million in Brazil and 2 Million in South Korea; the other Million are scattered throughout the countries of Switzerland, Spain, Australia, Netherlands, Taiwan, Chile, Singapore and a few other countries.

We should never allow ourselves to become calloused or indifferent toward the poor and needy. Their plight is dreadful and their needs are considerable. We must remember, implement and practice James 2:12-15 (NLT), “…whatever you do, remember that you will be judged by the law of love, the law that set you free. For there will be no mercy for you if you have not been merciful to others. But if you have been merciful, then God's mercy toward you will win out over his judgment against you. Dear brothers and sisters, what's the use of saying you have faith if you don't prove it by your actions? That kind of faith can't save anyone. Suppose you see a brother or sister who needs food or clothing, and you say, Well, good-bye and God bless you; stay warm and eat well -- but then you don't give that person any food or clothing. What good does that do?” A Goal worthy of consideration is:Do as much as you can for as many as you can.

One must also be careful and guarded regarding envy. There is a statement of candor and transparency in this regard in Psalm 73:2-7, “But as for me, my feet had almost stumbled; My steps had nearly slipped. For I was envious of the boastful, When I saw the prosperity of the wicked. For there are no pangs in their death, But their strength is firm. They are not in trouble as other men, Nor are they plagued like other men. Therefore pride serves as their necklace; Violence covers them like a garment. Their eyes bulge with abundance; They have more than heart could wish…” In Psalm 73:11-14 (NLT) we find these words: “Does God realize what is going on? they ask. Is the Most High even aware of what is happening? Look at these arrogant people - enjoying a life of ease while their riches multiply. Was it for nothing that I kept my heart pure and kept myself from doing wrong? All I get is trouble all day long; every morning brings me pain.” A truth that one must remember is contained in Psalm 37:1-12, “ Do not fret because of evil men or be envious of those who do wrong…Trust in the Lord and do good…Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him…those who hope in the Lord will inherit the land…the meek will inherit the land and enjoy great peace.” The promises of God are sure and will never fail. Let your hope and confidence be in Him always.  Consider these things with me!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

The Heart Of The Matter

From My Perspective - - -

The English Language contains many idioms and phrases that are used to summarize a thought and/or to narrow the parameters of a discussion on a particular subject or matter. One such phrase is – “the heart of the matter”.  The Reference Dictionary shares the following as “the heart of the matter”  finds its origin in the phrase – “the crux of the matter.”  Most understand what the phrase means, namely, “the basic, central, or critical point of an issue…” In English usage it is also used to mean difficulty or puzzle… The word “heart” has been used in the phrase to mean “the vital part” of an issue or matter at hand.

The idea of the “heart” as “the vital part” has application in terms of physical, mental and spiritual matters of life. The Book of Proverbs 4:20-23 states – “My son, pay attention to what I say; listen closely to my words.Do not let them out of your sight, keep them within your heart; for they are life to those who find them and health to a man's whole body. Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.” The New Living Translation is – “ Pay attention…to what I say. Listen carefully. Don't lose sight of my words. Let them penetrate deep within your heart, for they bring life and radiant health to anyone who discovers their meaning. Above all else, guard your heart, for it affects everything you do.” And, The Message paraphrases these verses – “ Dear friend, listen well to my words; tune your ears to my voice. Keep my message in plain view at all times. Concentrate! Learn it by heart! Those who discover these words live, really live; body and soul, they're bursting with health. Keep vigilant watch over your heart; that's where life starts.” In other words, all of these renderings is stating that the heart is vital – it is the seat of one’s emotions – it is necessary to the maintenance of a normal bodily function.

In Psychological and Medical Studies, an area has become known as the Broken Heart Syndrome (BHS). It is “a known medical condition that frequently occurs soon after the loss of a loved one. Although Broken Heart Syndrome is discussed in modern and ancient literature, it was not recognized as a physical ailment until the early 1990’s. Symptoms of broken heart syndrome include shortness of breath, chest pain, insomnia and depression.” It is also recognized as being twenty-one times greater within hours (and immediate days) following the death of a spouse with whom there had been a deep, intimate, and loving relationship. “BHS is most common in women who have suffered the loss of a loved one or similar intense emotional trauma. A sudden fright, such as a robbery or even a surprise party, can also trigger BHS. It is possible to die of a broken heart through broken heart syndrome. An extensive study by the Mayo Clinic found about 3.6 percent of fatalities rate in patients with broken heart syndrome. The study also found that patients who experienced physical stress had lower survival rates than those under emotional stress alone.”

The Psalmist described how Depression impacted his entire being in Psalm 38:6-8, “ I am utterly bowed down and prostrate; all the day I go about mourning. For my sides are filled with burning, and there is no soundness in my flesh. I am feeble and crushed; I groan because of the tumult of my heart.” The New Living Translation expresses it, “I am bent over and racked with pain. My days are filled with grief. A raging fever burns within me, and my health is broken. I am exhausted and completely crushed. My groans come from an anguished heart.” There are many verses in the Bible that address the centrality of the heart in all matters. Proverbs 14:30 states, “A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones.” The Message renders this verse – “A sound mind makes for a robust body, but runaway emotions corrode the bones.” There is a safe place for an individual that encompasses all of that which is necessary and vital for one’s physical, mental and spiritual health. It is in a very simple statement of Proverbs 3:5-8 (NKJV), “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding;In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths. Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the Lord and depart from evil. It will be health to your flesh, And strength to your bones.” Too often and too frequently,one focuses on just the physical aspects and desires medication to meet the inner need. However, one would be better served by focusing on the Spiritual resolve as being The Heart of the Matter. Consider these things with me!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Serious Times Require People Who Are Serious

From My Perspective - - -

A Wall Street Journal Columnist wrote a very poignant paragraph regarding Republican Candidates for the Presidency. Last week, she wrote: “The worst trend in politics that fully emerged…People running for president not to be president but as a branding exercise, to sell books and get a cable contract and be a public figure and have people who heretofore hadn’t noticed you now stopping you in the airport to get a picture and an autograph. In an endeavor like this you have nothing to lose and everything to gain. You’re not held back by any sense of realism as to your positions, you don’t have to worry about them being used against you down the road because there won’t be a down the road. You can say anything. And because you do you seem refreshing. People start to like you—you’re not like all the others, who are so careful. You rise, run your mouth for a month and fall. Maybe this is harmless. But America is in crisis. The world is in crisis. Everywhere you look establishments and old arrangements are falling, toppling to the ground. Does it help, in this context, to lower the standing of the American political process by inserting your buffoonish, unserious self into it? Or does it make things just a little bit worse?”

Her rhetorical questions point to the fact that these Serious Times Require People Who Are Serious. How many times have you listened to a Candidate from any political persuasion, or a spokesperson for them, or a prognosticator and said to yourself – “You’ve got to be kidding! That just isn’t true!” Not enough of the cheering crowds pause to consider what they have heard nor the implication of what was said means. In other words, these Serious Times are devoid of People Who Are Serious. It reminds one of an old Radio and Television Program – Truth Or Consequences? It seems as though too many are willing to risk the Consequence rather than confront and demand the Truth! There seems to be a readiness and wiliness to set aside foundational principles and core values so that a greater good can be accomplished and satisfied. There are no parameters to reference – but – there is the willingness to blithely and blindly go forward in lock step – ignoring any and all warning signs in the process.

The realities of life and the shortness of it goes on. Later on today, there will be two Memorial Services conducted for the wives of two long-time friends. Both wives died after enduring the struggle with cancer and the treatments that were not accomplishing the desired result. It gives one a moment to pause and remember that real people are passing through serious personal times – and – they are having to deal with the gravity of the moment in the most serious of ways imaginable. James 4:13-15 reminds serious people that: “ Now listen, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money. Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.” James reminds us that life is brief, at best, and goes on to say: “…you ought to say, If it is the Lord's will, we will live and do this or that.” This truth is also shared in a Prayer of Moses – Psalm 90:1,10-12,“Lord, you have been our dwelling place throughout all generations…The length of our days is seventy years-- or eighty, if we have the strength; yet their span is but trouble and sorrow, for they quickly pass, and we fly away….Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”

Considering these realities and the brevity of life, a renewed emphasis needs to be placed upon the need for Serious Times Require People Who Are Serious. RaviZacharias shared these thoughts: “Although the cultural revolution has abandoned the fundamental foundations of faith, restoration is possible if Christians will light the way. (1) We are thrust into a humanistic world view, and we wonder how it happened. (2) A cultural revolution is under way, and we must respond. (3) As we come unhinged from our Creator, our culture's foundations are being destroyed (4) The antagonism against things spiritual is real. (5) The revolution strikes at the jugular of every institution in the land. (6) God created us to be accountable for our actions, but that has been lost. (7) By losing accountability, we've eradicated conscience. ( God gave us charity, but that has been lost. We have lost the idea of beneficence.” Please – Consider These Things With Me!

Friday, January 6, 2012

Topsy-Turvy Normalcy?

From My Perspective - - -

There was a time when Logic was the expectation and Order/Purpose was the expectation for the ebb and flow of life. But now, Topsy-Turvy has gained cultural traction and it has quelled one’s ability to anticipate the future and to plan accordingly. A question that should be answered by someone pertains to How and When Topsy-Turvy was invited in and allowed to become an accepted lifestyle embraced by many. The American Heritage Dictionary defines Topsy-Turvy as: “with the top downward and the bottom up, or – upside down; In or Into a state of utter disorder or confusion; that which has become inverted.” Roget’s Thesaurus shares that Topsy-Turvy is: “characterized by Physical Confusion; or that which is chaotic, confused, disordered, mixed-up.” One can almost hear another say: “I knew it! Someone opened the door and in came Topsy and Turvy, and nothing’s been the same since…”

If you happen to be one who doesn’t sense or realize the changes that are taking place within our culture and lifestyle – maybe even thinking this is the way it is supposed to be – then you have other issues that require your attention. During 2011, a Television Program that gained a growing audience was: “Hoarders: Buried Alive.” The stated purpose of the program has a simple focus, namely, “Hoarding explores the Psychology behind the compulsion to accumulate and store large quantities of non-essential things.Each episode tells the stories of Hoarders struggling with behavior that has made every day existence unbearable for both them and their loved ones.With the help of expert Therapists and Organizers, The Hoarders will attempt to unlock the key to their obsessions in hope of reclaiming their lives.” A major problem that surfaces is that the individual cannot separate himself/herself from the accumulated stuff and junk. It is painful to observe those who live in the midst of squalor protest that they launder clothing and bathe themselves and their infants even though it is obvious to everyone that it is untrue.

A Reviewer made this assessment: “Hoarders is the best depiction of mental illness on TV today… Hoarders works because you can see mental illness and its effects on screen like never before: in piles of trash, or rotting food…or, in one especially disturbing episode, dozens of dead cats. The two people featured in each episode are usually at some kind of turning point - their relationship is deteriorating, they’re going to be evicted—and so a professional organizer and/or specialist comes in with a cleaning crew to help them deal with what has accumulated over the years.Why can’t the show’s subjects just throw this stuff away?...But the subjects’ mental illness - for which hoarding may just be a symptom - prevents them from being able to do that, which makes it obvious that they aren’t just being stubborn. That frustration is clear in friends and family members, but particularly in the workers who have been hired to help clean up. They can’t understand why it matters that they threw away a piece of broken tile or scraps of paper…”

We need to look at our individual lives and the things that we allow to accumulate in them – the clutter that begins to stack up! Man’s chief end is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. That being so, why have we allowed for the ‘Topsy-Turvy’ to dominate? Two passages from God’s Word that can serve as a resolve for us: (1) Psalm 119:133 (The Message) “Steady my steps with your Word of promise so nothing malign gets the better of me.” We might say: ‘Keep me from accumulating junk in my life that prevents me from glorifying and enjoying you always. On this passage, Charles Spurgeon suggests: David “was not afraid of being laughed at for living by method and rule, for he saw method and rule to be Divine institutions. He did not aspire to a random life, or envy the free-livers, whose motto is, “Do whatever you like.” He had no lusts to be his own master—he wished in all things to be governed by the superior and all-perfect will of God.(2) I Corinthians 14:40 (NIV) “But everything should be done in a fitting and orderly way.” This needs to be linked with Psalm 37:23-24 (NKJV), “The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord, And He delights in his way. Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down; For the Lord upholds him with His hand.” Topsy-Turvy should not be part of one’s life – order and purpose is God’s design and will for His own. Ask the Lord to order your steps and life. Consider these things with me!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012


From My Perspective - - -

One of the experiences we would all like to avoid is encountering corruption – yet – in one form or another, we have all encountered it to some degree. Corruption is a 14th century word that was used in reference to material things, especially regarding dead bodies. It also had a spiritual application in terms of the soul and morals. In current times, we have had a glimpse of it regarding Governments, Businesses, Sports and Churches. Some have the idea that the wrong thing can be done in plain sight and the brightest daylight – but – that no one will notice or care. It is frequently rationalized by use of the trite notion – “well, everyone does it.” It is a breakdown of the moral fiber of a culture that has been nurtured with a marked imbalance of permissiveness, promiscuity and narcissism. It has allowed for an evolving climate where “everything/anything goes” and “no one is responsible for their actions.”

Two words that describe the climate of our times and that seem to go hand-in-hand with each other are Corruption and Decadence. Corruption focuses on the diminishing of moral standards and equivalents; depravity; and the perversion of integrity. Decadence focuses on “the act or process of falling into an inferior condition or state; deterioration; decay;  moral degeneration or decay; turpitude; unrestrained or excessive self-indulgence.” The synonyms are: “degeneration, retrogression, decline.” Some historians, namely, Edward Gibbon, held that the fall of Rome can be attributed to internal decadence. Gibbon “…placed the blame on a loss of civic virtue among the Roman citizens. They gradually outsourced their duties to defend the Empire to barbarian mercenaries who eventually turned on them. Gibbon considered that Christianity had contributed to this, making the populace less interested in the worldly here-and-now, and more willing to wait for the rewards of heaven. The decline of Rome was the natural and inevitable effect of immoderate greatness. Prosperity ripened the principle of decay; the causes of destruction multiplied with the extent of conquest; and as soon as time or accident had removed the artificial supports, the stupendous fabric yielded to the pressure of its own weight…”

Five summary points have been offered and referenced over the years in terms of why and how the decline and fall of the Roman Empire occurred: 1) Increased number of Divorces resulting the undermining of the sanctity of the home; 2) Higher Tax Rates and the redistribution of wealth as money was spent for bread and celebrations; 3) the ever-increasing craze/demand for pleasure – sports events becoming more brutal and exciting with each passing year; 4) the building and amassing of larger and more potent armaments that would allow for defense and domination (more so than the M.A.D. concept – Mutually Assured Destruction); and 5) the indifference toward and the decay of religion – faith becoming more form than function – and ultimately becoming impotent. The time-frame for The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire was – 476. The application is both obvious and timeless – the historic narrative could almost be used as an overlay and description of the culture and society of the 21st century.

The Bible instructs and warns one regarding the dangers of decadence. Galatians 6:7-8, “Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.” Those who have ignored the Gospel and the advantages of it in terms of corruption, become those who would entice others to a godless and hopeless lifestyle. In II Peter 2:19, “They promise them freedom, but they themselves are slaves of corruption. For whatever overcomes a person, to that he is enslaved.” The only hope and the only help is in and through Jesus Christ. In II Peter 1:3-4, “His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.” Don’t be among those who are deceived – identify with those who have been delivered by God’s Grace and Power. Consider these things with me!