Month: February 2022

In Focus

  My eldest son recently celebrated his fourteenth wedding anniversary; seems like only yesterday.  As you might imagine, I was there with my finger on the shutter button of my camera.  I probably annoyed the photographer by snapping my shots as he arranged the bridal party in their various poses that would capture the moments to be long remembered, and viewed at least once a week until their 60th anniversary. …ha!

It was not until I got home and uploaded the digital pictures to my computer that I realized that many, if not most, of my shots looked like I had taken them from the back of a moving truck.  There they were, the objects of my love and admiration, but blurry and out of focus.

  As I clicked through the pictures of the wedding, I was reminded that I, who call myself a Christian, and sincerely love the Lord Jesus, had not consistently kept Him in focus in my own mind and heart.  Too often I had allowed other things to blur the image of Christ for me.  He had become a mere backdrop for the celebration of life that He has so freely given me.  I knew that Jesus, who died for my sins, was buried and rose from the dead for my justification, certainly deserved my first allegiance, but I was so distracted, so busy, so tired, so…    Alright then, no excuses!

Resolved:  Going forward, Christ will be my focus!  I will continually offer Him my thanksgiving! (1 Thessalonians 5:17)  I will give Him the fruit of my lips in praise! (Hebrews 13:15)  I will give Him my body as a living sacrifice for His service! (Romans 12:1)  …my time, my talent, my tithe.  I am determined that He will be in focus, that He will have preeminence in my thoughts and ambitions.  “And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence. (Colossians 1:18)”

  As for the wedding pictures, I had to buy them from the real photographer.  He did a great job; everything was in perfect focus, as it ought to be.

In God’s Hands

  In my late teen years, my friend and I decided to take our smaller siblings and a neighbor boy to the County Fair to see some of the local competition, livestock, etc.  As I remember, it was an enjoyable afternoon—that is, until we started home.  We were riding in my friend’s old Nova II; he was driving.  The conversation was light and happy, and the kids were having a blast.

  I turned around to acknowledge what someone in the back seat had said, and in the distance I saw a car gaining on us at what seemed like double our own speed.  I had time to mention it to my friend who was driving and he immediately spotted the car in his rear view mirror.  We both became alarmed almost instantly as the car was on a collision course, and already too close to safely change lanes.

  At the last fraction of a second the driver of the speeding car jerked the wheel to the left, crossed the left lane, and hit the guardrail on the other side.  His car veered off of the rail and headed toward us again.  The speeding car hit us about the middle of the driver’s side and all four tires lost traction so that we hit the curbing on the right side of the highway and started to roll over.  As the car was almost vertical on two wheels, it seemed to be mysteriously held in that position as it slid down an embankment and hit a chainlink fence before falling back on all four wheels.

  The driver of the other car had been drinking and tried to get away but was unable because of damage done to his car when he bounced off of the guardrail.  The neighbor boy who was with us received a broken arm, but everyone else in the car was without a scratch.

  Some would say we were lucky, be we all agreed that we were blessed.   You see, we believed, “… all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. (Roman 8:28)”  “What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? (Romans 8:31)  “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. (Psalm 46:1)”  I still believe!

Apostasy

  Our word church is from the Greek ekklesia and means a gathering or assembly of people.  Typically it refers to an assembly of individuals who wish to fellowship with God and His people.  The church was founded on the teachings of Jesus.  He referred to it as, “the pillar and ground of the truth.”  

  The teachings of Jesus cover the whole spectrum of truth, which include the laws of spirituality and morality. They are summed up in the Ten Commandments, delivered by the Lord to His people in Exodus 20: Thou shalt have no other gods before me.  Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image.  Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain.    Remember the sabbath day to keep it holy.  Honor thy father and thy mother.  Thou shalt not kill.  Thou shalt not commit adultery.  Thou shalt not steal.  Thou shalt not bear false witness.  Thou shalt not covet.  God has promised to bless the people and nations who recognize the value of these principles.

  Those who take the time to read and understand the Bible will discover that it is eternal truth.  God’s Word provides instruction for every issue of life—the solution to all of its problems.  “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works (2Timothy 3:16–17).”  “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart (Hebrews 4:12).”

  Our word apostasy comes from the Greek word apostasia, and is translated in the Bible with the words, a falling away. (2Thessalonians 2:3).  It means simply to forsake, or depart from.  God predicts that, as the end of this age approaches, there will be “a falling away” from the principles that He has established and promised to bless.  Those who ignore or disdain the principles of God, whether it be a nation, a family, a church or an individual, will forfeit the blessing of God and, in time, incite His wrath.

Progress?

  The word progress is always relative to the ism being discussed, and the perspective one takes in that discussion.  e.g. If the debate is about communism, what one calls “progress” or “a move in the right direction,” the other might label as “decline” or “deterioration of a nation.”  In this debate, and all others pertaining to isms, one’s philosophies and goals provide the substance of his definitions for both good and evil.

  There are those who would define progress as: abortion, homosexuality, transgenderism, cohabitation of the unmarried, alcohol, legalized drugs, antisemitism, unbridled lawlessness under the flag of peaceful demonstration, governmental control of the conscience and the kids, and global alliance in these matters. Others believe that these things are the epitome of evil and human degradation.  As a wise man once said, “It takes all kinds…,” but perhaps we should ask those who redefine as good, that which was once called evil by everyone,  How’s that working for you?  Are you really better off?

  Isn’t it obvious yet, that when everyone defines good and evil using his own philosophical yardstick and moral compass, that life on earth takes on characteristics that can only be described as mayhem, anarchy, confusion, and unrest?  Are we gluttons for punishment?  Are we not man and woman enough to admit that our ways, ambitions and motives are flawed, …that we are not as capable to order our own lives as we had imagined, …that we need help from something—or SomeOne—more powerful, more knowing, more constant than ourselves?

  The words of Moses, spoken to Israel of old, seem fitting, “And it shall come to pass, if thou shalt hearken diligently unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to observe and to do all his commandments which I command thee this day, that the LORD thy God will set thee on high above all nations of the earth:  And all these blessings shall come on thee, and overtake thee, if thou shalt hearken unto the voice of the LORD thy God. (Deuteronomy 28:1-2)”