Friday, January 30, 2015


Well, today and yesterday (2 Jan) we disassembled the Christmas decorations.  This is typically a little sad, as it marks the end of one my favorite seasons.  The tree is down and back in the attic.  The outside lights and deer are not yet put away- too wet- but the lights are off the eves and the wiring is stored.

Taking down is not nearly as hard as putting them up, but not nearly the fun.  As many things, the anticipation is a large part of the fun.

What am I anticipating now?  I find myself asking that question.  I have a trip to Dallas that should be fun and rewarding.  I have another trip in April to College Station, TX, and then to Rome and London in May.  Of course there's also Spring Break, and a professional meeting in Jacksonville.  Then too, there is a new group of students to be met and taught, new papers to write, and new dissertations to assist.

But in a few months more, these will too be disassembled.  What after that?  Well Summer Break, and trips to the beach, and the UA swimming pool...

But these cycles are continuous and only temporarily satisfying.  Nothing we anticipate will bring us ultimate fulfillment.

But we have one BIG anticipation that we don't think about very often.  Think of what it will be like to be in heaven. Those streets of gold, those terrifically interesting Christians who proceeded us.

All holidays and celebrations come to an end... but eternity... well the name says enough.

Ahhh, sweet anticipation.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

An Unusual Quote

Most who know me realize that I love a well-turned phrase, so I collect quotes.  Most also know I use a day-planner, but most don't know that it has a quote at the top of each page.  Todays quote:

"Just as your car runs move smoothly and requires less energy to go faster and farther when the wheels are in perfect alignment, you perform better when your thoughts, feelings, emotions, goals, and values are in balance."  Brian Tracy

Read carefully and you will note an oddity- it is a small mixed metaphor.  Mr Tracy is the author of a book, "The self-made millionaire, and I checked, and the quotes appears to be correctly quoted.

The quote could be repaired by either changing the first wheel reference to "perfectly balanced" or change the last part to "values in alignment", but as is, it is a bit mixed.

The quote makes the most sense with the "alignment" metaphor maintained.  If a person's "thoughts, feelings, emotions, goals, and values" are out of alignment, then the car does not go as well as it could.

As someone attempting to PRACTICE Christianity as the aligner for my life, I find his recommendation challenging.  My"thoughts, feelings, emotions, goals, and values" seem to wander in different directions at times.  As Christians, if we look to Scripture, we have at least a MEANS to align ourselves, but as I said, I find it challenging.  My thoughts go one way, my feelings another, the small emotions I have seem to have a mind of their own, and let's forget my goals, and values, they ought to go where I wish them to, but those crafty values wander at will it seems.

BUT, we do have a craftsman at work.   The Holy Spirit would like to align us, would align us with the will of the G^d, but the Holy Spirit is a gentleman, who only works as we permit.  Odd that the MOST POWERFUL force in the Universe, the Holy Spirit, restrains itself.

I cry out, and perhaps you will join me, "Come Holy Spirit!  Confrom me to YOUR WILL.  Align my thoughts, feelings, emotions, goals, and values!  I want to do your will.  In the same way we received salvatioin, we trust in Your work in us.


Monday, January 26, 2015

Tearing Down Altars, but Where are They?

Today, our pastor, Fred Schuckert, preached about Gideon in Judges 6-8.  Right after G^d calls Gideon to defend Israel, He calls on Gideon to tear down the altars to Baal, belonging to his father, Joash.

IN case you missed it:
  • Joash is Gideon's father, a Jew.
  • Gideon is therefore tearing down pagan altars built my G^d's own people.
  • If you read carefully , it took Gideon, ten men and two bulls, to do the destruction.  These must have been some major altars.

As Fred noted, this happens even today. We, we Christians, build pagan altars.  G^d clearly prohibits this, but we conveniently ignore His commands because... we lapse back into sin.

I do this, and perhaps so do you.

I can gin-up a pretty substantial altar to things like:
Materialism- stuff

Like Gideon's Israel- to be victorious, we must FIRST tear down these altars.   Like Gideon, these may be substantial and we may need help tearing them down.  Just another reason we are called together in the CHURCH.

Happy Destroying!

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Busy Holidays?

I know everyone has a lot going during the Christmas- New Year's celebratory season, but consider this schedule:
  • Dec 10 Chruch Christmas banquet.
  • Dec 13- UA graduation and pick up Andrew at BHM airport.
  • Go deer hunting, plan out everything.
  • Pick up David, Rie and Nene at BHM.
  • Celebrate Issac's b'day.
  • Christmas Eve church and meal.
  • Christmas day present opening and meal.
  • Celebrate Jem's b'day.
  • 28 Dec. Daniel Arrives from MD and enjoy Christmas (huge) dinner.  Open more presents. (14 people in our home).
  • Lots of food, a game of Risk and lots of games of chicken-foot.
  • 31 Dec. David's family back to BHM at 4 AM and travel to DeSoto Falls.
  • 1 Jan return home to Northport.

Whew!  That is/was tiring.  But it was a great, great holiday celebration.  To get this many people together and have everything go smoothly is a Gift from G^d!

I hope your holiday was terrific, and I hope we all realize how much G^d has blessed us all in so many ways.

Happy New Year to all.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

What Deer Hunting Teaches Us About Christian Living

'Us" you say, "Not me!"

Yes, I know that you are likely NOT a deer hunter.  There are only about 13 million of us in the whole of the USA.

And yes, you don't have to do something to learn something from it.  There are plenty of examples.

Here's some things that even non-hunters can learn, if you are willing to take my word for it (and I know for some that is a stretch):

  • Most of hunting, like most of life, involves waiting.  - "...those who wait on the L^rd will renew their strength..."
  • A lot of deer hunting is simply being in the deer stand when the right deer comes by.  A lot of life is tuning into what G^d has in mind, and being obedient enough to be in the position to be used of Him.
  • There are things you can do to be more effective in hunting.  There are things you can do to be more effective in life.  We study deer, and Scripture.  We do hunting and life in community. We pray.
  • It is easy to become discouraged in deer hunting.  I don't even need to explain this one.
  • You have to get up early, so you need to go to bed early.  Ain't much good happens after 11 PM.
  • Most hunts end without a deer.  Most days end without a visible success.
  • The joy has to be in the hunt as well as in the harvest.  The joy has to be in obedience, and as we wait for the harvest.

And there is one more thing.

Deer hunting has brief, relatively meaningless rewards.  Here the analogy with the Christian life breaks down.

Monday, January 19, 2015

The "Old" Testament?

As I mentioned once before in this blog, the term, "The Old Testament", strikes me as a bit odd.  Sure it's old, but so is the "New" testament.  Even more than the name, it strikes me odd that Christians draw such an artificial distinction between the teachings of the two testaments.

I am studying Acts now, and just finished with 1 and 2 Peter. Peter clearly lays out the Gospel in his letters as well as in Acts.  Keep in mind that the "New" Testament had NOT yet been recorded and collected.  Recall too, that the last chapter (24) of Luke records that conversation on the Road to Emmaus, wherein Jesus says, "27 Then beginning with Moses and with all the prophets, He explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures."

Note too, that verses like Eccl 7:20 (“There is not a just man on earth who does good and does not sin.”) says the same as Rom 3:23 does.  Despite that The Acts of the Apostles, or maybe better, The Acts of the Holy Spirit, records the beginnings of the Christian church, everyone who is saved, is saved because of the shed Blood of Jesus the Christ.  "Old" Testament saints are saved by the atoning work of the Christ.  Many of those old timers seemed to have a better grasp of this than some, maybe most, modern Christians.

New Testament critics also seem to miss this point.  Guys like Bart Ehrman forget that the Christ is clearly described in the "Old' Testament.  All those prophecies were fulfilled, but more importantly, the gospel message is also clearly laid out.

I take great comfort in the gospel of the "Old" Testament.

There is "Nothing new under the Sun" we are told in Eccl 1:9.  Notice that is an ancient Scripture.

Ancient indeed.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

How Oxygen Explains Money

One of my long-time friends used to say, "Money is like oxygen, you need at least a little to stay alive."

My friend was correct, but I don't think he realized how correct he was.

I speculate this because few people realize that too much oxygen, like too much money, is poisonous. If you have ever hung around hospitals for any reason you may have noticed that they don't want people to be on 100% oxygen too long. This is because 100% oxygen causes oxygen toxicity, which particularly damages the central nervous system, the eyes and the lungs. So a little exposure to 100% O2 saves your life, but too much oxygen can be deadly.

We don't all recognize the dangers of oxygen or money in high concentrations.  But both are very dangerous.  We must have a little, as my friend said, but if we have too much we are in danger.

I struggle with greed.  It is getting better, but I have to be on guard.  I make a very good salary, and our expenses are much lower than they have been since we started having children.  My mind still jumps to ways to make more money, but too much money, I know, is dangerous.

The good news is that I am remembering this more and more often.  As Martin Luther says, "You can’t stop birds from flying over your head, but you can keep them from making a nest in your hair.”

We cannot stop the birds from flying overhead.  I cannot stop the impulse, but I can keep it from taking charge of my life.  In 2 Peter it says, "By what a man is overcome, by that he is enslaved."  We know too that "the love of money is the root of all sorts of evil things." (I Tim 6:10).

Greed is a terrible thing.  But we serve an Awesome G^d who can, by the Holy Spirit indwelling us, give us victory in the Christ, by His power.

"I believe, L^rd help my unbelief".

Monday, January 12, 2015

The Acts

Our Sunday School class this term is about the Acts of the Apostles, which also could be called, Acts of the Holy Spirit.  Talk about an exciting, action-packed book, this is it.

Here's a few highlights (!!! marks withheld):

  • Two separate folks, separately lie to the Church and the Holy Spirit and are struck dead
  • A guy falls 3 stories after falling asleep- and has his life restored
  • Prison doors miraculously swing open
  • A dead girl has her life restored.
  • Holy Spirit like a wind and flames of fire appear
  • People speak in tongues
  • 3000 souls saved 
  • A lame man is healed
  • Ethnic tensions erupt and are handled
  • First Christian martyr  (After Jesus) (Boy that didn't take long!)
  • Philip shares the Christ with the Ethiopian eunuch
  • Saul is CONVERTED- yep now that's a change!
  • PETER heals a man and a woman
  • Peter has a vision welcoming Gentiles into the Christian Church (Cornelius converts)
  • Foreigner Christians send financial support
  • Paul travels all over the known world to mixed receptions (Why would WE expect otherwise ourselves)
  • Council at Jerusalem seals the deal on those crazy Gentile Believers 
  • Paul speaks in Athens (@ Areopagus)
  • Paul gets in trouble w Jewish leadership (again)
  • Paul finagles a FREE Missions trip to Rome 
  • The book abruptly ends- without a conclusion (Hmmm, what might that mean?)

Now here's a book worth reading, and at only 28 chapters, it's a pretty quick read.  Luke's details mean that it could be verified or debunked easily at the time (between about 30 and 62 AD).

Give it a try.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

If a Tree Fell in the Forest...

This morning I am sitting quietly in the woods, thinking about the woods.  A flock of turkeys feeds it way to within about 15 yards.  It is a good sized flock.  I wonder about all those trees, turkeys and deer that inhabit these woods.  Many of these likely have never seen, or been seen, by a human.

There are thousands of these unseen and unappreciated plants and animals in the forests of the world.  Why?

Why did G^d create these beautiful resources.  Whitetail deer live and die without ever being enjoyed by a human.  We're all G^d's creations.  G^d put us in charge in the garden.  We are to steward the earth.  But all these unseen resources, what's up with those?

I am thinking that the world is bigger than just us.  G^d looks down and sees it all at once.  G^d sees the beautiful timber rattler along with the cottontail bunny.  He sees the baby quail and the tiger salamander.

We interpret everything as it everything is about us.  I think we are wrong.  A racoon may exist for the admiration of the opossums.  A beech may exist for the terrapins.

It's not all about us.  We are a big part.  Jesus didn't die for the chipmunks, but the whole world is more than us.

How else do you explain those unseen pileated woodpeckers?

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Another NEW year!

Wow, hard to believe, but 2014 is history.  Time doth flee- tempus fugit.

I spend a lot of time this season in the woods down in Hale County, AL.  I have been hunting here for almost 30 years.  I see large pine thickets, and I recall when they were planted.  This area is clear cut. For 25 years I walked through mature hardwoods in this now barren spot.  Things change, even forests.

In Sunday's sermon, Ben Talmadge told us a company is now making a watch that takes the input of your age plus several health characteristics, then counts down the hours you have until your predicted death.  Hmm, I don't want one, but the idea is macabre.

Time does indeed count down.  Life flows slowly, or quickly, away.

But enough mourning.  Let us rejoice at the new year.  2015!  It's one of those "5" years.  It's the mid-year of the decade.  We have just finished this year off, we  have completed half of the 2010's.  The 20-teens.

What did you do with 2014?  What will you do with 2015?  How will it be spent?  How should it be spent?

How does one spend a year, a decade, a life? Whose life is it anyway?  If it is ours, it is our decision.  If our life has been purchased by another, then that is quite another matter.  Our year, our life is not our own. 

Does that matter? Should it?

I think so.  I am sure of it.